We’re all busier than ever, and regular trips to the nail salon may just not be in the cards for many of us anymore. Not to mention the cost of goods and services has increased in most cities across the country. So what if you could achieve salon-worthy gel nail extensions at home? Thanks to a company called Aprés Nail, you can. Our editors are big fans of the concept (it’s a 2023 NewBeauty Award Winner), and though Gel-X nails have been around since 2018, these modern tips are trending big right now.
I spoke to Eunice Park, research and development manager of Aprés Nail (she is also a licensed nail tech who had salon experience prior to joining the company), and celebrity nail artist Trenna Seney to find out more about the Gel-X revolution everyone is talking about right now.
What are Gel-X nails?
“Aprés Gel-X is the world’s first full-coverage, soft gel extension system,” says Park. “Aprés invented and launched Gel-X in 2017, and since its launch, Gel-X has revolutionized the nail industry by providing easy, beautiful, durable soft gel extensions. The system is very easy, accessible and great for everyone from pros to home enthusiasts. Our Gel-X Nail Extension Kit is a great starting point.”
Each Kit ($120)—it’s also a 2023 NewBeauty Award Winner—comes with 600 pieces and 14 different nail sizes to ensure a proper fit for everyone. The nails come in square, round, coffin, almond, and stiletto shapes, and five different lengths: long, extra long, medium, short and extra short. There are also two unique styles: “Natural” has a flatter surface with a less-pronounced C curve, making it ideal for those with a flatter, wider nail bed; “Sculpted” has a higher apex and deeper C curve. When you create your kit, you choose your preferred style, length and shape, and then you can purchase more tips (or different styles) separately when you need a restock.
Is Aprés the only Gel-X nail product on the market?
“Gel-X is a trademarked name by Aprés Nail, which patented the Gel-X system,” Park says. “Technically speaking, no other brands can launch anything called Gel-X, as it is a proprietary name and product.”
How do Gel-X nails compare to other types of at-home nail extensions?
“Gel-X nails are a pre-shaped tip that are already made a gel,” explains Seney. “Using soft gel, you apply the tip to your natural nail and then cure it with LED light. It lasts for weeks and it allows the natural nail to grow without damaging it.” When compared to a stiff, plastic-like press-on nail, Gel-X feels firm, yet more flexible like a natural nail. Like at-home faux lash kits, it may take some time to get the hang of applying Gel-X nails, but for most users, the results are worth it (the thousands of five-star reviews are proof).
What are some pro tips for beginners?
Seney says it’s important for anyone doing their nails at home to make sure they have all the proper tools. “Take your time and don’t skip any steps!” she adds. “And absolutely do not rip off your nails when doing removals, so you don’t harm your real nails.”
Aprés also introduced Neutrals Gel-X Tips, which Park says make Gel-X even easier. “They’re made from our signature soft gel formula, but infused with different shades of very wearable nudes. We also recently launched Extend Gel Novice, which makes application even easier for the newbie. New users often have a tricky time preventing the Extend Gel from overflowing and properly maneuvering the Gel-X Tip under a light to cure.” Extend Gel Novice ($23) is HEMA-free and has a thick, putty-like consistency that helps keep the Gel-X Tip in place. It allows users more time to adjust the placement of the Tip or correct any mistakes before curing.
Can you paint Gel-X nails before applying them?
Park says you can paint the Gel-X Tips prior to application, as long as the nail bed portion is left clear for the light to penetrate through. “The nail bed portion is the most important area to keep clear so that proper application can be made onto the natural nail.”
Can you cure press-on nails with Gel-X?
It’s not impossible (of course there are TikTok video tutorials), but Park says it’s not recommended. “It’s best to use Extend Gel with our Gel-X Tips for the best results, as they are meant to be a part of one system.”
Can you use Aprés Gel-X nail extensions if you have short nails?
“Yes and no,” says Seney. “There needs to be enough nail for the tip to hold onto as a base. I sometimes have clients that are nail biters. If the nails are too short, it will not work. If your nails are too short, the nail is more prone to coming off because there isn’t a good foundation for the Gel-X nail to sit on. But, for clients with short nails that are ‘long enough’ for the tip to fit, it will absolutely work.”
How do you remove Gel-X nails?
“File off the top coat, color and bulk of Gel-X Tip,” says Park. “Soak a cotton ball in acetone and wrap the nails in foil. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and then gently push off the lifted gel.”
How long do Gel-X nails last?
With proper prep and application, Park says Gel-X nails can last four to six weeks.
Can you get Gel-X nails at salons too?
“Yes, but Gel-X nails are not available everywhere,” Seney explains. “Only specific salons or nail artists offer this service because the nail tech has to be good at applying the nail so that they last for weeks. Depending on where you’re located, ask around to see if that service is offered at your salon, or find a good nail artist.”