How to Apply Hard Gel on Natural Nails

How to Apply Hard Gel on Natural Nails?

Would you like to know how to apply hard gel on natural nails? Then you’re in the right place. We’ll cover the items you need and the steps to take to do hard gel overlays and extensions.

Items Needed to Apply Hard Gel on Natural Nails

Besides hard gel, you’ll need a few other things to do the nail enhancement. Here’s the list followed by a more detailed explanation:

Those are the basic tools you need to apply hard gel on natural nails. We have a few suggestions for products that will get the job done right:

Lavis Protein Bond & Primer

How to Apply Hard Gel on Natural Nails?

We like this gentle and effective protein bond and primer. Brush on two coats to minimize nail oil and improve adhesion. This primer is a crucial step for a professional manicure.

However, you might also like to experiment with the Valentino Nail Prep Dehydrator and Valentino Super Bond Primer. The dehydrator gets rid of moisture and oil while the primer is acid-free and compatible with acrylics and gels.

Moreover, Mia Secret Xtrabond is another acid-free primer is compatible with gels, acrylics, and no polishes.

As for the best hard gel to use, we recommend this one:

Lavis Builder Gel - 01 - Bare Neccessities Collection

How to Apply Hard Gel on Natural Nails?


You won’t need a nail art brush with this builder gel because it includes one in the bottle. The smooth formula is very smooth and easy to apply. Not only is it odorless, but it won’t damage the natural nails. Choose from a variety of shades for the perfect look.

Nail artists also enjoy using IBD HARD GEL. Be sure to get the correct type of gel for the project you intend to complete. Some versions of IBD are best for overlays while others are suitable for extensions. The formulas also come in clear or neutral colors.

Lastly, you’ll need a way to cure the gel. Most brands are compatible with LED nail lamps that are energy efficient and fast at curing.

Lavis UV/LED Nail Lamp

How to Apply Hard Gel on Natural Nails?


We love this powerful nail lamp with a rechargeable battery. It has four timer settings for different types of gel products. Then, there’s a motion sensor so you don’t have to smudge your manicure to turn on the light.

The mirror finish interior fits an entire hand and cures from every angle for perfection every time.

How Do You Apply Hard Gel?

Now that you’ve got everything you need, let’s start with the steps for applying hard gel on natural nails.

Step 1: Prep

It's crucial to do proper nail prep before applying hard gel. Start by shaping the nails and pushing back the cuticles. This part goes faster with the help of a nail drill.

Next, prepare the nail plate by removing the shine. Remove the debris and cleanse the nails.

Then, either apply a dehydrator or use a dehydrating wipe.

Step 2: Prime

Follow up with protein bond/primer. It air dries so that by the time you finish both hands you can go back and apply a second coat to all the nails.

Step 3: Apply the Base

Brush on the gel base coat. Double-check that you haven’t applied it over the skin. Then cure it with the nail lamp.

Step 4: Hard Gel

Instead of bunny-hopping and bunching the hard gel like you would with a bead of acrylic, just smoothly draw out the product. If you turn the hand upside down, gravity will help the gel flow into the proper C-shape on top of the nail. Builder gel settles and self-levels in a few seconds.

If you’re doing extensions, only cure the hard gel for 30 seconds then remove the mold. Repeat the curing. Since the gel needs UV light to dry, the mold may block the rays and leave the gel uncured in the middle. If you remove the mold, the light can penetrate.

Feel free to add a second coat if desired. You can also encapsulate enhancements like dried flowers or glitter.

Step 5: Gel Polish and Top Coat

Depending on the brand of hard gel, you may need a cleansing wipe with rubbing alcohol to remove stickiness. Then you can apply colored gel polish and top coat as usual.

How Long Does It Take for a Hard Gel Manicure?

It usually takes an hour or two especially if you’re doing extensions with hard gel.

What Are the Most Common Mistakes When Applying Hard Gel?

Like everything else in life, preparation is important. Don’t skip pushing back the cuticles or applying the primer if you want to keep the hard gel from lifting.

How to Remove Hard Gel From Natural Nails?

Hard gel is acetone-resistant. It’s best to have a professional with a nail drill remove hard gels. If there’s no other option, you might be able to do it yourself with a hand file. However, it won’t be easy and it will take a long time. You’ll have to remove most of the gel and then soak in acetone to scrape off the rest.

The hard gel won’t harm your natural nails because it doesn’t get absorbed through them into the body. That’s why it’s common to fill the gel where it’s grown out and leave a protective layer on the nails. Instead of removing the entire manicure, you can simply dissolve the gel polish on top and replace it with a different color.


Hard gel can protect fragile nails and make them strong and beautiful. Since it’s acetone-resistant, it’s easy to change up your manicure without removing it. This versatile tool is perfect for overlays and extensions. We hope our tips helped you learn how to apply hard gel on natural nails. Check out our weekly deals page to find bargains for all your nail care needs.

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