Deciphering the world of manicures can be tough – after all, there are so many new terms and products to learn about! Gel manicures, especially soak off gel and hard gel, are all the rage now due to their long-lasting abilities. Regular nail polish takes forever to dry and is prone to chipping off easily. On the contrary, gel nail polish is quickly dried by curing under UV/LED light and lasts for up to two weeks with no chipping or smudging.
There are two main types of gel manicures: soak off gel and hard gel. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of both, as well as the various salons in Hong Kong which provide these services.
Before we begin, you may be wondering if it is even worth it to go to a nail salon to get a gel manicure when it is possible to DIY it at home. After all, all you need is the gel nail polish and the UV/LED lamp to cure it. However, we suggest to go to a nail salon as gel nail polish can damage your nails if done incorrectly. It is also important to get it removed by a professional as otherwise, they may strip the top layer of your nail beds off. This could cause serious long-term damage and dryness.
Plus, getting a manicure done is an overall relaxing experience! Just sit back and let someone else give your nails the pampering and the tender loving care they deserve!
Now that that’s settled, let’s look at the main differences between soak off and hard gel nail manicures.
What is a soak off gel manicure?
Also known as a soft gel manicure. They are quite porous and therefore, can be easily removed by soaking in acetone (i.e. nail polish remover) for around 10 minutes. The curing process under a UV/LED lamp significantly hardens the gel polish – this gives it its strength and long-lasting abilities but also makes it look shiny yet natural for as long as you have it on!
- The manicure will last for around 2 weeks without chipping or damage – and it will look freshly applied the whole time.
- If removed properly, soak off gel nail polish will cause minimal damage to your nails. Removal is pretty easy too, as the name implies, all you have to do is soak it in acetone. Do not attempt to pop the nail polish off by yourself without soaking it in acetone first! This will cause significant damage to your nails.
- It’s especially good for short- to mid-length nails that are a little weak as it will strengthen them and correct their shape.
- You cannot add length to your nails with soak off gel nail polish.
- If you opt for soak off gel manicures consistently over a long period of time, you may notice your nails getting dry and brittle. To avoid it, give your nails a break of 2-3 weeks in between soak off gel manicures. You can also soak your nails in warm coconut oil every 3-6 months. Simply microwave a small amount of coconut oil for 30 seconds, then soak your nails in it for 5 minutes every day for one week. Your nails will be fully revamped in no time!
If your soak off gel manicure is improperly applied, you’ll notice your nail looking extremely dry, brittle and weakened after removal. Therefore, it is important to pick a reputable salon to get a high-quality service. Here are our top picks:
- Lavana in Central
Soft gel manicures are 450HKD here and they have excellent customer reviews. The manicure will take about 75 minutes.
- Lune Lapin in Causeway Bay
This salon is your best bet if you’re on a budget, they offer soft gel manicures for 368HKD – a total steal! It will take about 90 minutes though, so make sure your plan your schedule accordingly.
- Nail Secret in Tsim Sha Tsui
This salon is your best bet if you’re short on time. Soft gel manicures are at 438HKD here! Plus, the whole process only takes about 60 minutes.
What is a hard gel manicure?
Unlike a soak off gel manicure, hard gels are not porous and cannot be soaked off. They will need to be filed off. It is hypoallergenic and odourless too!
- The manicure will last for up to 3 weeks with no chipping or damage. It will look shiny and beautiful the whole time too!
- This manicure can add length to your nails.
- The removal process can cause damage to your nails, in fact, the damage is similar to that done by acrylic nails. You must absolutely go to a professional to get them filed off!
- Extra care must be taken to ensure no long-term damage is done. Regularly treat your nails with warm coconut oil as described above and rehab your nails at the salon in between manicures.
As hard gel manicures do cause damage to your nail, it is even more important that you pick an experienced artist and reputable salon. These are our recommendations:
- Glorious and Gorgeous
You are guaranteed a high-quality manicure at Glorious and Gorgeous – their service is excellent and their artists are talented and experienced. A hard gel manicure here costs 480HKD and will take about 60 minutes.
- Korea Hankuk in Causeway Bay
Korea Hankuk specializes in Korean beauty techniques for Hair and Nail. A regular hard gel manicure will cost 400HKD and will take 60 minutes.
- Luxe Beauty in Tsim Sha Tsui
A hard gel manicure will cost around 380HKD and will take 60 minutes, in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui.
So, there you have it – the differences between soak off and hard gel polish and the places in Hong Kong that you can get a quality manicure of either done!