How to avoid lifted gel nails?

As a nail stylist you want your client's gel nails to last up to 4 weeks, wether it's a new set or a refill. You want your clients to be happy with the result and the durability of their nails. 

Gel that has lifted or the gel that has cracked is not only bad for your reputation or your business, but you want to avoid nail fungus at all cost! You don't want the extra repair work and your clients want healthy and beautiful nails up till their next refill. 




Lifting can be caused by several different reasons. That's what makes it hard for you as a stylist. Common causes of lifted or cracked gel nails are:

  • Incorrect preparation of the natural nail
  • Incorrect product application technique
  • Over-filing of the nail plate
  • Mismatch of products used vs nail type
  • Type of primer and base product used on the nails



Gel that lifts from the natural nail is annoying for your clients. Not only do their nails get stuck in their hair or clothing, but the gel nail is also less strong. In the end their nails might break and you don't want this to happen. Not only because the gel may detach from the nail, but what if their natural nail breaks in a very unpleasant and painful way? True horror for you and your clients. 

And another big concern of lifting is that air gap is formed between the natural nail and the gel. This means that there is litteraly some space for water, dirt, baceteria and more to nest and grow there. If your client doesn't pay attention to it, she might end up with a nail that is infected with fungi. And you know that this can take months to recover from and regain a healthy natural looking nail. 


The key to preventing lifting of gel is to adapt a personal approach when it comes to servicing your gel customer. It's up to you as a professional to adapt your products and techniques accordingly. Here are 5 things you need to take care of if you want to stop lifting from ruining your set of gel nails:



  • Does your client have normal nails or dry nails?
  • Can you recognise greasy nails?
  • What about flexible nails or damaged nails?
  • Do you have a client with spoon nails?
  • Nail biters between your clients? 

It is important to examin your clients nails in depth.
Learn more about all nail types in the related Tech Talk: 



Preparation is key to any good set of nails! Here are some tips you should keep in mind when peparing your client's nails.

Grease is not your friend

Your client's nails should never be greasy. Any greasy residu on the nail will cause bad adhesion. Use the Pro Septic spray, which is highly concentrated in alcohol, to degrease the nails and remove moisture from them. 

Stop touching the nails

You might have the tendency to touch your client's nails while you're working on them, but try to loose this habbit. 

Use the right tools

If you are using a nail drill, use the right bits to prepare your client's nails. Only use a Sanders Fine 180 at the correct speed (6000 RPM) on a natural nail (otherwise you might end up over-filing the nails).

!  Also use Pro Septic and a nail brush to remove dust after filing.
!  Never use a file or buffer block in case it's a gel refill. 

Don't use too much product

The Primer is a great product that will ensure the perfect adhesion of the gel to the nail. It's highly recommended for greasy nails.

But, if you use too much Primer, it will loose it's effect.

Note: don't touch the cuticles with the primer.



Many stylists have the misconception that in order to provide the perfect
adhesion of the gel to the nail, they need to file the natural nail thouroughly.
Of course this has the complete opposite result. As a result of too much filing,
the natural nail is thinner and more flexible, resulting in lifting of the gel
from the nail
and in an over-sensitive nail. 

You don't only need to know what you need to do, but also which tools to use.
Using a wrong bit on your nail drill to work on your client's nails can cause a
lot of issues. If you use an agressive and hard bit (that is designed to easily
and swiftly remove Hard Builder Gels) on a Flexi Builder or natural nail,
you might end up scraping of layers off natural nail in just one simple

For you as a professional it is crucial to understand how to correctly file
your client's nails without overworking them



Getting a good adhesion of your gel is essential. In our ProNails gel range we have 2 types of products that are curcial for avoiding lifting: primer & base gels.

Match the right primer to the right nail type.
Before you start applying your base or builder gel it's crucial to prepare the nail first. Use a primer to prepare the natural nail plate. The primer will guarantee a perfect adhesion of the gel, but you need to chose the right primer for the right type of nail and apply it correcly.

  • Acid Free Formula Primer: this is a 100% acid free primer. Perfect for dry, brittle, normal & sensitive or damaged nails. Also recommend for clients with sensitive skin. 
  • Universal Formula Primer: this primer ensures a perfect adhesion of base & builder gels on greasy nails.



Step 1: Correct primer application


2 doses for 1 hand. Apply first dose on thumb and index finger. Then the second dose from middle to little finger. (2+3 method). Gently push the primer into the nail surface from the cuticle to the free edge (only place on the natural nail surface). Do not touch the cuticles with the primer.


1 dose for 1 hand. Start from thumb towards little finger. Gently push the primer into the nail surface from the cuticle to the remaining gel area (only place on the natural nail surface). Do not touch the cuticles with the primer.


Step 2: Choosing the right base gel

It's the base gel that ensures the right adhesion of the builder gels to the nail. We have different types of base gels:

  • very runny ones (very low viscosity)
  • runny ones (low viscosity so it won't run into the cuticles if you work more slowly).

It's up to you as a nail stylist to chose the base that works for your client and that works for you in terms of working speed. All base gels are applied 5 fingers together and are cured in just 30 sec SOFT in the Smart Light



This is the miracle solution for clients with very flexible nails. It's a brush-on application and the gel is very runny. This type of base requires a high working speed since it's so runny. No external gel brush needed, no cleaning and no product loss.



This base is suitable for all nail types, also very greasy nails. This base is the all-time favourite of experienced nail stylists: very runny, so it requires a high working speed.



This base is a flexible medium viscosity bonding gel which is easy to apply. This transparent base gel can be used under any builder gel and offers a perfect adhesion to normal, dry and strong nail types. Also recommended for clients with spoon nails.



This base gel is easy to use, it's less runny and therefore also perfect for beginning nail stylists and students. When this pink bases dries it has a touch of baby pink finish so it's the ideal base for a soft french manicure look. Also recommended for clients with spoon nails.


Step 3: Choosing the right brush for your base gel


Very runny base gels like the Base Perfect require no pressure on the brush when applying the base on the nail.
The Premium Brush N°5 is ideal for applying the Base Perfect and also all your colour gels.


Medium runny base gels like Base Clear and Base Pink are applied with little pressure on the brush. For the best application you should use Premium Brush N°2 Unlimited M or Premium Brush N°3 Unlimited L. These brushes allow you to apply more pressure because of the shape and form of the brush hair.


Related Tech Talks

How do you identify different nail types? Learn more in the ProNails gel guide.

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5 reasons why you should choose for electrical filing. Discover the Vision Pro 700.