A gel manicure is a service that uses a gel-based polish and requires a UV or LED light to cure the polish and lock it onto your nails. Gel polish is more durable than regular polish.
Gel polish is a long-lasting variety of nail polish made up of a type of methacrylate polymer. It is painted on the nail similar to traditional nail polish, but does not dry. Instead it is cured under an ultraviolet lamp or ultraviolet LED. While regular nail polish formulas typically last two to seven days without chipping, gel polish can last as long as two weeks with proper application and home care. Gel polish can be more difficult to remove than regular nail polish. It is usually removed by soaking the nails in pure acetone (the solvent used in most nail polish removers) for five to fifteen minutes, depending on the formula.
The good news is that gel nail polish itself will not hurt your nails. Picking at gel polish, however, can harm your nails. If you pick at the polish and peel it up, you will inevitably peel away part of your natural nail, leaving it thinner and weaker.
UV or LED lamps cure the polish rather than dry gel nail polish. While you will be able to apply gel nail polish without a UV light, the other "processes" of drying are long and will not give the quality results you expect. A UV light is what dries the gel quickly and without fail.
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