Can You Over Cure Gel Polish?

When you go to a salon for a manicure, your nail technician makes the 45-minute session seem like a breeze. This may make you wonder what would happen if you attempted a gel manicure on yourself.

During which the 30-second curing time feels too short, so to avoid under-curing you decide to extend this timeframe briefly. But can you over cure gel polish?

Let’s dive right in!

Can you Over cure Gel Polish?

In many cases, you can over cure gel polish if the curing time exceeds 3 minutes. The recommended curing time under UV light from popular bio gel polish manufacturers often ranges from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. You’ll see discoloration, cracking, chipping, or difficult removal in over-cured gel polish.

can you over cure gel polish

People prefer gel polish over regular and acrylic polish because of the time-saving nature of the procedure.

However, when you try to do it at home, identifying when your nails are completely cured might be challenging, causing you to keep them longer in the curing light or lamp.

Therefore this article will discuss over-curing and what to do about it. 

Why Gel Polish Over-Cures

Gel polish, when correctly cured, creates a shiny, glossy feel to nails. However, this result could be challenging to identify, which is why most users tend to over-cure it. So, gel polish over-cures because users exceed the recommended curing time set by the gel polish manufacturer. 

Essentially, gel polish is an improved version of regular and acrylic polish through plasticity to be as close as possible to your natural nails with more flexibility. This is where it gets its name–gel polish or gel nails, after its ability to blend with your natural nails.

Understanding the Dynamics of Applying and Curing Gel Polish

Overexposure to UV light causes your nails to harden, yielding an almost baked result. As a result, gel polish manufacturers specify the required time for curing each coating: the base coat should cure for approximately 15 seconds and about 30 seconds for the top layer. 

You should never neglect the manufacturer’s instructions because of the extensive research invested in formulating the gel polish curing time. A deviation from the recommended time means over-curing. 

However, it is essential to know that wholly cured gel polish has a natural wet sticky layer that helps the polish stick to your nails. This layer is often misconstrued as “not cured,” so people who lack complete knowledge of the process run the risk of over-curing.

Curing Light and Its Implication on Gel Polish

Your curing lamp or light choice heavily impacts the tendency of your gel polish to over-cure. So, if you find yourself asking, “can you over-cure gel polish?” you might want to consider what light or curing lamp you use. Choosing the right curing light or lamp essentially influences the curing result you get with your gel manicure.

For instance, LED lights require about 120 seconds for each layer to cure–not suitable for those days when you are in a hurry.

Factors That Influence Over-Curing

This section discusses the factors that influence the over-curing of gel polish and how to manage such situations.

A Good Quality Curing Lamp or Light

The quality of your curing lamp or light should help you overcome over-curing challenges. Even though LED lamps are pricey, they aren’t superior to UV lamps. Interestingly, LED lamps last longer and provide a healthier option, while UV lamps are more budget-friendly.

Here is a table explaining the particular lamp qualities to look for: 

Lamp/Light QualitiesExplanation
Lamp size The lamp should be big enough to fit in one hand at a time to avoid smudging, due to cramping, comfortably.
Light type 
Some lamps use blue or UV light. While UV light may be potentially hazardous to your skin, blue and LED lights are healthier alternatives. 
Lamp timerTimers help you stick to the recommended curing time. Some lamps have inbuilt timers for an automatic experience.

The Type of Gel Polish Used

Believe it or not, the gel polish you use can help you to prevent over-curing. Also, it is essential to adhere to the standard sequence for the coating to avoid over-curing.

Below is the table that shows the limit of each coat, which means if you cross this line, your gel polish may over cures.

Gel Polish SequenceOver Curing Time
Colored gel polish 80 seconds or more
Base coat 120 seconds or more 
Top coat 120 seconds or more

You can learn more about gel polish drying time to ensure you do it right for each layer via our in-depth article.

Curing Lamp Wattage

an UV lamp used for gel polish curing

Wattage refers to the strength of the lamp or the intensity of the light it radiates—lamps with higher wattage cure gel polish faster than those with lower wattage. As a result, exceeding the recommended time may lead to over-curing. 

Since most people are prone to over-curing with LED lamps due to their lack of radiation–UV effect, here is a comparison table between gel polish curing time and coating sequence.

LED Lamp WattageGel Polish Curing TimeBase Coat Curing TimeTop Coat Curing Time
24 watt60 seconds25 seconds 60 seconds 
48 watt45 seconds20 seconds 45 seconds 
54 watt 45 seconds 15 seconds45 seconds 

Now that you know the factors that lead to over-curing, it is advisable to remain cautious when using the lamps or coating the gel polish, especially when it comes to timing.

Consequences of Over-Curing

Since the advantage of your freshly done manicure is immediate dry nails, over-curing seems like a desirable option. More curing time for better gel nails. However, there are consequences of over-curing.

Essentially, gel polish was designed as an improved version of regular nail polish and came with its fair share of instructions. Due to the heavy polymers used in manufacturing gel polish and its photosensitivity, you could get a lousy manicure if you allow your gel polish to cure for too long. 

The reason is that the UV/LED light hardens the gel polish with prolonged exposure.

In contrast, sticking to the recommended curing time will allow the gel polish to plasticize and retain its flexibility. Brittle nails that quickly crack and chip are the most common consequences of over-curing. Your gel polish may also peel off, or lift, as a result.

Some signs of over-cured gel nails include, but are not limited to:

  • Chipping 
  • Cracking 
  • Peeling 
  • Lifting 
  • Brittleness 
  • Dryness 
  • Stiffness 

How To Fix an Over-Cured Gel Polish

remove gel polish with acetone

Now that you know the consequences of over-curing, it’s time to learn how to do some damage control. Over-cured gel polish can be stubborn to remove since it reacts slowly to acetone compared to well-cured gel polish. 

As a result, it requires more time and effort. The first step is, to begin with, a full soak in acetone to remove the base coat. You will also need a nail file to slough off the top coat gently. After filing, soak in acetone for another 15 minutes, use a cuticle pusher to remove any leftover polish, and wash your hands afterward.

Precautions for Over-Cured Gel Polish

  • Read the application guidelines and follow them to get excellent results.
  • Only use your curing lamp or light within the recommended time.
  • Ensure your gel polish is not thick before using it, and apply all coats thinly.

Final Thoughts 

Now that you know you can over-cure gel polish, you have a reasonable explanation for the brittle, peeling manicure you keep getting that isn’t consistent with gel polish. Your manufacturer’s instruction is invaluable for getting completely cured gel nails.

Last but not least, make sure you know how to use UV light safely, so your manicure don’t have to be a sacrifice for beauty!