Are you wondering why is my gel polish not curing, and you’ve ended up with a smudged, uneven finish?
It can be frustrating when the result isn’t what you expect. In this blog post, we will explore common causes of why your gel nail polish may not be curing properly and help you figure out the steps to take to get a flawless manicure.
Why Does Gel Nail Polish Need To Be Cured?
When it comes to creating the perfect manicure, there are few products more effective for long-lasting color, than gel nail polish.
Gel nail polish is versatile, long-lasting, and requires minimal upkeep compared to traditional regular nail polish.
However, one of the most important steps when using gel nail polish is curing the nails to ensure the polish sets properly and doesn’t chip or peel.
Curing the nails doesn’t take a lot of time, and it is essential for ensuring the perfect manicure.
The curing process is done by exposing the nails to UV or LED light. The light helps to bond the layers of gel together, ensuring a smooth and even finish.
Without proper curing, the gel polish won’t be able to bond properly and will not last as long, with early chipping or lifting.
Curing the nails also helps protect the nail underneath. Without the curing process, the polish can damage the nail and possibly cause yellowing or discoloration over time.
With proper curing, the gel can protect the nail while still providing a beautiful look that will last for weeks.
How To Cure Gel Polish?
To cure gel polish, you need to prep the nails with a quality cuticle oil and file them into the desired shape.
Using a lint-free wipe saturated with an alcohol-based cleanser or isopropyl alcohol, gently cleanse each nail and dry with a clean towel.
Once the nails are cleaned and dried, you’ll need to apply a base coat of gel polish onto the nails. Make sure to carefully follow ths instructions for application.
Before curing, use a soft brush to remove any excess product from around your skin and finger/toe crevices.
When you’re ready to cure the gel polish, use either an LED light or UV light source, depending on your preference and specific brand of polish.
Refer to instructions from your chosen brand for time requirements in order for proper curing.
When complete, make sure to check for any tackiness or smudges on each nail before applying your top coat.
After you’ve applied top coat and cured once more, finish off with some cuticle oil on each nail bed in order to prevent dryness or cracking.
You can have hard gel polish applied in a nail salon by nail techs, or you can do DIY gel manicures for personal use.
Why Is My Gel Polish Not Curing?
It’s a nail tech’s worst nightmare: You’re done applying the perfect coat of gel polish to your client’s nails and move to the curing station, only to find that the gel isn’t curing properly.
But panic not – there are a few reasons this could be happening and a few easy steps that you can take to make sure your polish is cured properly.
The first thing to check is the curing light itself. Make sure the light is clean, and the UV bulbs are in good working order.
If the bulbs have seen better days, consider upgrading to a new curing light that uses LED bulbs for fast and reliable curing.
If the light appears to be working properly, make sure that you’re using a gel polish that is compatible with your curing light.
Not all gel polishes work with all curing lights, so double check to make sure yours is compatible.
Double check that you are curing your polish for the correct amount of time. Most gels require between 30–60 seconds of curing time, but this number may vary depending on your type of curing light.
It might help to set a timer when you start to ensure that you don’t leave the polish in the light too long or not long enough.
Let’s look at some more possible reasons, and the most common reason for your gel polish manicures not curing correctly, and the solutions to resolve the issues:
Using An Expired Gel Nail Polish
Using an expired gel nail polish means that the gel polish will not cure properly. This is because the chemicals in the polish are no longer active and do not react with the curing light.
The result is a soft, tacky finish that will likely chip off after just a few days. So, you need to ensure your gel polishes are kept in the optimum condition, stored away from light and extreme temperatures, and used before their expiry date.
You Didn’t Use The Right Base Coat
Using the wrong base coat with a gel polish can affect how it cures, resulting in an ineffective finish.
If you’re using a standard base coat rather than one specifically designed for use with gel polishes, it won’t provide the same level of adhesion and may cause your manicure to lift or peel off prematurely.
If the base coat isn’t activating with the gel polish correctly, that means it won’t properly cure and form a hard, durable finish.
Without that protective layer of cured gel polish, your manicure won’t have the longevity or shine you’re looking for.
To ensure optimal results, always use a base coat specifically designed for use with gel polishes and make sure to apply the right amount, as too much base coat will cause even more issues.
You Didn’t Use The Right Topcoat
When gel polish is applied, you need to not only use the right basecoat and color coat, but also the right topcoat. The topcoat seals in your color, cures it properly and gives it a smooth finish.
Not using the correct topcoat can mean that your gel polish won’t cure correctly – leading to smudging, unevenness or a lack of shine.
If you use too much topcoat and don’t allow it to dry properly before curing (also known as over-capping).
Your gel polish won’t last as long and will be more prone to chipping. Therefore, make sure you always use the right topcoat to ensure your gel polish cures and lasts.
You Applied Too Thick A Layer Of Gel Polish
If you applied too thick of a layer of gel polish, it will cause your nail polish to not cure properly.
This can be an issue because the gel won’t harden, and your manicure may come undone much sooner than expected.
To prevent this, make sure that each layer of gel polish is thin and evenly distributed on the nail.
If you do apply a thicker layer, use the UV/LED light for an extra 30 seconds to ensure that all areas are properly cured.
If your gel polish still isn’t curing after proper gel application and extended exposure to the light, then it may be time to switch brands or adjust the wattage of your light.
Uncured gel polish won’t set unless it’s been cured under a light source like a LED nail lamp.
You Didn’t Cap The Free Edge
If the free edge of your gel polish isn’t capped, it will not cure properly. This means that the top layer of your nail polish won’t fully adhere to the nail plate and thus won’t be completely cured.
Without a proper seal and full curing, your gel polish could start to chip or peel prematurely. If the top layer isn’t fully cured, your nail polish won’t last as long as it should.
To ensure a proper seal and full curing process, always cap the free edge of your gel polish.
This means that you need to apply a thin coat of polish along the entire length of the nail and around the edges, making sure to press it into the sides. Doing this will ensure that your gel polish cures completely and lasts longer.
You Didn’t Remove The Sticky Layer
If your gel polish hasn’t been curing properly, it could mean that the sticky layer wasn’t completely removed.
This tacky layer of sticky residue needs to be buffed off before curing in order for the polish to adhere correctly to your acrylic nails / gel nails and natural nails.
If this layer is not removed, the polish will not cure correctly and can cause issues such as uneven color or premature chipping. It may also increase the risk of lifting and bubbling.
To avoid these problems, make sure to remove any sticky layer before you cure your gel polish with the UV light.
This can be done by buffing with a nail file, using rubbing alcohol or acetone-free remover, or wiping with a lint-free cloth dampened in isopropyl alcohol.
If you are still having issues with curing, then it may be necessary to try a different type of gel polish or lamp.
Also, make sure that your nails are properly prepped and dust/debris has been removed prior to applying the gel polish.
You also need to ensure the entire nail surface is clean – free from any oils – before applying the gel polish in order for it to properly adhere.
Too Much Oil On The Nail Bed
When too much oil is applied to the nail beds, it can prevent the gel manicure from properly adhering to the nails.
This can lead to a weakened bond between the nails and the gel polish, which may cause chips and cracks in the finish.
An insufficient amount of cure time with your LED lamp may also contribute to this problem because if not enough time is given for the gel to properly cure, then the bond will be weakened and prone to damage.
Therefore, when applying gel nail polish, ensure that all oils or creams have been removed from the nails beforehand and that an adequate amount of time is given for curing.
Your UV Lamp Isn’t Strong Enough
Your UV lamp isn’t strong enough to properly cure gel nail polish if it has a low wattage. Most lamps require at least four watts of power to accurately cure the gel polish.
If your lamp is lower than this, it won’t be able to provide adequate heat and light energy needed for curing, which can cause the polish not to harden or cure properly.
This can result in a weak, soft finish that doesn’t last as long as it should and is more prone to chipping and peeling. It can also cause the polish to discolor over time due to the lack of curing.
To ensure your gel manicure turns out perfectly, always use a lamp with enough wattage for the job.
You may also need to use a primer or gel base coat with your gel polish, as this can help it adhere better and cure more effectively, for best results.
You Didn’t Cure Each Layer Of Gel Polish
When it comes to curing gel nail polish, one of the most common mistakes is not applying enough layers of gel polish.
You need to apply thin, even layers of gel polish when doing a manicure with gel nails.
This will ensure that each layer cures properly and completely before you move on to the next layer.
When too few layers are applied, the gel polish won’t harden completely and will remain soft, making it more likely to chip, peel or wrinkle.
Applying too many layers of gel nail polishes can also cause problems, as the finish might become uneven and ridges could appear between each layer.
To ensure that your manicure looks perfect, make sure you always apply the correct amount of gel polish layers, allowing each layer to fully cure in-between.
What Factors Can Affect The Gel Polish Curing Process?
When it comes to curing gel polish, there are many factors that can have an effect. These range from the type of light used for curing to the technique used for good application.
First, the type of light used for curing plays a critical role. UV lights penetrate the layers of the gel polish and allow the formula to harden and set properly.
LED lights are highly recommended, as they work quickly and efficiently without generating too much heat. The wattage of the light should be sufficient enough to cure the gel polish.
Next, the technique used for polish application also impacts proper curing of the gel polish.
When applying the gel polish, it should be spread over the nail in an even layer, avoiding any gaps or bubbles.
This ensures that the light is able to penetrate all of the layers, helping to prevent chipping and lifting after curing.
If one layer of the gel polish isn’t completely cured, applying extra coats can be a challenge.
This is because the layers will be too much of a thick coat on your fingers, and won’t allow sufficient light penetration when it comes time to cure.
To prevent this, all layers should be cured completely before adding any more polish.
How To Know If Your Gel Polish Is Fully Cured?
When applying gel polish, make sure it’s fully cured. This ensures the polish will last and stay chip-free for the maximum amount of time. Here are a few tips to help you tell if your gel polish is cured and ready for use.
Firstly, it’s always recommended to wait the full curing time recommended by the manufacturer.
Depending on the type of gel polish you use, that can range from 30 seconds to two minutes in an LED lamp or five minutes to an hour in a UV lamp.
Other than that, you’ll want to inspect the surface of your nails for any shiny spots or textures.
If any of these occur, it’s likely that your nails haven’t been exposed to enough light and need more curing time.
Another great test is the “bounce” test. Take the tip of your finger and lightly bounce it against your nail surface.
If you hear a clicking sound, then your gel polish isn’t fully cured. Wait a few more minutes and repeat the test until you hear a solid thumping sound.
When you’re done curing your nails, take some rubbing alcohol and gently wipe off any residue on the surface.
This should help give you a better indication of whether or not your polish is fully cured. If there’s still residue left behind, then that means your polish wasn’t fully cured yet and needs more time.
Curing your gel polish correctly is a vital step in achieving professional quality manicures.
Knowing why your gel polish isn’t curing can help you troubleshoot the issue and get back to creating beautiful nail art.
To ensure that your nails cure properly, make sure to apply thin layers of product and don’t overload the brush.
Curing your nails under a UV or LED lamp according to manufacturer’s instructions will set the gel polish into place.
Storing your gel polish in a cool, dry place can help it last longer and prevent spoilage. Lastly, make sure to remove any excess product from the skin before curing for best results.
Hi, my name is Gemma, and I’m the owner of MakeupMuddle.com. I’m a true beauty obsessive, and love writing about anything to do with beauty – I have been a beauty writer since 2012.