Love Nail Art? You Need to Try a Japanese Gel Manicure

You likely already know what a gel manicure is—and if not, here’s a simple guide we made to the different types of manicures that are offered in salons. Though comprehensive, if we were to make an addendum to the guide now, we would add one more type of manicure steadily on the rise here in the States and is especially beloved amongst nail art lovers: the Japanese gel manicure.

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Named for where the products and techniques originated from, the Japanese gel manicure uses a soft gel polish that’s highly pigmented and can easily be manipulated to create intricate designs in fine detail thanks to its flexible composition.

Another one of its distinguishing factors is that Japanese gels can be used to build nail extensions, meaning you can get the length and strength of hard gels without the bulk of them (which can also make them harder to remove).

On that note, a Japanese gel manicure can easily be removed by gently filing down the top layer of the polish and topping each nail with a small piece of acetone-soaked cotton before wrapping them in foil to seal them off.

After ten to 15 minutes, you can remove the foils, one by one, starting with the first finger you wrapped. The gel should be peeling off or lifting from the surface of your nail, so that you can slide off the residual polish using a cuticle stick. If the polish shows no signs of lifting, wrap it back up and re-soak that nail for another few minutes.

Japanese gel manicures can last up to four weeks, at which point the most obvious sign that it’s time for a fill is that you’ll start to see new regrowth at the base of your nails. Apart from that, it’s remarkable how well they hold up in terms of color and shine, which is another reason why Japanese gel manis are so popular.

Truly the only downside we can think of for them is that they tend to be on the pricier side. Most Japanese gels we’ve gotten cost anywhere between $100 to $150, depending on how many designs were added and where we got them done. But if you’re looking to do something different from your usual mani and want it to last for a few weeks, we’d say it’s well worth it.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...