Hard Gel vs. Soak-off Gel, which one to choose for each client?

There are so many products out there with different formulations that gave people so many options to the point that you can get overwhelming and wondering “What do I use, how and when do i use it? etc.”

I would love to go over some fundamental information that really helps you to understand the concept of the difference between soak-off gel vs. hard gel.

  1. Hard gels characteristics:

Minimum wear down or change shape
The most durable gels
Can not be soak off with acetone or other solvents
The bonds in the hard gels are much tighter than soak off gel because when hard gels are being cured under LED/UV lamp created these tiny and tight netting structure with no space in between so nothing can get in between and broke the bonds within the product apart.

  1. Soak off gels

Can be removed by either filing off as hard gels or through soaking with acetone or other solvents.
Tend to be more flexible but not necessarily weak (depending on the formula of the product)


What is the advantage or which one is better for your nails between hard and soak-off gel?

It depends on personal reference, your lifestyle, desired nail shapes, or the nature of natural nails, etc. but one thing you need to consider which product to go on yours and your current client’s nails: is the gel Flexible or Rigid?

Example of a natural nail surface/plate: A sponge - just like your natural nails plate, it can be soft when soaking with water or dry out after the water evaporated.

Example of flexible gel: use a piece of plastic like a thick and flexible plastic cutting board, it definitely represents flexible gels but it’s not necessary weak and easy to break.

Example of rigid gel: acrylic cutting board is so hard and don’t bend as much that but if you use more force it can break in half

Example of when choosing the right product for your client: one of your client’s nails are so thin and flimsy. The natural way it grew shows that it has been damaged from the previous services. In this case, you can't use rigid gel on top of that client’s nails because the nail enhancement can be cracked and broke off. To build a strong foundation for this client's nails either to provide an overlay service to enhance the natural nails or to extend the nails longer, the trick is to build a firm foundation’s structure first with a more flexible product before applying any other rigid products on top, don’t go other way around. At the end of the day, you gotta really think what type of nails client has and look at which product can go over it, so you can decide which product can be used over that client’s nails.

Same for top coats: some top coats are rigid some are flexible. YOU should use the flexible one on natural nails services and rigid one on extensions.

I hope these information will help you gain some confidence on how to choose the right products for your clients.

Good luck!

Jade Tang

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