How Long Do Polygel Nails Last?

close-up of a manicurist applying a base layer of polygel to natural nails with a metal spatula

How long do Polygel nails last? Polygel nails are strong, flexible, and able to hold their shape under stress. They’re very durable, which makes them ideal for those who work with their hands or have active lifestyles.

In the world of beauty, nails have always been utilized as a way to show off your personality, add a pop of color to your look, or simply as a way to feel more put together. For years, if you stepped into a nail salon you had two options: acrylic, or gel.

The downsides of acrylic nails have come to light in more recent years with emphasis on the harsh chemicals, damage to nail beds, and expensive price tag. Gel polish has also become scrutinized over time for it’s toxic UV light causing a weakening effect—resulting in brittle, peeling natural nails.

So, what’s the solution? This is where Polygel comes in, and let me tell you: they’re here to stay. In a nutshell, Polygel takes the durability of acrylics with the elasticity and shine of gel polish and combines them together to make a much safer, yet still highly effective nail product.

Sold in a tube like toothpaste, Polygel is a mixture of acrylic powder with a clear gel-like substance that together, forms a consistency like putty. Using clear ‘dual forms’ (think: clear false nails) a bead of Polygel is applied to the underside.

Dipping the brush in a solution that repels the gel, the technician is able to mold and form the Polygel to the inside of the dual form. Next, the dual form is applied to the nail and cured under an LED light. Once cured, you’ll be able to remove the dual forms and show off your new Polygel set.

File, add color or glitter and a top coat and they’re done! If Polygel sounds like your style, read on. Here I will answer all of your Polygel questions such as, “how long do Polygel nails last?” so that you can confidently show off your fresh manicure in no time.

How Long Will Polygel Nails Stay On?

As with any nail set, the length of time your manicure will stay on varies by how well you take care of them. However, a typical set of Polygel nails can last up to 4 weeks, with the average lasting about 3 weeks.

Because Polygel is lighter and more flexible than acrylic they are less likely to break or chip. Yet, this all depends on your lifestyle and activities. If you’re involved in a hobby or occupation where you’re constantly using your hands, normal wear and tear is likely.

Does Polygel Last Longer Than Acrylic?

Due to their somewhat similar properties, both Polygel and acrylics don’t need to be removed when getting a fill. Often, unless there is significant damage, both Polygel and acrylics can be buffered down and simply filled in with more product. Polygel doesn’t necessarily last longer than acrylic, however, they do last about the same length of time.

Are Polygel Nails Strong?

One of the biggest benefits of Polygel nails and undoubtedly one of the largest reasons it has exploded in success over recent years, is that Polygel nails are not only strong but flexible as well. You may feel as though those two words together are an oxymoron—they contradict one another.

That is what makes Polygel nails so fascinating. Like gel polish, Polygel nails are cured under a light—making them far more durable than normal nail polish. Due to their consistency and use of a curing light, Polygel nails are considered a strong nail enhancement.

Pro tip: If styling your own nails at home, never apply the Polygel too thick. If applied in thick layers, the LED light isn’t able to penetrate all the way through the middle. This causes the nails to stay soft and thus, cause breakage.

Why Do My Gel Nails Peel Off After One Day?

If you spend all day admiring your freshly coated gel manicure, only to be struck with disappointment the following day as you watch them peel off—you’re not alone. Unfortunately, a common problem found with many types of gel polish is the peeling that can happen—sometimes within 24 hours.

A few reasons for peeling gel nails are:

Use Of Low-Quality Gel

  • Lower quality gels tend to be thicker and hence harder to properly cure.
  • Shrinkage can happen: This is when a lower quality gel polish will physically move position on the nail plate, causing a gap between the polish and the cuticle.

Damage Caused By The Client

  • Picking or pulling at gel nails will cause them to become further damaged.
  • DO NOT file your gel nails afterwards, even if you feel they are too long.
  • This will break the seal on the cap of the nail causing premature peeling.

Improper Preparation Of The Nail Bed Beforehand

Smooth, oily nails will NOT bond to the gel. In order to prevent your manicure from chipping:

  • Ensure your cuticles have been pushed back.
  • You’ve buffed the free edges.
  • Rubbed the nails with isopropyl alcohol cleanser.
  • Brushed on a dehydrating primer to further rid the nail of any oils.

Poor Removal Techniques

  • When removing a gel set, a client must soak their hands in 100% pure acetone to weaken the polish.
  • Allowing the proper amount of time for nails to soak ensures there is no damage done to the natural nail.
  • If this process is rushed, the gel will not come off as it should and it will require extra buffing and filing.
  • This extra manpower weakens the nail bed—next time the client comes in for a full set the nails will be softer and prone to bending and breaking.
  • What also bends and breaks with the nail? The gel.

Why Do My Polygel Nails Keep Breaking?

Polygel is a relatively new nail enhancement so go easy on yourself if you haven’t fully mastered the skill yet. Polygel nails are marketed as a strong, secure option for your nails.

Polygel is not supposed to break or chip within the first few weeks. So, chances are, if your Polygel nails continuously break after application you’re most likely making one of these common mistakes.

Too Much Slip Solution

  • Slip solution is an alcohol-based liquid that keeps the Polygel from sticking to the nail brush as you mold and form your Polygel.
  • When applying this liquid to your Polygel, ensure it has completely dried before curing – even the smallest bit will prevent full adherence.

Your Base Coat Is Too Sticky

  • Before applying Polygel, you must apply a gel base coat. If it is too sticky, the Polygel will have a harder time bonding.

Sidewalls And Cuticles Are Too Thick

  • You may not notice right away, but the areas near the sidewalls and cuticles need to be thinner in order for the Polygel to bond properly.

Product Is Touching The Skin

  • Even the smallest amount of Polygel touching the skin can cause lifting. Ensure this doesn’t happen by taking extra time to examine the cuticles and sidewalls.

Too Thick

  • Colors that are lighter and brighter—such as white—often have too much pigment in them, resulting in easy over-application.
  • When Polygel is over-applied, the LED light cannot penetrate through and often will stay soft in the middle until they break.

Can Polygel Grow Out?

Polygel—given that proper preparation and adhesion has been done, should grow out flawlessly. As I stated before, a huge benefit of using Polygel is that you don’t need to remove the nails once growth begins to appear. Simply apply more product. It’s really that easy!

How Do I Stop My Polygel From Popping Off?

If you’re joining the recent trend of DIY nails at home—make sure you properly nail prep. Simply following protocol when it comes to cleaning and filing your nails beforehand will make a world of a difference in whether or not your nails stay in place.

So, if you want to learn how to stop your Polygel nails from falling off, start with the basics.

  • Wash your hands prior but make sure you dry them beyond your normal routine. By doing so you’re ensuring any water or oil is free from your nail beds before you begin to file.
  • Filing and buffering is a crucial step in ensuring your nails will adhere to your nail bed. By creating a rough surface you’re giving the Polygel something to grab on to.

Smooth nails won’t stick—so make sure there isn’t a single area of the nail bed that isn’t filed down.

  • In addition, choosing a dual form size that is just slightly larger will ensure you don’t miss any areas on your nail bed—thus creating a strong, full bond.

How Do You Make Polygel Last Longer?

One of the most efficient ways to make those shiny, new nails of yours last even longer is by giving the Polygel nail support. When you use dual forms, they only stay on during the application. However, once cured you simply pop them off, leaving the Polygel free standing.

While this does work, if you specifically want to make them last longer, or you have daily activities that require consistent use of your hands, giving them this support takes any extra pressure off that potentially can cause breakage. The easiest way to give your Polygel nails support is by using nail tips.

The preparation and process when using nail tips is quite similar to using dual forms—however, instead of applying Polygel onto the dual forms and THEN pressing it onto your nail bed, apply a bead of Polygel directly onto your natural nail bed/nail tip. The best thing about Polygel is that it doesn’t dry when exposed to air, it only dries when cured under a LED light—so take all the time in the world!

How Do I Maintain My Polygel Nails?

Maintenance of a fresh Polygel nail set is nearly as important as both the preparation and the initial procedure. As with acrylic or gel nails, it all comes down to the way you treat them. Be gentle on them—this means wearing gloves when doing household chores or exposing your hands to any harsh chemicals.

In addition, using cuticle oil can greatly enhance the look and longevity of your full Polygel set. Cuticle oil has many benefits such as removing dead skin, increasing circulation around nail beds, aiding in healthy nail growth, moisturizing and more.

Applying cuticle oil over a fresh new set can help smooth and seal the polish, providing it protection and shine. Cuticle oil can also help give your nails the boost they need to look brand new for far longer.

Final Thoughts: How Long Do Polygel Nails Last?

With a strong emphasis on avoiding harsh, toxic chemicals, society has recently begun looking for healthier alternatives to nearly everything—this includes the beauty industry. With their toxin-free formula and harmless LED light it’s no surprise Polygel nails have taken the glamor world by storm.

Not only are they a much healthier alternative, Polygel nails are thinner, lighter, and more comfortable than acrylic nails. Despite their slight increase in price, Polygel nails are said to be worth every extra penny spent—as long as you are taking proper care and maintenance of them afterwards.

In addition, preparation of your nails is vital—a nail technician will know this, however, don’t be intimidated to jump into the world of “at-home nail care.” Just always remember, don’t ever skip on laying the groundwork, or your nails will suffer for it!

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By Emma Eliason

Emma Eliason is a beauty writer at Kintegra Research. She has a passion for makeup and both skin and haircare. She is also a mom to a little girl whom shares the same love for beauty as Emma does. Emma is regularly trying out new products and always looking for the best!