What Causes Gel Nail Polish to Remain Sticky?

If you’ve ever had this problem with your gel polish, you’re not alone! This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of getting your nails done at the salon, or even when doing it yourself at home if you use gel polish instead of regular nail polish. Sometimes your nails will just never cure and stay sticky, even though you did everything perfectly and followed all the instructions provided by the brand or retailer.

In this article, we will look into why gel nail polish remains sticky as well as how to prevent it in the future. With these tips and tricks, you’ll have no problem with your gel nail polish!

What Causes Gel Nail Polish to Remain Sticky?

The majority of sticky nails are caused by either an improper nail polish, an incorrect curing process, or by an improperly selected nail color. Let’s talk about curing since that can really help you understand why your polish may be sticking.

When you apply gel polish to your nail, you cure it under a UV lamp until it’s dry. The length of time required depends on which brand of gel polish and what kind of light you use. For example, if you use a UV light, most gel nail polishes will take 60 seconds, but with an LED light it can take as little as 30 seconds! Your nail polish brand should give you guidelines on curing times.

Nail polish molecules are very small in size and each one typically takes 10 to 15 minutes to fully cure. It can take up to 3 days for all of these smaller molecules to fully dry out, so if you apply more than one coat right away, there will be too many layers curing at once inside your UV lamp. The older layers will act as a barrier to new layers and prevent them from properly curing.

Another thing to be aware of is that many gel polish brands use different types of dyes and pigments in their colors. These come in varying sizes, so even if you have an extremely dark shade of, say, red polish from one brand, it might cure faster than a lighter shade from another brand.

In addition to dyes and pigments influencing curing time, other additives may also slow down or speed up your nail polish’s ability to dry. As a general rule, trying using 2-3 thinner coats instead of 1-2 thicker coats can also help with longer drying times and better cure rates.

Using a proper curing lamp or you aren’t using one consistently could also be another issue. If you use your UV lamp for extended periods of time and then leave it turned off for a long period of time (more than 2-3 days), you risk damaging your light. The temperature inside your light can change and if it is too cold, it can prevent curing from happening correctly.

How Long Should it Take Gel Polish to Cure on Average?

Gel polish usually takes about three minutes to begin to dry. However, it will continue to cure for about 10 minutes. This means that after three minutes, you should be able to slide a fingernail along the polish and have only slight resistance.

If there is still any obvious stickiness or resistance, you’ll need to wait longer before removing your sticky gel top coat. While most brands recommend up to 15 minutes of curing time, others state that anywhere from two hours to overnight will suffice.

When in doubt, be patient and go a little bit longer than what you normally would for thicker layers. You’ll never want to rush your gel polish – especially since uncured polish can sometimes leave stains behind!

It’s also worth noting that not all gels should be given an eight-minute cure time. Some brands will tell you to give them as little as two minutes or as much as 20 minutes. Always follow your specific brand’s curing instructions, and don’t just go by our suggestions.

Since there can be variations in curing time between brands, it’s recommended to stick with the same brand if you’re doing multiple colors on your nails. This will help them dry and cure more consistantly.

Always follow your specific brand’s guidelines if they differ from our suggestions above!

What Can You do to Fix Them if They Won’t Cure?

UV Lamp

The most likely cause of your gel polish not curing is that your UV lamp was either broken or not turned on. If you see a light and it’s lit, don’t assume it works! Turn it on first, then check that it’s emitting an adequate amount of light by placing your hand under it. Most nail lamps should feel warm—not hot—when they’re at full power.

If you don’t have access to a UV lamp and need your nails curing ASAP, try dabbing on some nail polish remover. It may not be ideal, but it should remove enough of your polish to allow them to set properly. Otherwise, you can always go back over them later with a fresh coat once they’re cured!

Don’t leave your UV lamp on while it’s not in use! The bulb can become weaker if it is left on too long causing it not to work as efficiently.

Nail Health

Making sure your nails are in top condition before you apply the gel nail polish is another way to help prevent sticky nails. Healthy nails means no ridges, bumps, or fungal growth. It’s also a good idea to use a primer before applying two coats of gel polish.

By keeping an eye on your nails, you’ll be able to spot potential issues and stop them at an early stage. When all else fails and your polish doesn’t cure properly, try using a double-sided nail buffer. Buffers work by roughening up the surface of your natural nail so that it matches more closely with its synthetic counterpart; if there isn’t much difference between them, then heat will easily transfer from one to another.

Take a Break Between Coats

Giving your nails a break between coats can also help. Every couple of weeks, your natural nails should push out older layers and reveal newer ones. Applying more gel polish before they’ve had a chance to do so will trap them in place, preventing them from curing properly.

Properly Removing Old Polish

Make sure you remove all of the old polish before applying your first fresh layer (if you’re not doing a layered design). To do so, soak a cotton pad in nail polish remover and place it on your fingertip for ten seconds. Let it sit until all of your lacquer has transferred onto the pad and peel it off.

Finish by scrubbing your nails with an emery board to ensure that all of your artificial coatings have been removed from them. It’s important to remove all traces of polish because gel often traps remnants of any previous layer inside its sticky matrix, making them more difficult to deal with down the line.

Using Finishing Wipes for Gel Nail Polish

Finishing wipes are essential to creating long-lasting gel nails. These wipes ensure that you don’t infect your hands or cuticles with bacteria that can cause your nails to yellow. You can also use finishing wipes to remove any oils left on your hands from washing them so that they don’t interfere with curing. These wipes will also work as a primer for your manicure, ensuring that your new nail color stays put and lasts as long as possible.

Apply Light Layers

Whether you’re applying one-coat or two-coat gel nails, try to apply a thin layer of gel polish. The thicker your layers are, the longer it will take for your nails to cure. If you find that your polish isn’t curing properly, remember that every brand of gel nail polish has its own specifications for curing time. If you aren’t using high-quality brushes and equipment and you aren’t following proper application techniques, chances are good that your nail color won’t cure as quickly as it should.

Make sure that your nails are clean an healthy (finishing wipes can help with this), your brushes, UV light, and polish are high quality, and you take your time by applying light, thin layers and giving your nails a break every now and then. Following these tips should help you prevent sticky gel nail polish in the future.

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