Gel nails provide a long-lasting and durable finish without chipping. Getting gel nails at home can be tricky because you’ll need salon-quality tools. This includes multiple gel polishes, a UV light, and more. Some of these tools can be pricey or inaccessible.
Salon tools like UV lights can run up a high price tag. Some nail brands will only sell their UV lights to licensed nail technicians. While you may be able to find affordable UV lights, they may not be high-quality or offer a long-lasting outcome.
Can you dry gel polish without UV light? UV lights will provide the ideal finish to your gel nails, but you can attempt to dry nails using a few hacks. These hacks may not offer a long-lasting finish but are great if you’re in a pinch or don’t have a light.
Gel polish is more challenging to apply and cure than nail polish because air-drying gel won’t let it harden fully. There are a few hacks you can implement in your nail routine if you’re looking to set gel into place, even temporarily.
So how can you dry gel polish without a UV light?
Why Are UV Lights Necessary To Cure Gel?
Gel has a unique makeup, unlike regular polish. It’s formulated with oligomers and monomers that need to combine for the gel to harden. However, gel can’t harden, dry, or set into place without a UV light combining these components.
It’s a chemical reaction that takes place under a UV lamp. It’s crucial to understand what type of gel you’re working with too. You may be able to set gel without a UV lamp, but it may not look flawless or last as long as salon results.
Types Of Gel
There is more than one gel type, and each has a purpose. Some common types of gel include hard, soft, or gel polish. You can mix these gel formulas to create new nail shapes or designs.
Hard gel is the most durable type of gel enhancement. Hard gels often sculpt new shapes, create nail extensions, or protect your nail plate. However, it may be challenging to cure hard gel without a UV nail lamp.
Hard gels also provide the ideal base for nail art or for creating long nail lengths. You may notice some hard gels are referred to as builder gels.
Soft gel is more durable than polish but not as strong as a hard gel. Most soft gels have a soak-off formula that can easily be removed with acetone. They are great as a protective base, but they won’t be able to create extensions like hard gels.
However, it may be easier to manipulate soft gel to cure without a nail lamp.
We might first think of gel polish when someone mentions gel nails. Gel polish provides color and protection in one step. It may be difficult to cure without a nail lamp, but a few simple hacks may help it set into place.
Also, gel polish may not be as thick as hard or builder gels.
Best Hacks To Dry Gel Without A UV Light
No UV light? You may be able to implement a few hacks in your nail routine to help cure gel without a UV light. These hacks incorporate everyday household items that are accessible and simple to execute.
You may not achieve a salon-quality finish, but these hacks can come in handy if you’re pressed for time or in a pinch. Some gels are easier to set without light than others.
Cooking spray can quickly coat your nails and help increase the chance of your gel staying put. Think of cooking spray as a DIY topcoat. All you need to do is spray a generous coating of cooking spray and allow your nails to dry.
The mix of oils or alcohols found in cooking spray might be able to dry your gel.
Another helpful tip is to get an ice bath ready. Soaking your freshly painted gel nails in a bucket of ice water can help set them in place. Ice can potentially seal and freeze gel, so you can harden gel without needing a UV light.
Ice is also accessible and affordable, so that it can come in handy. Simply soak your nails in an ice bath for a few minutes and allow them to dry untouched.
Work In Thin Coats
A common issue that occurs while working with gel is its thick consistency. Gel polish has a thicker texture than regular polish, and the thicker the coat, the more time you need for it to set.
So, an easy and cost-effective hack is to work in thin layers. Apply as little gel as polish so it can dry quickly and evenly. In addition, this hack will reduce any uncured gel that can get trapped between the nail plate and hardened surface.
Use A Non-UV Formula
Multiple nail brands are producing Non-UV Gel. These polishes mimic the look and feel of gel nails without needing a light.
However, Non-UV Gel polishes are technically not gel because it requires a chemical reaction caused by UV light to harden.
Non-UV Gels are a great option if you don’t have access to a UV light and can most likely air dry.
Bask In The Sun
If you don’t have access to concentrated artificial forms of UV light, try a natural alternative instead! The sun emits powerful UV rays that may cure your gel polish naturally.
The next time you get ready to sunbathe will be an ideal time to dry your gel outside.
Apply A Quick-Dry Spray
Nail brands also formulate quick-dry sprays. These products are formulated to speed up the dry time of polish. Similar to cooking spray, quick-dry sprays will add a protective coating to help set and dry gel polish into place.
Make sure to apply a generous amount of the spray, and you can also work in layers to ensure they set as thoroughly as possible.
Do These Hacks Offer The Same Result As A UV Light?
These lampless hacks can come in handy but may not provide the same salon-quality results. You can use these tips to dry gel temporarily; it may be challenging to get them to last as long as a lamp would.
Your results may vary by the type of gel you want to cure. Hard gel may have more difficulty curing without a UV light than gel polishes.
In addition, your results may not be crisp or clean, but they may be able to set in place, which is the most critical factor. So, it’s essential to remain flexible and manage expectations while drying gel without a UV light.