Soft Gel Nails: Everything You Need To Know In 2023

You can never go off course with a soft gel overlay. It is the go-to manicure that will give you a natural feel and look but last 2 weeks longer than regular nail polish. So what are soft gel nails, and what should you know about them?

What is Soft Gel Nails

Soft gel nails are often referred to as soft gel extension products. The appointment takes around 40 to 60 minutes and involves curing each layer with a UV or LED nail lamp. The curing gives the overlay a longer-lasting effect, and it needs to be soaked with acetone to be removed.

Soft gel nails have many aspects to consider before trying them. We will look at everything you need to know in 2023 about soft gel nails to ensure you make a decision that suits your needs best.

Why Is Soft Gel A Trend In 2023?

Your standard person in 2023 is busy and goal-driven but wants to be stylish and come across as professional and clean. Unfortunately, while this image makes a statement, some are mothers or working with their hands, which leads to the nails not fitting the ideal image.

With soft gel nails, you can conquer the world. It chips and lifts less and won’t start coming off after one batch of dishes you washed. It can be done on your natural nails, and if you decide to go for a natural look with no fancy art, the appointment won’t take up too much time during your hustling.

How Long Is An Appointment For Soft Gel?

The appointment for soft gel nails will be a good break from your daily life and short enough that you won’t have to watch the clock in anxiousness. A standard application of soft gel on natural nails can take around 40 minutes, depending on the nail tech’s skills and the colors you choose.

How To Apply Soft Gel Nails?

Luckily for those DIY lovers, you can do soft gel nails at home. You will need a few tools and a specific product, but once you have it, you can easily do 6 to 10 soft gel sets at home. You need the following products:

  • Fine nail file
  • Nail buffer
  • LED or UV lamp compatible with the product you use
  • Gel nail primer
  • Gel base coat
  • Gel colors
  • Gel top coat
  • Cuticle pusher

Step 1: You must prepare the nails by trimming them and treating the cuticles. Smooth the nail surface with a buff and clean the nails with alcohol wipes to ensure no debris is left.

Step 2: Add a primer to the nail to dehydrate the nail. This will ensure that the gel overlay sticks better to the nail surface.

Step 3: Apply a gel base coat layer, and cure it under the lamp for 60 to 120 seconds.

Step 4: Choose your favorite color gel, and start with one thin layer. Cure the layer and add up to three layers of color gel.

Step 5: This is the fun step where you can add colors, nail art, or gems to your overlay. Be sure to cure the art, whether you use builder gel or regular gel to set your masterpiece.

Step 6: Use a specific gel top coat to finish the overlay. Cure it for 1 to 2 minutes to ensure everything is dry and set.

Step 7: Rub cuticle oil on the cuticles and lotion on the hands, and you are ready to flaunt your new set.

What Can You Add To A Soft Gel Appointment?

A soft gel appointment usually entails preparation of the nail, the standard overlay with base, color, and top coat, all cured under a UV lamp for 1 to 2 minutes per layer. Apart from this, you can add different colors and art to a soft gel manicure.

  • Different colored nails, or stripes on the same nail
  • French (white tip) or ombré
  • Hand-painted symbols or art
  • Gems or nail stickers

Usually, you can add a removal with a new set to one appointment. The removal takes around 15 minutes, which can keep your appointment under an hour if you keep the new set simple.

The Risk Of Soft Gel Nails

Soft gel nails are not harmful to your nails and might even keep biters at bay, making them a healthier option than regular nail polish.

However, the harm comes in when you apply the soft gel and during the removal process. The application relies on a UV nail lamp to dry the layers. This UV light can be pretty dangerous, and there is a slight chance of skin cancer.

Advanced technology has found that LED lamps are less harmful than UV, and more and more companies are producing soft gel products that comply with these lamps. Another way to protect your hands from the lamps is to take breaks between sets (less exposure to the UV lights) or to use sunscreen before your appointment.

The second risky part of soft gel nails is the removal. If done correctly, there won’t be any damage, but too long soaks in acetone, harsh scraping, and excessive buffing can lead to long-term damage to your nail bed. In addition, acetone has a drying effect, and aftercare is essential to hydrate the skin and nails.

Thus, if you are not confident that you can safely remove soft gel yourself, opt for a salon removal to ensure no damage to your nails or fingers.

What Is The Cost Of Soft Gel?

A soft gel overlay can vary between $35 and $60. These are reasonable ranges, but you might come across some soft gel manicures costing over $70. The price usually depends on a few factors:

  • The salon or nail tech you go to
  • The treatments you want to add to your soft gel manicure

The location of the salon drives the price. Thus, you might pay a lot more for a soft gel overlay in a spa or Miami Beach than at a nail tech’s private home salon. On the other hand, you will also pay extra for the experience. Nail salons and techs that service celebrities and are known for their exceptional skills will ask more for their services.

Then, you will pay extra for nail art, extensions, or adding a treatment like a hand massage or mask. Removal of gel usually costs an additional $10.

Gel nails can be filled every two weeks instead of removing and adding a new set each time. However, filling the gel nails can cost you around $20.

The New Kid On The Block: Soft Gel Extensions

A product on the market getting more attention is soft gel extensions. Although this is an entirely different overlay and gel type, we decided to mention it if you fall in love with soft gel overlays but need the extra length.

These extensions are made from soft gel, which you buy as already-formed nails with extra length. These are then applied to give you a natural length, not too thick and lasts up to 4 weeks.


Soft gel nails will give you a professional, fun, and long-lasting manicure while working on your 2023 goals, whether in the office, kitchen, or gym. But, of course, you can treat yourself to soft gel nails any time.