Beauty Q&A: What Are Polygel Nail Extensions?

February 17, 2022
Genesis Rivas
By: Genesis Rivas | by L'Oréal
what are polygel nails?

As someone who is lazy about getting manicures and struggles with biting my nails (nervous tick — don’t judge me!), artificial nail enhancements are game-changing. I can’t count how many times acrylic and gel manicures have kept me from feeling mildly embarrassed whenever I need to shake hands with someone at a formal event. 

Recently, I found out about polygel nails, and as someone who loves nail extensions, I needed to learn more about them. So, I reached out to Gina Alcedo, celebrity manicurist and founder of Nailvana L.A., to get the full scoop on polygel nails.

What Is a Polygel Manicure? 

“Polygel nail extensions are a nail enhancement that is more flexible and lightweight compared to acrylic but is harder than regular gel or Gel-X nails,” says Alcedo. “Polygel nails are great if you want long nails but have trouble growing your natural nails.” 

Is Polygel bad for your nails?

Because Polygel requires a lot of filing of the natural nail, once you remove them, you may experience some damage. However, using a strengthening polish, like the Essie Hard to Resist Nail Strengthener Treatment can help them grow back stronger in just three days. 

How Do You Remove Polygel Nails?

Removal is pretty simple, and according to Alcedo can be done without a visit to the salon. “Cut the extension off and use a file to remove the remainder of the Polygel on your nails,” she says. Otherwise, polygel nails usually last about three weeks before needing some maintenance.

How Polygel Nails Are Applied

After going through the motions of a traditional manicure (pushing back and filing dead skin away from the cuticle) the nail tech will file the nail bed to remove any oils. After the initial prep Alcedo says a nail bed dehydrator will be applied to further remove any moisture or oils before painting on a nail primer and actually applying the polygel. 

Once the prep work is complete, a ball of polygel will be applied in the middle of your nail using a spatula. Then, your technician will begin to work and mold the ball of polygel to give you the shape and length that you desire. 

Alcedo explains that once your hand is done, it will be cured for 60 seconds under a UV light. Then, your technician will file away any rough edges to ensure a soft and smooth finish.

If you want a color, Alcedo says you can choose a gel color of your choice and then they will cure your manicure for another 60 seconds. Finally, a top coat will be applied and cured. 

The process is similar to getting a regular gel manicure, but your nails will look longer than they did when you started. 

Photo: @tainanrodriguess, Design: Juliana Campisi

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