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Why is Gel Polish Not Curing – Reasons & Solutions!

Last Updated on April 2, 2022 by SulaBeauty Staff

When you go to a salon to get a gel manicure, the process is pretty straightforward. Your nails are cleaned and primed, then the gel polish is applied in thin layers and cured under a UV or LED light. But what happens if your gel polish doesn’t seem to be curing properly?

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the possible reasons why this might be happening, as well as some solutions that can help you get your gel manicure back on track.

Gel nails are a trendy manicure since they are substantially stronger than ordinary nail polish and last much longer. It is, nonetheless, a very complex manicure, and it is simpler to make mistakes when doing it.

But there can be a few setbacks. Such as the gel polish hasn’t dried yet, and you’re irritated because it hasn’t dried after all this time.

It’s possible that the gel nail polish has run out. Or you’ve used a lot of gel polish. Alternatively, you may not have put a base coat or topcoat beneath or on top of the gel polish.

Henceforth, the gel manicure is inconsistent and doesn’t dry properly. Maybe you didn’t wipe gel nails and the topcoat is not off. Alternatively, the UV lamp may be broken and leave back the uncured gel polish.

You might be aware of the issue with your gel polishes. But first, let’s take a closer look at how to cure your gel polish.

Why is Gel Polish Not Curing- Reasons & Solutions!

How to tell If Gel nails are Cured Or Not?

It’s a good idea to take a break before getting too worked up about your manicure. You’ll need to know whether or not your gel polish is truly uncured.

If you don’t get this, all of your efforts for your nails will go in vain. Two factors are included to help you decide whether the gel polish is cured or not. You’ll be able to get your quick answers if you consider these.

See If It’s Cured

There are a few obvious indicators that your gel polish isn’t drying properly, but one of the most important is the gel polish catching air bubbles.

The bubbling will seem like small openings in the nail polish, and these are regions where the gel polish has failed to cling to the nail properly.

However, if it appears glossy and clean, it has been completely dried.

Most of the time, you’ll see air trapped. If the gel polish isn’t cured, the surface will be inconsistent. So keep an eye out for these indications to see if it’s treated or not.

Touch to Know If It’s Cured

Sometimes, you can be not sure if the nail polish is cured just by looking. Here is a suggestion to find it out in those situations.

You can try touching the nail polish gently to know if it is fully cured. Appearances can be misleading and can give you a wrong observation. You would not want to jeopardize the look of your nails based on a wrong observation.

If you see a sticky layer or sticky residue come off with your fingertips as you touch them, your gel polish is not cured.

You’ll observe that the gel nail isn’t flaking off every now and then. But if you touch them, your fingerprint will appear on the gel nail polish. That’s still another clue that the gel nails haven’t been properly dried.

Why is My Gel Polish Not Curing And How to Cure It?

There are indeed a lot of possible reasons why your gel polish isn’t set, and because everyone’s manicure is distinct, it’s difficult to know which particular one is the problem.

Most of the cases, though, have to do with the application method instead of the gel nail polish product. The following are eight reasons why your gel polish isn’t curing and solutions to save your manicure.

Gel Polish Got Expired

We almost never look at the gel polishes’ expiration date. However, noticing the expiration before putting gel polishes is among the required tasks.

If you use outdated gel polish by mistake, it will not cure. Because the gel polish’s formula hardens on its own over time. So, if you use gel polishes that are very old or expired, the coating will remain undone.

You’ll only have one choice now that the expiration date has passed. That’s how you get rid of the gel paint. Use a nail polish remover immediately. Then, to keep your nails hydrated, apply some nail cream. The nail cream will help to reduce the adverse effects of the outdated gel polish.

Base Or Topcoat Not Applied

Always ensure to use a base coat and a topcoat for your manicure. If you neglect to apply any of these layers, your gel nail polish will not cure.

When applied straight to the nails, gel polish can give an odd appearance. The gel polish will not be uniformly distributed if you don’t use a base coat. This way some sections of the nail will stay thick while others will become thin. As a result, the curing time for both will be different.

Always keep the stacking order in mind when putting gel polish. It’s possible that you overlooked the base coat. If this is the fact, the nail polish must be removed. And then begin all over.

Too Thick Coat

To guarantee that gel polishes cured properly, they had to be put in precise coats. The topcoats absorb UV light just before the bottom layer, which might be deceiving if the top surface cures properly.

Using thinner applications will assure that it is successfully treated, as well as offer you a nicer manicure and ensure that all of the toxins that must be given have been removed.

Sweep the paintbrush on the bottle’s neck prior to spreading it onto the nail for creating thinner layers. When there’s less product on the brush, there’s less product on the nail, which is wonderful, particularly for lighter shades.

If you’ve put many layers, simply use your nail file out. Rub it on nails for coats to begin to peel away eventually.

Read How to Thin Out Nail Polish 

Top Coat Not Wiped

It’s crucial to swab the topcoat off when applying gel nail paint. Perhaps you didn’t clean the topcoat after removing your hands from the UV lamp. Because the top layer over gel polish turns sticky as it dries.

As a result, after every layer, the chunkiness must be removed. A non-acetone solution should be used to remove the topcoat. 

Any kind of gel nail cleaner alternative would suffice. But don’t use any acetone-based solutions on it. Because it will just remove the entire coat of nail paint. So you’ll need to discover an alternative to acetone.

Put the Gel Polish for Inadequate Time

This is the most frequent problem made by gel polish wearers. It’s critical to know how long the gel polish will take to cure. And you may have been stressed as a result of not dwelling on that.

Everything you must do is await. The gel nail paint will dry by itself within a few hours. Typically, 30-35 seconds per hand is the ideal drying time.

However, it is very dependent on the number of layers you’ve put. In addition, the length of your nails has a significant effect on the curing process.

Read: Does Gel Nail Polish Air Dry?

 UV Lamp Not Working

A common myth about UV and LED lights, particularly for personal use in the household, is that the bulbs do not have to be changed; however, this is incorrect.

This varies depending on the lamp’s company and model, but every bulb will include some guidelines to help you get more precise durations.

It’s crucial, however, to develop a habit of inspecting your bulbs and keeping track of how old the lights are. This is a great method and safer use for yourself, but it also maintains the exacting quality of the outcomes.

You Are Using The Wrong Lamp

Each gel polish must be treated by the appropriate lamp- a UV gel polish cannot be curable by an LED lamp, and vice versa.

Another important point to remember about gel polishes and lamps is that, in most cases, each company will have its own lamp, and gel polishes may not interact with other lamps.

You should be alert if you plan to buy a different label of polish than what you originally received or if you chose to purchase the lamp apart from the polishes.

It is preferable to get a lamp that is suitable for the gel polishes you intend to purchase; else, your manicure will not cure correctly.

Curing Time Is Too Short

The curing times of gel nail polishes vary. Over-curing gel polish can cause various consequences on the manicure, such as discoloration, and loss of brightness, and in some situations, you might not have been able to notice a sign right away, but the latter consequences will turn up.

The gel nail will lack its resilience if it is over-cured; it will crack or flake much faster than planned.


Why is my gel polish sticky after curing?

Since you need to eliminate the sticky coating of a non-acetone solution after curing, your gel polish is tacky.

This coating is present for most gel manicures; it does not indicate that your manicure has not fully cured; rather, it is created by the atmospheric oxygen preventing the gel’s upper surface from fully drying.

This coating is natural, but it must be removed if you would like your fingernails to look their finest and last as long as it takes.

Clean each nail with a lint-free cloth soaked in acetone-free liquid.

How long does gel polish need to cure?

UV gel polishes must be dried for around 3 minutes and LED gel polishes for about 30 seconds typically. Although, this varies by manufacturer, so double-check before using.

Try to keep to what your gels’ manufacturer recommends; going over the recommended period will result in over-curing your manicure.


There can be other factors why gel polish does not cure, however, these are the most common and overlooked reasons.

Before using gels, double-check the guidelines and suggestions, and as we all know that overexposing the lights isn’t a good idea.

It’s also vital to keep your nails in top condition. With a dilemma like this, it’s necessary to experiment with new ways and make changes to your typical system to see what actually works for you and produces the best outcomes.

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