Pros, Cons & Side Effects of Gel X Nails – Who Should Avoid Them?

Pros, Cons & Side Effects of Gel X Nails: Gel X nail extensions have become increasingly popular over the last few years. The durable gel polish is applied over a nail tip and sealed under UV or LED light. Gel X offers lengthy wear with a glossy, chip-free finish. But like any nail service, Gel X has its advantages and disadvantages.

That’s why, in this article, I’m going to share with you the pros, cons, and potential side effects of Gel X nails to help you decide if they’re right for you.

But first, what are Gel X nails and can they damage your nails?

What are Gel X nails?

What are Gel X nails

Gel X is a type of gel nail extension system. It involves adhering a pre-shaped plastic nail tip to the natural nail using a thick, durable gel polish. The gel is then cured under UV or LED light. Once fully cured, this creates a glossy artificial nail that lasts 3-4 weeks before needing filled.

Gel X gets its name from the extra-thick layer of gel used to bond the tip and overlay the natural nail. The gel is flexible when cured rather than hard and brittle. This gives Gel X extensions a comfortable, natural look and feel compared to acrylics. But the gel is quite strong and damage-resistant.

The nail tips used for Gel X are available in various shapes and sizes to fit each nail properly. The technician sizes and shapes the tip to blend it seamlessly with the natural nail edge. Once immersed in the gel base and top coat, the tips become nearly undetectable. This allows Gel X to look like a natural extension of the client’s own nails.

Pros, Cons & Side Effects of Gel X

Long-lasting wear (3-4 weeks)High cost for initial and fill appointments
Damage and dent resistantCan weaken natural nails over time
Glossy, chip-free finishTime consuming application and fill process
Thin yet strong extensionsDifficult and damaging DIY removal
Low maintenance between fillsCan harbor bacteria in natural nail-gel gap
Potential for allergic reactions

Pros of Gel X Nails

Long-Lasting Wear

The biggest pro of Gel X is its longevity. The thick gel formula is designed to last 3-4 weeks on natural nails. And it can go even longer over acrylics or other enhancement systems. The gel is flexible rather than brittle. This prevents cracks, chips, and breaks in the polish.


Gel X is highly damage-resistant compared to other polish options. The cured gel is difficult to crack or peel. It resists dents and dings from everyday wear. Gel X also protects the natural nail underneath while installed. This makes nails less prone to breaks.

High-Gloss Finish

Gel X has an ultra-glossy finish that looks freshly manicured for weeks. The glass-like shine is very eye-catching. And it resists fading or yellowing over time like traditional polish can. This allows the color to stay vibrant for the full wear.

Thin Yet Strong

Gel X extensions are thin yet strong. They add length and structure while still feeling light and flexible on the nails. The thin gel consistency allows for a natural look and comfortable wear.

Low Maintenance

With Gel X nails, upkeep is minimal. Wearers don’t have to worry about re-painting or touch-ups between fills. The gel remains pristine for 3-4 weeks at a time. Only occasional shaping and cuticle care is needed to keep nails looking their best.

Cons of Gel X Nails

Cons of Gel X Nails

High Cost

The initial application and fills for Gel X can be pricey compared to a regular manicure. A full set may cost $50-80 plus $30-50 for 2-3 week fill appointments. The frequent fills also add up in cost over time. So Gel X is one of the more expensive nail extension options.

Can Weaken Natural Nails

Like other enhancement systems, Gel X puts added stress on the natural nail. The thick gel and false nail tip adhere tightly to the nail plate. After several fills, this can cause nail thinning, peeling, or cracking. Removing Gel X after long-term wear may also take a layer of natural nail off.

Time Consuming Application

It takes skill and precision to apply Gel X properly. The initial full set application can take well over an hour. Subsequent fill appointments still require 30-45 minutes. This is not ideal for those wanting a quick nail appointment. The lengthy process is necessary though for a long-lasting, damage-free result.

Difficult DIY Removal

Gel X should only be removed by a professional. Picking or peeling off the hardened gel can severely damage the natural nails underneath. Acetone won’t break down the gel either. Improper removal risks nail plate separation or layers of natural nail being ripped off.

Can Harbor Bacteria

Like acrylics, the gap between the Gel X tip and natural nail can trap moisture and breed bacteria. If technicians don’t properly prep or the wearer doesn’t keep nails clean, infection can occur. Signs include redness, swelling, and discharge around the nail bed.

Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Some people may be allergic or sensitive to UV gel. Reactions like itching, burning, and rashes around the nail cuticle are possible. Cured gel can also cause acrylic allergy symptoms in those sensitive. An allergy test is smart before trying Gel X.

Side Effects of Gel X Nails

Side Effects of Gel X Nails

Nail Thinning

Over time, the repeated adhesion process can cause nails to thin out. Trauma to the nail plate also increases the risk of cracking and peeling. Weakened nails are more prone to splitting and breaking.

Dry, Brittle Nails

The thick gel layer adheres so tightly it can block hydration and oils from reaching the natural nail. This can cause dryness, brittleness, and peeling. Cuticle care is very important with Gel X to keep nails conditioned.

Lifting or Peeling

When adhesion fails, Gel X can start to lift or peel off the nail. Lifting often starts at the tip or sides. Bacteria and moisture become trapped under lifted gel. And nails underneath are unprotected and prone to breakage.

Discolored Nails

If technicians don’t properly prep or remove Gel X, a grayish shadow or staining can remain on the nails. Pigment in the gel can also migrate into discolored or damaged nail beds over time. This is purely cosmetic but hard to get rid of.

Irritated or Damaged Cuticles

Improper application or removal technique can cause red, irritated, or burnt skin around the cuticles. Cuticle damage increases the risk of infection. And it can leave nails looking unsightly.

Weakened or Brittle Nails After Removal

The trauma from Gel X removal combined with hidden moisture damage can leave nails very weak. Sudden loss of the gel layer also leaves nails vulnerable until they recover strength.

Who Should Avoid Gel X?

  • Those prone to fungal infections – The gap between gel and nail can harbor fungus.
  • People with very thin or weak nails – Gel X may cause excessive thinning or breaks.
  • Clients with oily nail beds – Gel may not adhere properly.
  • Nurses or surgeons – Gel X is tough to keep germ-free under gloves.
  • Individuals with dexterity issues – Inability to clean under Gel X raises infection risk.
  • Those with acrylic or gel allergies – Cross-reactivity is possible.
  • Clients wanting short-term wear – Frequent fills make it pricey for temporary color.
  • DIYers – Improper application and removal damages nails.


Do Gel X nails damage your real nails?

Gel X can potentially cause nail thinning, peeling, and breakage if not applied and removed properly. Proper prep and removal techniques reduce the risk of damage.

How long do Gel X nails last?

With fills every 2-3 weeks, Gel X nails can last 3-4 months or longer on natural nails. On acrylics or other enhancements they may last 4-6 weeks between fills.

What’s the difference between Gel X and acrylic nails?

Gel X uses a thick gel to adhere nail tips while acrylics use a powder and liquid polymer. Gel X is more flexible while acrylics are harder. Gel X is also thinner and lighter.

Can you get Gel X nails removed at any salon?

Gel X should only be removed by a trained professional. Improper removal risks ripping off layers of natural nail. Most salons can safely remove them.

Do Gel X nails look natural?

When applied properly with well-fitted tips, Gel X can look like a natural extension of your own nails. The thin gel layer and variety of tip shapes allow for a natural look.

How long does a Gel X manicure take?

A full set may take 1-2 hours. Fills take 30-45 minutes. The process is more time consuming than regular polish but provides longer wear.


Gel X offers weeks of glossy, damage-resistant wear. But the system poses some risks for natural nail health that are worth considering. Proper application and removal are musts. And folks prone to infections or with very thin or oily nails should avoid Gel X. For those able to care for their manicures properly, Gel X can be a great option for lengthy wear with no chips or smudges. Just be aware of the potential cons before trying this gel nail system.

Check out the nail blog at Villa Nails for more tips on keeping your manicure healthy and fabulous!​

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