Gel Polish Not Curing? Know the Reasons and Solutions

Who doesn’t love well designed and polished nails? Those beautiful, shining and glittery pieces of art have your whole heart. Every now and then you love trying some unique style to refresh your nail beauty. The vastness of nail fashion is just unimaginable, you may want to experiment with every uniqueness they offer you. Not just nail arts but nail care is also needed beside these.

In the race of nail arts, gel polish is constantly winning over every lady’s heart and why should it not, it is one of the best nail polishes to provide you with a scintillating look. But with gel polishes, there is this one thing that might irritate you, gel polish not curing. Well, before I get a gel polish it is necessary to understand the basics of a gel manicure. Not to worry because, in this article, we will address all those issues and suggest solutions that will prove to be your ultimate answer to every query.

Why Gel Polish Not Curing?

Gel polish application is a complex process and requires the utmost attention of the manicurist. In addition to this it demands your patience because this isn’t a 5 minutes job, the detailing is mandatory to be followed or else you will end up in an unsatisfied manicure.

Polymerization in Gel Polishes: Polymerization is a process that causes liquid monomers to transform into a solid hard polymer with the help of some energy such as heat energy. In the case of gel polishes, UV light acts as the energy source and the gel polishes undergo the process of polymerization.

There are a number of reasons why your gel polish isn’t curing. Most of them are the result of some wrong things done during the manicure. Moreover, it is very difficult to identify the exact reason. Below are given some of the top reasons for gel polish not curing with their solutions, scroll down to grab every information:

Also Read: Expert Hacks to Fix Bubbles in Nail Polish [With Common Reasons & Tips]

Gel Polish Not Curing
Source: Pinterest

1. The Gel Layers Are Too Thick:

  • This being the topmost reason for your gel polish not curing and is making you lose your patience.
  • When the gel layers are too thick and you use the UV or LED lamp to cure them, the light does not penetrate to the inner layers. Only the topmost layer is hardened and gives the misconception that the gel polish is cured.
  • In most of the cases, this situation arises while using light colored polish. Because then you cannot understand how much polish you have applied.


  • Always make sure to apply thinner layers to ensure that UV rays help in the complete curing process.
  • While using a light color, wipe the brush on the neck of the bottle to remove the excess polish. This is a great tip to follow and avoid the situation you hate.

2. The Nails Aren’t Prepared Properly

  • Well, this is the most ignored step by most of the people. The process of applying nail polish carries three important steps.
  • Applying the base coat, then the gel polish and afterwards the top coat. All these steps need their recommended time to be cured after their application before moving on to the next step.
  • If you are in a hurry and avoid this step, your nails will appear messy and unfinished.


  • Make sure that you give each layer its required time to be cured properly and then only move to the next step. Never be in a haste.
  • When applying gel polishes, after the application of the top coat, a non- acetone or alcohol is wiped on the nails to complete the process.
  • This process is necessary to be followed as it seals the nail polish and cures it completely.

3. The Use of Wrong Lamp:

  • This issue needs your complete attention because this is something many people are unaware of.
  • Every gel polish is cured with its specific light only. For example, if you have applied a UV gel polish and you are curing it with LED light it won’t cure. A UV gel polish needs a UV lamp and the same is with the LED gel polish.
  • Also there are many brands that cure only certain gel polishes and not the others.


  • Before buying any lamp, make sure about the type of gel polish you are using.
  • Make sure to purchase the gel polish which is compatible to be cured by a specific lamp or not.

4. Base Coat or Top Coat Not Applied

  • This may seem like an unimportant step but it forms the basis of the manicure.
  • If you neglect this step, your gel polish won’t give a finished and satisfied look. It will not be cured.
  • If you apply the gel polish directly to your nails, without the base coat, it will appear tacky and odd.
  • Similarly, a top coat is essential for sealing the nail polish and providing the desired look.


  • Always remember to use the base and top coat to get your desired look.
  • If by mistake you forget any step, it is better to start the process again to avoid the consequences.

5. Curing Time is Too Short:

  • Curing time is also a very important point to keep in mind. All the gel polishes have varying curing times.
  • Sometimes over-curing results in some consequences like loss of brightness, discoloration or it will crack and flake faster than you may think.


  • Curing time is really important to look at while you are applying gel polishes.
  • Cut the polishes as per required or else it will lead to overcurving or under curing.

Also Read: How to Make Nail Glue at Home (DIY Nail Glue the Right Way)

How to Tell if Gel Nails Are Cured?

See if Its Cured:

  • There are several indicators with the help of those you can identify whether or not the gel nails are cured.
  • If you see air bubbles trapped on the surface of your nails, then it is clear that the gel polish has failed to stick on the nails properly.
  • If you sign, it is clear that the polish has not cured and the surface will appear inconsistent.

Touch to Know if Its Cured:

  • Sometimes observations can be misleading and it is better not to fall for them.
  • Touch the surface of the nails gently to know if the gel polish is cured or not. If some residue is stuck on your nails then it is evident that the polish can not be cured.
  • In some cases, when you touch, the fingerprint is imprinted on the nail polish which is also an indicator.
how to tell if gel nails are cured
Source: Pinterest

Over Curing of Gel Polish:

  • Well, if you think only not curing is the problem, you haven’t really heard about over curing.
  • This is one common side effect that comes along with gel polish manicures.
  • If the gel polish is excessively heated, it becomes more prone to breakage and it becomes brittle.
  • Sometimes, it cracks from the middle or even lifts out.
  • It is necessary for you to understand that if you are a beginner at this, never overheat. It will do no good and instead will make the whole manicure wasted.
  • Always give 30 seconds to every nail while using a LED lamp.

Sign to Identify Over Curing

  • If you see brittle nails, cracking or chipping, peeling or dryness. These symptoms indicate over curing of the gel polishes.
  • If you have such symptoms, it is always advised to remove it as quickly as possible to avoid any further damage.
  • Soak the nails in warm water to soften the hardness of the gel polished nails.

The Correct Way of Curing Gel Polish:

When applying gel polish, keep in mind some of the tips to ensure properly cured nails.

  • Always Apply Thinner Coat: The application of a thinner coat is necessary to ensure proper absorption of UV light in each layer of the nail polish. Thicker coats do not allow the UV light to penetrate through the nails and the gel polish remains uncured.
  • Changing of Bulbs or Lamps: UV lamps or bulbs need changing every 4-6 months depending upon how frequently you are using them. Sometimes due to a busy schedule, lamp or bulb changing cannot happen and this affects the curing process. Also, remember to keep the bulbs clean to ensure the right intensity of light passes through.
  • Use of a Correct Lamp: Well, there is no correct way to recognize which brand lamp cures which brand gel polish. Sometimes, a simple lamp can cure a branded gel polish and sometimes it becomes a problem. So, it can be only advised to check whether or not the lamp and gel polish are compatible.
  • Check for Under Curing: The best way to identify under-curing is to check if bubbles are appearing on the nail surface or not. This indicates that the gel polish does not adhere properly and may come off. Other situations may be a cloudy finish, soft surface, or areas where the color may disappear.
Correct Way of Curing Gel Polish
Source: Pinterest

Also Read: Purple Nails With Diamond: Say Hello to the Purple Manicure!


How long does it take to cure nails with UV-led light?

* With a UV lamp, it takes about 2 minutes to cure fully whereas with a LED light it takes only 3o seconds to cure.
* So, a LED light is much faster and better option to go.

Can gel polish dry on its own?

*No, gel polish won’t dry on its own.
* There are certain methods which you can use to dry it but then you need to give it natural air for a few hours, this process also does not ensure proper curing.

Why is my gel top coat sticky?

* This is the sign of a gel polish not cured.
* In such cases, the top coat remains sticky and may easily wear off.
* It is advised to cure it properly before stepping out.

Can you over-cure gel polish?

* Yes, sometimes due to lack of knowledge the gel polish gets over-cured.
* Over-curing should be avoided at all costs or else it will cause brittleness and cracking on the gel polish.

Leave a Comment