One big difference between Gel-X extensions and other options (like acrylic and dip powder) is that, because of its composition, Gel-X can be soaked off with acetone. Also, Gel-X doesn’t just sit at the tip of the nail, but covers the entire nail bed, reducing pressure on the weakest part of the nail. “I find that gel extensions are way thinner, more natural looking, and more modern than a dip or acrylic,” says Elizabeth Ridley, a nail artist in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. “And the time for application is so much quicker,” she adds.
Aprés was first to the market with the full-coverage, soft-gel extension system. Orly has its own gel extension system, called GelFX, which uses builder gel (a polish that applies like soft gel but dries into hard gel) rather than an already molded gel extension. But Aprés continues to be the most popular option among nail artists in salons and online.
How Much Does Gel-X Cost?
A lot of nail salons — nationally and globally — offer Gel-X services, which are usually specified by the name: Gel-X, or gel extensions. So you probably want to know how much this Gel-X option costs, huh? Based on my experience living in the New York City area, Gel-X manicures cost $100 to $150, depending on length and designs, which can range from simple French tips to elaborate 3D shapes. Unlike press-ons, Gel-X tips don’t come pre-designed; designs are usually painted on after application. “You can expect to pay $85 for the actual set and upwards, with the manicure depending on the complexity,” says New York-based nail artist Ayumu Takasawa. That range seems to be accurate for most states across the country.
How Gel-X Nail Extensions Are Applied
Nail artist and Après research and development manager Eunice Park says that prep includes cutting or filing your natural nails, pushing back the cuticles, and buffing the nail bed — exactly what you’d expect as first steps during a nail appointment. Your nail artist will then select the Gel-X extensions that best fit your nails. Before the extensions are affixed, a pH Bonder (a solution made with isopropyl alcohol) is applied to your own nails to remove any oil or residue that could hinder clean and proper adhesion.
The process of applying Gel-X extensions, minus the nail art, takes about an hour, prep included. If you’re also getting nail art, your appointment could last as long as three hours, depending on the complexity. The process steps are as follows: