|Image courtesy of nsinails.com|
In very basic terms, "hard gels" are the original gel nail enhancements - they are clear, hard, non-porous, flexible and must be removed by soaking off. They are highly non-porous and solvent resistant, which is why they must be filed off, but that also means that it is almost unheard of for them to yellow due to staining or with exposure to chemicals or sun.
Soft gel/ soak off gel/ hybrid gel polish is very flexible, thin, generally require only minimal nail preparation before application, and most times are not build-able (though there are brands now making soak off gel builders and Biosculpture has made build-able soak off colored gels for over 25 years).
Hard gels and soak off gels have a very similar base - however soak-off gels are a specifically designed and formulated acrylate base with a higher molecular weight which results in an elongated molecular structure. This creates space between the cross-linking agents and the oligomers allowing penetration of solvents which break down the gel.
UV/LED lamps work the same with soak off gels as they do with hard gels. And as with hard gels, using one lamp for all products is risky because you run the risk of under- or over-curing. You may not even realize the gel is under-cured (it will look hard on top well before it’s actually done fully curing), so you could unknowingly be exposing the client to uncured product, which can cause adverse skin reactions. I cannot stress this enough. Please read my posts on lamps (part 2 here)
One very interesting quality about soak off gels is that they actually get harder to remove the longer they are on the natural nail (per Doug Schoon, president of Schoon Scientific and renowned nail industry chemist). Just like any nail enhancement, they should be maintained every 2-3 weeks. And remember, that not all enhancements work for all people. so if a client can't get more than a few days of of wear out of a soak off gel, they might want to consider as stronger enhancement. I know this from personal experience - I can usually get 1-2 days of wear out or regular nail polish on my natural nails and gel polish gives me 3-4 days, if I'm lucky,
As with any nail enhancement (and they ARE enhancements, even if they are not mean to be worn as long as a hard gel), improper preparation and improper removal can still damage the natural nail, as many clients have unfortunately found out. “Gel-polish should come off easily with no heavy-handed or forceful scraping,” says Doug Schoon. “If you have to force the product off at all, you are doing something wrong.”
|Courtesy of Doug Schoon|