As a professional nail educator and enthusiast, I can say that I've worked with almost every type of gel there are in the nail industry. People have often asked me what are the difference and they just can't figure out all the craze about gel, soak off gels, hard gels, gel polishes etc etc...it's all getting a little confusing and finally, they figured out that as long as you stick their nails under the UV lamp, it's gel....(even some people get away with acrylic or polish and a gel top coat!) well, that's not "entirely" wrong either!
Also known as hard gel was introduced as the earliest form of light cured nail enhancement (artificial nail extensions) commonly available in clear, pink and white. It's UV-light cured and it is non-porous. The only way to remove is by filing off by a trained professional.
Traditional gel is still very important and useful if you want to wear nails long term as it is very strong, durable and doesn't yellow. You can wear the nails really long or short as this gel has a lot of strength. Infill is highly recommended. Traditional gel is still the way to go for designer nails, competition nails and it works wonders in the hand of a trained technician. Today it cures in both UV and LED lamps depending on brand.
Soak Off Gel
Also known as soft gel is more flexible and as it is porous, it can be broken down and removed by soaking off with acetone. Soaking off can take between 15-20 minutes depending on thickness and it is recommended for people who like to remove or change their nail enhancement often. Available in clear, pink, white and also assortment of colors in a pot that is applied with a brush, curing layer by layer. Colors can be custom mixed and they tend to be a tad thicker than regular polish and yet still look natural and shiny and stays on for 4-6 weeks. Soak off gels can be used for short extensions and not recommended for long extensions as they can be too flexible (again depending on the brand). Some brands recommend inserting silkwrap for strength. Infills are not highly recommended as soak off gels do tend to yellow over time because of its porous nature. Soak Off Gel or Soft Gels still requires the skill of the nail technician for a perfect and durable application, and they can give your nails a complete makeover, even for nail biters as it offers bonding, strength and shine. Cures in both UV and LED lamps depending on the brand(s).
New Generation Gel Polish
Also known as a hybrid brush on gel polish that applies like polish and wears like gel for up to 3 weeks and it comes in a polish bottle and can be cured in both UV and LED lamps. The 2 most important feature in this hybrid gel polish is that it incorporate different volatile solvents that allow them to soak off faster (up to 75% faster) than the current soak-off gels in potted jars, and the hybrids have other ingredients to lower the viscosity so that application is more similar to that of a polish that requires little to no prep. In other words, you can almost DIY at home. I don't know if this is good news for us nail professionals but it's definitely the biggest breakthrough since the advent of gel nails and it's taking the industry by storm. Every nail manufacturer in the nail industry is launching their own line of brush on gel polish and it will certainly be exciting to see how each formula stands out.
I found out from a reliable chemist that amongst 2 things that distinguishes the high quality gel polish from others is that :
1) The color stays true and does not separate or settle in the bottle and does not require shaking
2) It is Odour Free
I guess it would be accurate to say that when comparing prices between these hybrid polishes, these 2 features would be of key consideration with regard to quality.
New Generation Gel Paint
THIS is something really new and I'm loving it. It is the highest quality paint in the form of gel and can be cured both in UV or LED lamp. Think "The ONE" :)
I don't need to elaborate more, if you look at my earlier posts, you can see that a picture paints a thousand words !The ONE