Tips to Prevent Gel Polish Chipping at the Free Edge

Tips to Prevent Gel Polish Chipping at the Free Edge

Let's Talk About One of the Most Asked Questions on Forums...

How can I stop my gel polish from chipping at the free edge?

Chipping at the free edge has many causes, from tech error to customer misuse. Getting to the bottom of it is key to a successful application. Let's look at some reasons why gel polish can chip at the free edge.

⭐️ Build-up of Product

One of the first things I always do is look at the picture. Is the gel pooled and bulging at the end? If the answer is yes, a simple application tweak will soon rid you of this pesky bump. When capping the free edge, try capping first before applying to the rest of the nail! This will prevent the gel from the brush flooding back onto the nail when you cap at the end. Wet gel magnetizes to wet gel! So when you cap, the wet nail will attract that product off your brush, creating a hump at the free edge. If you don't remember to cap first, just remove the excess product with a quick swipe before curing! Thick gel at the free edge can lead to undercuring, which can then lead to chipping.

⭐️ Product Too Thin and Uneven

When I'm teaching my gel polish students, one of the things I always say is "thin to win." Gel polish should be applied in even thin layers from top to bottom, each layer perfectly mirroring the one below, leaving no gaps or thin areas. This takes time and skill, which is why gel nails are certainly not easy! The top coat should be lightly floated and not brushed into place to create a smooth dome that enhances your beautifully applied gel. If applied too thinly and unevenly, the gel will simply peel and chip. If any areas are left untouched by any layer of gel, they will lift and chip. Check each layer for perfection. Three thin color layers are much better than two thick ones, ensuring a full cure and preventing chipping.

⭐️ Lamp Issues

Lamps can cause huge issues! Even with the longevity of LEDs, the strength of these little diodes depletes over time, and quicker than you may think! Ensure you change your lamp regularly for a full and safe cure. Hand placement is crucial; if your client's fingers are too far in the lamp, it can inhibit gel cure and cause chipping. Most lamps have hand placement guides. Check with your brand for their lamp recommendations to use with their products. Timing is also important; ensure you are curing your gels according to the manufacturer's instructions.

⭐️ Mucky Free Edge

If you are dehydrating the nail but missing the area underneath the free edge, you could be leaving dirt, oil, grime, and other contaminants that inhibit the adhesion of your gel. Simply ensure you wipe and cleanse underneath the free edge just before application!

⭐️ Client Lifestyle

This goes without saying, it isn't always tech error that causes chipping. Client lifestyle can be a major factor. Does your client work in an office or with a till? Constantly bashing the tips could cause the gel to thin and weaken, wearing down the capping. Do they pick sellotape off boxes or work with cardboard? Constant picking of labels and tape can cause lifting. Teeth can be a big issue; running nails over teeth, picking, or playing with nails weakens the gel and causes chipping.

⭐️ Prep Prowess

Proper prep is the foundation for all nail work. Imagine building a house without a foundation—what will happen? That house will fall and crumble. The importance of good foundations from the ground up is key to good adhesion. Remove ALL non-living tissue from the nail plate. Etch lightly with a 180/220/240 file, taking care not to disturb the intermediate layers of the nail plate. This layer is softer and less stable than your dorsal layer and will disrupt adhesion. Ensure you fully dehydrate the nail plate and prevent re-contamination afterward! These simple tips will ensure a stable foundation is achieved.

Along with all of this:

  • Overuse of primer
  • Mixing of products
  • Old product
  • Product touching the skin
  • And many more...

As you can see, it's not just one possible answer.

If you are not a qualified tech, please ensure you get good training from a reputable brand or educator. Do not assume gel is easy and that anyone can do it. It requires skill and knowledge. Please train and learn.

If you would like to see what courses I run, please take a look here. I offer comprehensive online or in-person courses in all nail technology subjects!

Gel Polish Beginners Course

Online Only Gel Polish Course

See you next time!


Mel xx

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