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Gelish Troubleshooting

  1. Question: Some of my clients are experiencing polish shrinkage around the cuticle. What is causing this and how do I fix it?

    Answer: This is a common problem that many nail techs experience. When your client still has some residual oil on their nail bed or in their cuticle, the polish shrinks away and does not adhere to the nail. To rectify this problem, make sure that you wipe the nail down with the Gelish Cleanser (Blue Liquid). Afterwards, you need to apply at least one coat of the Gelish pH Bond before applying the base coat. Many of your clients may have oily nail beds and the pH Bond balances the pH and removes the oil from the nail bed and the cuticle. If you are working on a client with an oily nail bed, do not hesitate to apply 2 (or even 3 if necessary) coats of the pH Bond to the nail to ensure there is no residual oil. Doing these essential steps will decrease the amount of oil on nail bed and, therefore, decrease the chances of polish shrinkage.

  2. Question: I have been following all of the application steps, but my clients’ polish has been bubbling shortly after curing. How can I prevent this from happening?

    Answer: 9 out of 10 times, the following step will remedy the issue of bubbling. You MUST apply very thin coats of polish. One of the main causes of bubbling is layers that are applied too thickly. The first coat of color polish should be streaky, with some transparency, while the second coat will even the color out. Very thin application is the key to preventing bubbling.

    Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure your are NOT SHAKING your Gelish products. For more important information on this see question # 7 below.

    PRO TIP: Nail techs, you need to resist the urge of making the first coat look perfect and opaque. The first coat should be streaky with some transparency. The second coat will smooth out the appearance. If desired, you can add a third, very light coat to create richer color and coverage.

  3. Question: I am experiencing issues with curing the product. Sometimes I need to leave my clients hand in the lamp for 10 minutes. Is the product defective?

    Answer: If you are using Gelish’s LED Curing Lamp - make SURE you removed the BLUE sticker / film on the reflective, slide out tray inside the Gelish LED lamp. This blue film peels of easily, in one piece, revealing a highly reflective surface area needed for proper curing. Discard blue film.

    Remember, Gelish’s formula was designed to quickly cure in their LED lamp, but it can be properly cured in UV lamps by closely following these guidelines:

    1. If using a UV Lamp, make sure that is has at least 36 watts. If it is less than 36 watts, you will need to upgrade.
    2. Next, it is essential to understand the make-up of UV lights. They are filled with gases that degrade over time. This is the natural course for UV bulbs, but the degradation increases with elevated temperatures. Even something simple like dust on the bulbs reflects heat back into the bulbs and accelerates the degradation. Every time you turn on your UV lamp, the bulbs are slowly becoming less powerful. To ensure that your clients’ nails are being properly cured every single time, you need to replace your bulbs every 2 months. If you wait any longer, curing times will drastically increase while the curing quality will drastically decrease.
    3. The key to applying Gelish and to it lasting is making sure you apply the polishes in the thinnest layers possible. For base coat, pull the brush from the bottle and wipe it off on the side of the bottle. What is on your brush is MORE THAN ENOUGH for all 5 fingers on 1 hand. Unload on each nail, then go back and apply base coat on each nail using a massaging motion. The nail typically looks shiny after regular base coat application, but after massaging the Gelish base coat into the nail, it should look like it has the same texture as the skin of an orange peel. After curing the base coat (don’t forget the dry wipe!), apply the first layer of color. This layer should be extremely thin and streaky. The second coat of color will even out the color, and the top coat will pull the entire effect together.
  4. Question: My clients’ nails are not lasting for 21 days. Only a few days in, they are experiencing chipping, peeling, and breaking. What gives?

    Answer: There are several recommendations to prevent your clients’ nails from chipping, peeling, or breaking –

    1. Remember the old adage: “Treat your nails as jewels, NOT tools.” This is especially important for clients transitioning from acrylic nails to gel-polish nails. Natural nails with gel-polish on them will not withstand the same beating an acrylic name would.
    2. Follow all of the steps above regarding curing. The first step to ensure that the polish stays on your clients’ nails is to make sure that they are being cured properly.
    3. DO NOT perform a wet manicure before applying the Gelish. The worst thing for the natural nail is water. If the nail is waterlogged before the base coat is applied, it is perfectly natural for the nail to peel within days. Do a dry nail prep rather than a hand soaking, etc. If you must do a wet manicure, apply and cure the base coat first. Doing so will seal off the nail from absorbing any more moisture.
    4. Make sure to cap the free edge of the nail for EVERY coat of polish. We recommend unloading a tiny amount of polish on all 5 fingers on a hand, capping the edge, THEN spreading the polish across the nail bed, leaving a free margin around the cuticle and sidewalls. Capping the free edge first will prevent a bulb from forming at the edge of the nail.
    5. Keep a tiny free margin around the cuticle and sidewall areas.
    6. Just as skin needs to be moisturized, so do your clients nails and cuticles. Have them apply the Gelish Nourish Cuticle oil daily, so as to keep their nails flexible and strong.
    7. It is always a good practice to wear gloves when working with your hands, especially if you are working with any chemicals.
    8. Please also remember, clients who naturally have nails that tend to peel and break might need to have Gelish Structure applied to give the nail an extra layer of strength.
  5. Question: I think that there is something wrong with some of my Gelish polishes. The polish on the color window is lighter than it is supposed to be and it is flaky. What do I do?

    Answer: The flakiness that you are seeing is simply just a minute amount of product that cured on the glass. It is natural since that tiny amount of polish was exposed to light and it does not affect the Gelish polish in any way. To provide an accurate view of the colors, we recommend that you use Nail Color Palettes so that your clients can see each color in all its glory.
  6. Question: Do I need to shake it a lot like Shellac? If I don’t shake it, won’t it become thick?

    Answer: No! Never, ever shake your Gelish product. Other products are formulated with multiple solutes that separate easily and need to be recombined by vigorously shaking, before and during application to each hand. If the solutes are not recombined well enough, the results can be disastrous. This is not the case with Gelish! The polish is good to go the moment you open the bottle. In fact, shaking can be detrimental and cause the product to become filled with bubbles.

    PRO TIP: Think of Gelish as Jell-O. Would you never shake Jell-O? Never... shaking would ruin it. Same with Gelish! Just open and enjoy!

  7. Question: Will Gelish cause white spots on the nail like other brands?

    Answer: No! One of the best features about Gelish is that it will protect the natural nail. Other brands are formulated with lacquer, which by its nature, removes the moisture and nutrients from what it is applied to. When lacquer is applied to the natural nail, it can cause white-spotting on the nail and the nail itself can become brittle and cracked. Gelish IS NOT formulated with lacquer, but is, instead, a pigmented gel. Gel, by its nature, merely sits on top of the nail and essentially protects the nail. It is still strongly recommended that your clients use Nourish cuticle oil daily. Nourish Cuticle Oil contains 6 very rich, fatty oils blended with Collagen, Vitamin A & Aloe to infuse moisture into nails; creating flexibility and strength.


Professional Application Tips & Tricks:



  • Use the Gelish Cleanser. It has been specifically formulated to work with the Gelish polishes.
  • When removing the shine from the nail, bring the buffer up and down the nail, lengthwise, in a vertical motion. If you buff the nail from side to side, it is easy to miss the tips and edges. Removing the shine from the nail plate ensures better adhering of the base coat.
  • DO NOT soak nails or have the nails exposed to water for any amount of time before the application and curing of the base coat.
  • Do not over-cure the base coat. Leave it in the lamp for only the allotted time – 10 Seconds in the LED Lamp or 1 Minute in a 36 Watt UV Lamp. Over-curing can make the removal process significantly more difficult.
  • Make sure that you do the dry cleaning of the nail after applying the Foundation Gel or the Structure Gel. It will ensure that the color coat better adheres to the product underneath it.
  • Apply the product in very, very thin layers. If desired, you can do 3 color coats, but make sure each coat is extremely thin.
  • ALWAYS cap the free edge, even with the base coat. This can mean the difference between a 5 day manicure and a 14 day manicure.

Professional Removal Tips & Tricks:

  • Buff the top coat with a 180 grit file in a vertical method so as to break the seal. This will allow the Soak-Off Gel Remover to penetrate down to the color coats and the base coat.
  • Buff the Top Coat on the free edges so that the liquid can easier penetrate there as well.
  • Use a 100 file and make a lower-case ‘t’ on the nail. This will help the remover get underneath the polish.
  • Be prepared AND save product. Cut up cotton rounds into small squares the size of a nail. Place these in a dappen dish and pour gel remover over the cotton until it is thoroughly saturated. By doing this, the cotton is immediately ready, and you will not use anywhere near as much Gel Remover over time.
  • It is important to never use colored foil. The color will stain your client’s fingers!
  • Place the cotton on the nail and fold the end over the nail tip. Once again, this will help the product penetrate more easily.
  • When wrapping the nail with tin foil, make sure that the dull side is facing into the nail, and that the shiny side is on the outside. After the nail has been wrapped, press down and apply pressure so that the remover gets spread across the nail and to ensure that the cotton is in contact with the nail.
  • Heat is a catalyst for Acetone and causes it to work more efficiently than if it were at a more regular temperature. Since the Soak-Off Gel Remover is formulated with acetone, warming the hands and fingers of your clients during Soak-Off will speed up the process. After applying the cotton and tin foil, thoroughly wrap your clients’ hands in wet, hot towels. The experience will be enjoyable for them and will decrease the soak-off time.
  • To remove any residual Gelish, use an orangewood stick to gently scrape the nail. Do not use metal or hard plastic. Improper scraping may cause damage to the top layer of natural nail, thus making the nails more prone to dehydration.

Client Long-Term Satisfaction Tips & Tricks:

  • Clients should be using Nourish Cuticle Oil daily and repeatedly. This will help moisturize their natural nails and keep their flexible nature. It will also help maintain the flexible feeling of Gelish.
  • When applying Nourish Cuticle Oil, apply it to the top of the nail, plus underneath the free edge. After applying, massage the oil into the nail and cuticle. Advise your clients to do the same.
  • Minimize exposure of acetone by wrapping the nails in cotton and aluminum foil. Soaking the nails and fingertips in a bowl of Soak-Off Gel Remover causes excessive exposure to acetone and waste of product – there is no need to use that much Soak-Off Remover for each removal process.
  • If your clients’ natural nails are overly dry, try a warm Nourish Cuticle Oil soak. Use an oil warmer or place small bowl of Nourish Cuticle Oil in a larger bowl of warm water. Put just enough Nourish oil to cover the tips of the fingers. Soak for 5 min after application of Gelish.
  • Immediately after Gelish removal, wash the client’s hand with plenty of water using mild soap. Strong soap or detergents are also sources of dehydration.