If you are searching for the best hard gel for nails you are in the right place. Hard gel extensions are so in right now, especially with the dual form technique which makes it super easy to shape the hard gels.
I don’t want to get on the bad side of any acrylic lovers out there, but I must say, hard gels have many benefits over acrylics. Some of the benefits are flexibility, durability, and the fact that there is no time limit on shaping the nail.
Moreover, there are even hard gels that combine all the benefits from both worlds, acrylics, and gels.
It doesn’t really matter if you’re a professional nail technician or a DIY at home gel extension lover, If you want to achieve durable and beautiful salon nails, the Gelish Polygel kit is exactly what you need. And it comes in a various range of prices which will fit your budget.
There are many builder, sculpting, and hard gel brands out there so; it is not easy to decide which hard gel will be the perfect pick for you and why.
So in this review, we will compare the best hard gel for nails on the market today and will tell you what we liked and what we didn’t like, about the hard gel products.
Best Hard Gel for Nails- Gel Extension Reviews
|Best Hard Gel for Nails / Builder Gel Comparison||Rating||Long-Lasting||Price|
|Young Nails False Nail Synergy Hard Gel Kit||3.9 / 5||19 Days||$|
|Gelish PolyGel Professional Nail Technician Builder Gel Enhancement Master Kit||4.8 / 5||22 Days||$$$|
|IBD LED/UV Hard Gel Professional Kit||4.1 / 5||18 Days||$$|
1. Young Nails False Nail Trial Synergy Gel Kit
After hearing so many nice things about this brand, I knew I had to check out their synergy gel kit. My first impression on the young nails synergy gel was actually very positive. The Synergy gel consistency is thicker than other gel brands (not as tick as the polygel but is thicker than other brands).
One of the best things the synergy gel has to offer is the fact it doesn’t run as much as other gels are thanks to his consistency, so you can do both hands and then nuke it.
The young nails synergy gel is sticky, one of the things I don’t like about gels, in general, is the fact that they are so sticky. The final design looked good on the nails.
The young nails gel come in a pot. It is very easy to take out the amount of product you want, although the gel stickiness makes it a bit less comfortable to apply the product to your nails.
No time limit
Like any other gel, you don’t have any time limit to shape your artificial gel nail extension, especially when this gel doesn’t run or move. Just finish designing your nail and then put it under the UV or LED light to cure.
After applying the synergy gel to your tips or forms, you can actually continue and apply the gel to all of your nails and cure it when you’re done, all thanks to the fact this gel doesn’t run or slip. This is saving you so much time, there are gels you have to cure immediately otherwise they will move and make a total mess.
The synergy gel is durable and flexible, and the awesome thing about it is that it doesn’t crack. It lasted on my nails for about 19-20 days without cracking.
I actually loved this product although I loved using the polygel kit way more. The best thing about the synergy gel is the fact it doesn’t run and you can easily apply it to nails and cure it all at once.
I didn’t like the fact the gel is very sticky, but I know it is something that true gel lovers not going to mind. The synergy gel trial kit is actually minimal and will be enough for about 10-15 manicures. For me it was a bit too small, you can also buy a larger kit or only the synergy hard gel itself in a bigger size.
Overall it’s one of the best hard gel starter kits for beginners or professionals who want to test the products. That being said I would recommend a bigger kit for those who want to work on clients.
Trial kit includes
Base gel, concealer pink gel, white sculpture gel, build gel, finish gel, and protein bond.
- Professional results
- Doesn’t run/slip
- Easy to apply
- Great for begginers
- Needs a bit of practice
- Very sticky
- Small kit
2. Gelish PolyGel Professional Enhancement Master Kit
If you are a gel lover and especially if you are an acrylic nail extension lover, you are totally going to enjoy this fantastic product. It has so many advantages. Like traditional acrylics, it has such durability, it’s long-lasting, and one of the best things about this Gelish Polygel is that it doesn’t feel sticky like other hard builder gels. The outcome looked amazing, felt like acrylic extensions but lighter.
Most of the hard gels we know usually come in a pot, unlike them, the Polygel comes in a tube. I actually wasn’t expecting it to be as comfortable as it is. Using the tube, I actually take a “bead” of gel from the tube (that is why acrylic lovers are in love with this) and apply it to the nail.
Easy to use
The one thing I really like about the actual gel is that it isn’t sticky like most hard gels, in fact, it is very easy to control and apply. It feels more like you are applying an acrylic bead and not gel, so that is actually nice.
The gel doesn’t run or slip off the nail as other gels do, this is a huge plus. The thing I struggled with was the product is a bit hard to blend on an Ombre design with the hard gel. So, It will be better to do it with gel polish on top of the gel extension.
No time limit
One of the best things about the Gelish Polygel is that even if you’re not a pro nail technician you can reshape it until it is perfect, you’re not on the clock like with traditional acrylics. Gels need a source of light in order to cure such as LED or UV lamp, so you can take your time and cure your gel after your done shaping the nail. (Read more: Best Mannequin Hands for Nail Techs)
The fact this product doesn’t run or slip off the nail is actually saving you a lot of valuable time. You can actually shape all of your nails before you cure and then you can cure all five fingers together (each hand separately) – this can shave off 10-20 minutes of your working time.
The master kit comes with a multipurpose brush. One side is a spatula which will help you to get the product from the tube to the nail. The second side is a gel brush. The brush is very easy and comfortable to use.
Important: only the master kit includes a brush other kits don’t contain a brush.
The slip liquid
This product works with a gel liquid called the slip solution, so you defiantly will need a small dish when working with the product. The slip solution, unlike acrylic monomers, has a great smell!
Gels are odorless, and this is one of the most significant advantages they have on traditional acrylics. The slip solution is fantastic and helps you prevent the gel from being sticky (when you work with your gel bead on the nail, and you feel a bit stickiness dip your brush into the slip solution and continue working on the bead).
The Gelish Polygel has an amazing wearing time. Lasted on my nails for 25 days – before started to chip. The great thing about it that they grow out looked great and it didn’t lift at all after all this time.
Tip: the polygel is ideal for working with dual forms. If you are not a pro, you can try using dual forms, this will help you shape the nail extension beautifully, and will save you a lot of time.
I absolutely loved this Gelish Polygel master kit. It feels like this product combines all the best in traditional acrylics and builder hard gel. The fact it stays in place and you can finish doing all the nails and then cure is a huge time-consuming advantage. The Polygel lasted on my nails for about 25 days I was actually surprised it lasted for as long as it did.
The product is easy to use, the work with the Polygel is more similar to acrylic bead and not any regular gel, just without the time limit you have on traditional acrylic. The clear color in the kit is actually not as clear as I was used to with other gels.
It has more of a natural clear color to it, I love it but some people might not like this as much as I do. The Polygel gel cures in a LED/UV light.
The price is great for everything that you get in the master kit. But if you are on a budget or don’t need all of the gel colors, there are smaller and more affordable kits of this product such as the Polygel French kit or the Polygel Trial kit.
Master Kit includes
4 gel full size (2 ounce) colors: Natural Clear sheer shade, Bright White opaque shade, Light Pink sheer shade, Cover Pink opaque shade, Slip Solution 240 mL, the pH Bond dehydrator 15 mL, Top It Off sealer 15 mL, Nail Surface Cleanse, 2 fluid ounces, Pro Bond primer 15 mL, Multi-purpose PolyTool and 4 tube keys.
- Not sticky
- Professional results
- Doesn’t run/slip
- Easy to apply
- Great for beginners
- Works great with nail forms
- Needs a bit of practice
- Very sticky
- Hard to make an Ombre design
3. IBD Professional UV Gel Kit Review
I knew this brand for a long time and even tried different products they are selling. Many of my nail technician friends love and use the IBD hard gels so I had to see what is all the fuss about. My first impression of this hard sculpting gel is that like most hard gels it is sticky, the gel itself is less thick than the Synergy gel.
The gel may move and run a bit, so you must be careful and don’t let it gel to your skin and cuticles. Having that said, the outcome was beautiful, it is self-leveling (again – you must see that the gel is not going to self-level and get to the cuticles) And the nails looked crystal clear and beautiful. (Read More:Best nail dipping powder kit reviews)
The IBD professional kit comes in a beautiful case. The builder gels come in pots which makes it very easy to use and to get on the nail.
Easy to file
It is super easy to file gel nails, unlike traditional acrylics. So, a hand file can be enough for this type of filing. You should be careful not to file too hard as you may remove too much product and you will need to refill the nail.
This gel system is durable and long-lasting. The IBD nails lasted about 18 days without lifting or cracking although, I must say I expected it to last a bit longer.
The IBD pro kit will be great for gel lovers, you get a lot of stuff for the price. I’m not a fan of the stickiness of the product but loved the final result and the way it looked on my nails. I loved the kit and the case, it would be great for traveling.
The gel itself self-leveled beautifully, but you need to leave a little gap on the cuticle area when you apply the gel and make sure the gel will not flood your cuticles (this can be a total mess). The IBD gel cures in a UV light.
The IBD Professional Uv Gel Kit includes
0.5 oz. Clear Gel, 0.5oz. Clear Builder Gel, 0.5oz. Ultra White Builder Gel, 0.5oz. Pink Builder Gel, 0.5oz. Gel Polish, 0.5oz. Ultra Seal, 0.5oz. Bonder, 2oz. Cleanser Plus 4oz. Nail Prep, Ultra Fast Nail Glue, Gel Glue, Gel Brush, Nail Wipes, White padded Files, Cuticle Pushers, Nail Tips, DVD, Instructional Booklet.
- Good value
- Self leveled
- Needs a bit of practice
- Not for beginners
Conclusion – The Best Hard Gel for Nails
We found it! Our pick for the best hard gel for nails is the Gelish Polygel system. It has all of the advantages gels have, it’s flexible, feels more natural on the nails and you can shape it without a time limit before curing.
Not only that the Polygel gel system has also all the benefits acrylics have such as durability and our favorite trait – I am not as sticky as most of the hard gel brands. It is easy to use after you practice a bit (it is not the regular gel you know), and it definitely looks amazing on the nails.
The Gelish Polygel will be amazing for professional nail technicians, although nail DIY lovers will really enjoy using this especially with dual nail forms which makes it super easy to use and shape.
3 Must-haves for Hard Gel Nail Extensions
Mia Secret Nail Form for Professional Nail System
If you don’t work with tips, and you want to extend the length of your nail with gel you might need nail forms. Nail forms usually come in a roll, 500 nail forms will often be enough for 50 manicures.
Makart Nail Brush UV Gel Nail Brush Pen Set 6PCS with Roll Up Bag
Gel brushes are very different from acrylic brushes, so if you intend to work with gels make sure you have an excellent high-quality gel brush.
Remember that most hard gel products are super sticky so, low -quality brushes are not going to do the job as well as high-quality ones.
UV/Led Nail Lamp
All hard gel systems need a Led/UV light in order to cure. When using a hard gel system make sure you have a good, high-quality Led/UV lamp to get those hard gel nail extensions to be as fabulous as they can be.
What is the Difference Between Regular Gel and Hard Gel?
Builder gels or hard gels are thicker than regular gels. That is exactly why Nail Techs use builder gels for adding length to the natural nail, something you can’t do with regular gel polish.
Not many people know this but both hard gels and regular gel polishes contain some acrylic-based ingredients.
Hard gel nail extensions are very popular, they are flexible and long-lasting. A builder gel will have a higher viscosity than regular gel, Some hard gels have a viscosity as high as 350,000 -1,000,000 centipoise.
This is why you will need a stronger LED/UV lamp in order to cure hard gels. If you want to cure builder and hard gel use a 36-48-Watt LED lamp. You can cure most regular gels with a simple 6-watt LED nail lamp.
You can use hard gels for creating a beautiful arch, add length, and much more. Always choose a high-quality builder gel to avoid chipping.
Some hard gels are stickier than others which makes them a bit harder to work with, you need to take that in mind while picking the best hard gel for nails that will fit your needs.
Why Trust NailArtGear?
Lina Buk is a nail expert and a nail enthusiast that has been in the beauty and cosmetic industry for the last 11 years. She is the founder of Nailartgear.com and her beauty tips have been featured in magazines across the globe.
She offers detailed information about each product she recommends after trying the products and analyzing numerous user reviews. In this post, she has made a roundup of the best hard gel for nails. She has included some great options for both home use and professional use.