You have been having gel manicures for a while and now you want to give your nails a break. However, after taking off the old gel polish, you realize that your nails are too weak and can not last by themselves. What are you to do?

Nails can be strengthened by applying a gel base coat and gel topcoat. Gel base coat will bond to the nail surface for two weeks, together with gel top coat they will provide additional strength so natural nails will be much harder, and give nails a clean natural look as an added benefit.

It might sound counterintuitive that you need to put gel polish back on. However, gel polish itself does not damage your nails but the actions of over-buffing and improper removal are the cause of thin nails.

How to strengthen nails with gel base coat and topcoat

If you do gel manicures at home, you already have your nail strengthener kit. It is your gel polish base coat and topcoat combo.

When my customers decided to take a break from color gel polishes but still want a clean manicured look on their hands, I always applied one layer of gel base coat and a couple layers of gel top coat after a regular manicure which consisted of nail shaping and excess cuticle trimming.

This is beneficial if especially if their nails are thin and flimsy to begin with. The process of putting a gel base coat and gel topcoat on the nails is just like adding three extra layers of nail strengthener.

Doing this will make their nails much harder and my customers were happy because their nails would not be breaking, tearing, or peeling so easily.

Side note: if your nails are thin after dip powder or from any other nail artificial nail enhancements like acrylics, hard gel, or polygel, you can use this method to strengthen your nails as well

Strengthening nails with gel polish

One benefit of using gel base coat and top coat as nail strengthener is it will last up to two weeks or more.

If you already know how to do gel manicure, this is just like applying gel polish on your nails without using any colors.

How to apply gel polish to strengthen nails

Apply gel polish for the first time:

Prep the nails as you would normally.

  1. Remove any old gel polish on the nails using any of these safe methods.
  2. Do not try to buff your nail surface too much to remove ridges of dents because it will make your nails much thinner unnecessarily. If a nail surface is bumpy or rough, you can apply additional layers of gel top coat to help to level the irregularities. 
  3. Shorten nails to the length that you are comfortable with. If you want to take a break from gel polish then you should go for a shorter, natural-looking length. This will also minimize nail breakage or splitting.
  4. Apply dehydrator/PH-balance solution on the entire nail surface. Allow time for drying.
  5. Apply a thin coat of gel base coat then cure for 30 to 45 seconds.
  6. Apply a thin coat of gel top coat and cure for 30 to 45 seconds. Do additional coats if necessary.
  7. Clean nails with alcohol or cleanser if needed.

Now you can enjoy looking at your hardened, natural-looking nails. Thanks to the gel base coat and top coat combo.

Apply gel base coat and top coat the second time

You do not have to remove the old gel polish.

After a two-week time or so, you will have a growth area near the cuticles. To apply gel base coat and topcoat to cover this new growth, follow these simple steps:

Wash hands and nails with water and soap.

  1. Do use a nail brush or an old toothbrush to scrub away any cuticles that stick to the nail and let dry for 15 minutes. Warm air from a hairdryer will make the drying time shorter.
  2. Lightly buff the nail surface, and use a shorter edge of a buffer to gently roughen the new growth with only a few passes.
  3. Apply dehydrator/PH-balance solution on the new growth area only. Allow drying completely.
  4. Apply gel base coat on the new growth area only and cure for 30 to 45 seconds. Make sure that you scrape as much base coat on the brush as you can because you are not covering the whole nail. 
  5. Apply gel topcoat on the entire nail surface and cure for 30 to 45 seconds. Do not forget to cap the free edges, especially if you have to trim or shape the nails.
  6. Clean nails with alcohol or cleanser if needed.

You can repeat this process every two weeks, two to three times if it still looks good.

How to remove nail strengthener gel polish

When it is time to remove gel polish as a strengthener, I recommend that you use a method that does not damage your nails.

There are 6 different ways to remove gel polish but my favorite method is the one that can take off gel polish naturally and fast.

Which method you use, make sure you give it time. Rushing through a gel polish removal will damage the nail surface and ruin the shape further which you do not want to happen to them.

best nail strengthener after gel polish

If you already have your gel polish kit and a LED nail lamp, you can use your gel base coat and gel top coat as a nail strengthener without having to buy any nail hardeners.

If your gel base coat and gel topcoat run low, getting old, or having questionable quality, you can use the Gelish brand. This is the brand I use after testing several different ones since I started using it in 2010.

Gelish was the first gel polish brand that came to the market in 2009 and its superior quality is still second to none. That is why professional nail techs and nail salons use them even with gel colors from different brands.

The Fantastic Four Gelish kitOpens in a new tab. comes with four different bottles.

  1. Nail prep: it dehydrates and PH balance the nail surface.
  2. Foundation: gel base coat.
  3. Top it Off: gel top coat.
  4. Nourish: cuticle oil

This kit is the best nail hardener after gel nails. You can use this to repair you nails after gel polish to give your weak, thin nails an added strength until they grow out.

You can buy them separately but they are less expensive if you buy them in this kit.

This high-quality gel kit costs under $40 and will last a year if you use it at home if you know how to store gel polish properly. You can check out the latest price on AmazonOpens in a new tab..

Happy gelling.

Want to know the best nail salon near you? If you know these five things about nail salonsOpens in a new tab., pick out the best nail salon is easy.

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