Structured Gel Nails | What you Need to Know?

Are you someone who’s interested in nail aesthetics? Are you still searching for that perfect manicure?

Nobody wants to have dull, unsightly, cracked nails. When you leave the salon, you expect that you do so with a manicure that’s precise and satisfactory.

Having a beautiful, well-kept manicure completes your look, and should have you feeling confident, classy, and elegant.

Well, the great news is that there are countless high-quality polishes, various reputable salons, and a wealth of information and excellent services available on the market. But, where do you start?

In this article, we’ll dive deep into structured gel nails. This trendy style is arguably the most stunning and long-lasting technique for your nails in the beauty world.

Keep reading to learn more!

What Are Structured Gel Nails? 

A structured gel manicure is a technique that can be used to reinvigorate the look and shape of your natural nails. Structured gel has a thicker consistency compared to other nail gels, allowing for the remodeling and reconstruction of your natural nail. Its formula is designed to provide additional strength and protection with a rubber base.

It works well for those whose nails are rigid, fragile, or weak.

This technique follows the same application and curing procedures as gel colors and has a clear finish, meaning you can use it over regular gel application. 

Rather than only using traditional nail varnish, it’s recommended (especially for those with nails that flake easily or have damage to the surface of their nail) to add a layer of structured gel coat for better coverage and strength. 

This won’t leave your nails feeling or looking thick. The coat will be stiffer and more robust, but it still feels natural.

What Are Structured Gel Manicures?

doing a structured gel manicure

The structured gel manicure, or structured gel overlay, involves applying a thicker, more concentrated layer instead of brushing a traditional nail varnish over the natural nail for you fingernails.

As previously mentioned, it can strengthen your nails while also adding a protective layer. The primary purpose of this manicure is to mitigate and prevent breakage, discoloration, the formation of ridges, painful hangnails, and chipped edges.

The structure gel is capable of a stiffer, more durable coverage than traditional methods, and its reliability makes it favorable.

Whether you go to a salon, or try this out for yourself at home, having more information is valuable! So, let’s cover the basics:

1. Use A Gel With A Higher Viscosity

Selecting a gel product with higher viscosity is essential for manipulating and forming the nail to its desired shape. 

You may frequently see nail technicians applying structural coats with a colored builder-in-a-bottle solution. This formula, which is thick and semi-hard in texture, is much more durable.

However, many of these professional-grade products require primers and bonders for longevity. Repeated use of these adhesion-enhancing substances may cause your natural nails to suffer.

So, while structural gel polishes can improve strength and durability, frequent exposure can cause your nails to yellow, dry out, and become more fragile over time.

2. Thicker Gel Nails

Thicker layers don’t mean bulky and ugly. The structured gel, while thicker in consistency, is meant to strengthen weakened nails.

If the application is done skillfully, you are able to achieve more durable, healthy-looking nails without having to sacrifice the overall aesthetics.

However, applying the gel too thick will prevent the desired glossy, smooth finish. If you are inexperienced, it’s best to visit your favorite, trusted salon and get them done professionally. 

#3. Smooth Apex

So what is an apex? 

The apex is the highest stress area of your nail, typically located where the tip of your finger meets the free edge. Due to the structural vulnerability of this area, more gel must be applied to strengthen and prevent the fracturing or breaking of the tip. 

While this step is necessary for your nails’ structural integrity, leaving a large lump of gel is not. 

Be sure to take your time filing and shaping the gel until you achieve a smooth, beautiful transition between the apex and the rest of the nail. 

Pro-tip: if you’re unsure of where the apex should be when using soft gel, try turning the hand upside down, allowing gravity to build it for you!

What Are The Benefits Of Structured Gel Manicures?

doing a structured gel manicure

Although structured gel nail products are known as hard gels, they are softer than acrylic, but still more durable than soft gels. 

The extensions of acrylic nails are too stiff, putting them at risk of cracking or chipping. Soft gels, on the other hand, are too soft and fail to provide as much protection for your natural nail. Structured gels, however, are a perfect balance of both flexibility and durability. On average, these gels retain their flexibility and durability for approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Overall, a structured gel is a great option for longevity, while simultaneously lowering the risk of damage.

What Are The Differences Between Structured Gel Nails And Acrylic Nails?

Both structured gel and acrylic nails are great solutions to achieve polished, smooth, and long-lasting manicures for weeks. Contrary to popular belief, they are not the same. 

The two different manicures have nothing in common other than the goal of forming a protective coat to rebuild the natural nails. 

Here are some main differences between the two nails you should know:

1. Acrylic nails

An acrylic nail manicure is the best option for anyone who loves a more dramatic and creative look. They can completely customize the shape, size, and design when opting for artificial nails.

Creating acrylic nails involves dipping a powder in a solvent to extend the nails and create a stiffer top coat over the natural nails.

To prepare for the application, the nail is gently filed, creating a rough surface for the acrylic glue to adhere to. A mold is then built around the nail of the desired shape.

A combined mixture of acrylic liquid and powder is then applied to the mold to be shaped and buffed into the desired form and length.

Acrylic nails cure when they come into contact with air, so the application must be done quickly and efficiently.

2. Structured gel nails 

Structured gel nails are great for anyone who wants to keep their natural nails or expand their nails’ length. 

While gels classify as a type of acrylic, their fundamental purposes differ entirely. Structured gels create a smoother, glossier finish than their counterpart, and ultimately favor protection and prevention over creativity and dramatics. 

During application, a primer or bonder is added to serve as a base coat before applying the gel, which is spread thinly on the nail from the cuticle, to the free edge. You can use the gel to slightly reshape and reform the natural nail, however, the main goal is to add resilience to weak nails.

After achieving the desired shape and texture, you may cure the nails. Curing structured gel requires exposure to UV light.

Structured Gel Nails | What you Need to Know?

What Makes Up A Structured Manicure?

The application of gel nails is the same as gel colors. It includes preparing the nails, applying gel polish, and curing. 

1. Prepare The Nails

A structured manicure begins the way most manicures do: filing, cuticle preparation, and the ever-so-relaxing hand massage!

Proper preparation is essential to achieve a clean, perfectly shaped foundation for the gel polish. 

Be sure to file off excess cuticles, as the gel may not adhere correctly to your natural nails. Cut away any sticking-out parts of the cuticle. 

3. Apply The Gel

For a soft gel, the application is simple; apply one coat of gel, and two polishes to complete your manicure. 

With structured gel manicures, however, the process differs. 

First, choose your color of choice (or stick with a clear coat for a more natural finish).

After you’ve prepared your nails, apply a coat of structured gel to your nails using a brush. 

4. Shape The Nails

The structured gel will add plumpness and shape to your nails. After applying the gel layer, remember our pro-tip and turn over your nails to locate the apex. 

Proper placement and shaping of the apex will ensure your natural nails grow out healthily after using hard gel. 

5. Create Extensions (Optional)

If you want extensions, use a piece of paper or a metallic decal beneath the edge of your natural nails before using the gel. 

Apply the structured gel to this shape to create the extension. Remove the paper/decal once you’ve achieved the desired length and form. 

6. Cure your nails

Like other nail varnishes, you need to cure structured gel under a UV lamp or a LED light to dry thoroughly. 

Optional: add a coat of soft gel for added longevity. Remember to cure your nails after application.

How Long Do Structured Gel Nails Last?

The average lifespan of structured gel nails can last 4 – 6 weeks. However, you should reapply after 2 – 3 weeks to preserve the aesthetic of the nails. 

Reapplying with the structured gel regularly is important for the health of your natural nail. Overgrowth can disturb the apex balance, causing chipping, lifting, or breaking.

Sticking to a routine fill every 2 – 3 weeks is the best way to ensure your natural nails continue to benefit from your structured gel manicure.

How Much Does Structured Gel Nails Manicure Service Cost? 

On average, structured manicures range from $50 – $120. Some say the gel nail extension is approximately 20% more expensive than the acrylic counterpart. 

Pricing varies significantly depending on a multitude of factors such as salons, products, locations, or technicians’ experience. 

For instance, a structured gel manicure may range from $80 to $120 in big cities.

Where To Get Structured Gel Manicures?

Many salons offer a long list of gel nail services, however, it may be unclear as to whether or not that includes structured gel manicures.

If you’re unsure, be sure to call your salon of choice and ask them directly.

In general, it’s good practice to contact the salon prior to booking your appointment so they can provide you with the correct services, and you can have the best experience!

How To Remove Structured Gel Manicures?

If you want to remove these manicures at home, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Prepare the essentials: pure acetone, cotton pads, file, buffer, aluminum foil, cuticle pusher, and cuticle oil.
  • Use a nail file to buff the nail extensions.
  • Cut cotton pads into five pieces. Pour pure acetone on these pads and place them on your nails. 
  • Use aluminum foil to wrap your nails for faster removal. 
  • Wait 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil. 
  • Remove the soft gel with a cuticle pusher. If it’s hard, repeat the above steps. 
  • Buff the nail surface and use the cuticle oil to hydrate your nails.

You can also remove gel polish with sugar, if you are using a type that’s soft and easy to peel.

How To Make DIY Structured Gel Manicures?

structured gel nails

If you want to save money and have a moderate amount of experience with nail aesthetics, you can make DIY structured gel manicures. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Prep your nails by cutting, cleaning, and filing to have a smooth surface. 
  • Soften the nail surface with cuticle oil. 
  • Remove oil by washing your hands thoroughly. 
  • Use a buffer to file all edges of your nails. 
  • Remove residue using alcohol.
  • Apply a base coat to aid adhesion.
  • Place your nails under a UV lamp to cure for around 30 seconds.
  • Apply a gel polish.
  • Again, cure under a UV lamp for approximately 30 seconds. 
  • Apply a gel top coat. 
  • Cure your nails under a UV lamp for around 30 seconds or until hardened. 
  • Use cuticle oil to hydrate your nails. 


Here are some frequently asked questions about structured gel nails:

Is Structured Gel The Same As Hard Gel?

The term “structured gel” refers to soft and hard gels. They provide a stronger, more structurally sound result to protect your natural nails and create extensions. 

Do You Need A Base Coat With Structure Gel?

The short answer is no. A base coat is an optional product when making structured gel manicures.

Is Structured Gel Good For Your Nails?

Yes! These products are helpful for weak and easy-to-break nails due to their durable formula.

How Long Do Structured Gel Nails Last?

The average longevity of these manicures is 4 – 6 weeks. 

Should I Get A Structured Gel Manicure?

This style is a go-to option if you want to add coverage and protection to your nails while keeping their original length. 

Can You Paint Over Structure Gel?

Absolutely! You can use other nail products on the structured gel after it’s completely dry. 

Wrapping Up

Today we went into depth about the benefits, basics, and best techniques to achieve flawless, healthy nails.

Whether you’re an amateur nail technician looking to learn more, or someone that suffers from brittle, cracking nails and is searching for a fix, our daily nail guides cover it all!

The information you gathered today will help you navigate your decision-making in the future. Overall, the structured gel manicure is the most well-rounded option when it comes to improving overall nail health and aesthetics. The procedure is more complex, but the results are most certainly worth the effort, time, and money.