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24 Mar 2023

Structured Gel Manicure


A structured gel manicure is a gel nail application thicker than just brushing on your gel product, as is the case when you do a Shellac or Gelish-type manicure.

Today we’ll discuss three defining characteristics of a structured gel nail application. A structured gel manicure can also be called a structured gel overlay because, in any case, you are manicuring the hands and overlaying them with a nail product.

For booking and pricing in the salon, I used both terms, gel manicure and gel overlay, but I could have quickly just said one or the other.

For example, I called a “Gel Manicure”, my procedure of applying a structured gel base and then the colour, no builder gel at all.

Here are the Three Defining Characteristics Of A Structured Gel Manicure Application

Structured Gel Manicure Defining Characteristic #1 To achieve a structured gel nail application (remember A.K.A. gel manicure or gel overlay), you must use a thicker viscosity gel. Usually, this is what your options look like:

You often see on Instagram nail techs using a tinted builder in a bottle product to create their structured overlays. This viscosity is typically thick, and they have a semi-hard texture that makes them quite durable. They also tend to self-level like a dream.

#1 A few of them require bonders and primers for extended wear. These two adhesion-improving agents can, over time take their toll on the natural nails, making them yellow, dehydrated or brittle, or a combination of all of these.

#2 most of them offer a variety of foundation shades. Still, when it comes to re-balancing, you will have to remove just about the entire old gel product to work with the natural hue of the nail again or not mind the different shade of gel if you will be re-applying the product but in a different shade.
However, at that time, I found Japanese Soft Builder Gel to be more potent, and my clients wanted to go longer with their natural nail overlays, so that is why I made the shift.

So To Recap Defining Characteristic of Structured Gel Manicure

To achieve a beautifully structured gel nail application, you need a thicker viscosity gel. When using the premium soft potted gel as I do. Bio-Base Gel is excellent for short to medium-length nails. For longer natural nails, add a soft builder gel.

But hold up… thicker does not mean ugly and bulky. Your structured gel nails will be thick in all the right places. And again, when I say wide… I am not saying load up your brush with as much gel as possible and plop it on the nail. There is some technique to this to allow for beautiful self-levelling.

We’ll Get To This In More Detail In Our Following Characteristics

Now I can tell you this for sure… by making your gel nail application thicker. You’ve already increased your gel nail wearability by like A-LOT! Now, if you can give it the perfect definition, AKA structure, by your self-levelling technique you are golden!

Now I’ve got to be honest here, out of your whole roster of clientele, there may be one or maybe two clients that will not like a thicker gel nail application, no matter how beautiful your structured gel nail application is. They want that flat polish look which is pretty, but there are a couple of things they should consider if they opt out of your structured gel nail application, and no… this does not mean you have to discount their service either.

So… What Do You Do?

Well, #1. I would strongly encourage you to explain to your client why you are opt-in for more voluminous applications.

Tell her that this application method provides for the most extended wear of her gel nails. Let her know that you trust this method of application and it is the one that makes you insure your work.

Allow her to opt out and into a thinner gel base application (so you’ll use the same gels, you would not structure them) but not without letting her know that her gel nails may wear a little less. Let’s try it!

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