Polygel Nails Are the Long-Lasting Alternative to Gel Manicures

  • Polygel is a hybrid of acrylic powder and gel polish.
  • A polygel manicure will last about three to four weeks.
  • Keep reading for tips and inspo for your next polygel-nail appointment.

We all want our meticulously applied professional manicures to last as long as possible — especially when there is intricate (and expensive) nail art involved. In such situations, standard polish just won't do. Thankfully, there are a ton of manicure options out there that are longer lasting to keep your mani from chipping moments after you step out of the salon — think: gel, Gel-X, acrylic, and polygel.

Here, we're talking all things polygel, the gel manicure's older sister. Polygel manicures can be less damaging than a gel mani and require less chemical exposure than acrylics. Interested in trying out a polygel manicure? Read on to get all the information you need as well as polygel-design inspo.

What Is Polygel?

"Polygel is a hybrid of acrylic powder and gel polish," says celebrity manicurist Sunshine. "When mixed together, it has a pasty, putty-like consistency that's soft." The popular nail enhancer gives nail techs flexibility because it's malleable, so it won't set until it's cured under a UV or LED lamp. You can stick with your natural length or go for a sculpted extension, and just like traditional polish, polygel comes in a bunch of shades. "In order to apply it you need a liquid slip solution that will assist in the product going on smoothly," explains Sunshine. After it's been cured, wiped with a lint-free cloth, filed, and buffed, a topcoat is applied, and then it's under the lamp again.

What Is the Difference Between Polygel and Acrylic?

"With polygel, you're able to maneuver it for a longer period of time," says LeChat Nails educator Syreeta Aaron. "It allows you to manipulate it for as long as you like, versus acrylic, which dries and hardens soon after applying." That means there's time to get the perfect shape. Know that polygel goes on thinner than acrylic and requires no monomer (that's the liquid component with a strong smell). "Polygel gives the durability of acrylic, yet is scent free, deeming it to be possibly healthier since you're not inhaling monomer chemicals," Aaron says.

How Long Do Polygel Nails Last?

Polygel nails will last about three weeks or even four if applied correctly, Sunshine says. Of course, that all depends on your lifestyle and how much you use your hands. Leave the soda-can opening and pistachio-nut shelling to a friend if you want your nails to last the full month. The good news is that when your polygel nails need reviving, they can be filled in without a complete redo. And when it's time for a complete overhaul, your nail tech should be able to let you know.

Can I DIY Polygel Nails?

Technically, you can, but it may not be super easy. There are two methods of polygel application, Sunshine says. "The one most professionals use is applied on the natural nail or to extend the nail." The other type of polygel is applied to a form in the shape of a press-on nail. Once it's cured, you pop the form off. "My tip for DIY would be to use this method out of the two," she suggests. There are kits out there with the polygel essentials, like the Gelish Polygel Brand Nail Enhancement French Kit ($130) or Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit ($50, originally $70), to get you started.

How to Remove Polygel Nails

Typically, polygel is filed off, and your nail pro may opt for an electric file. "It's not a soft gel, so it takes a little arm muscle to file off and remove by hand," Sunshine says. "Once it's almost all filed off, you can remove the little that is left by soaking nails in acetone."

How Do I Find a Manicurist Who Can Do Polygel?

Do your research. If you currently get your nails done regularly at a place you love, ask if they do polygel. You can also ask friends and fellow nail-lovers, follow nail artists in your area on Instagram, and look at online reviews to find your manicurist match. Prices range from around $60 to $150.

Best Polygel-Nail Ideas and Designs