Whether you’ve heard of Gel-X or not, you’ve likely seen the innovative nails on some of your favorite celebs without even noticing. For one, every single nail look on the cult-fave show Euphoria was crafted using Aprés Nail’s Gel-X Nail Extension System, and they are frequently worn on red carpets, magazine covers, and beyond on A-listers like Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Ariana Grande (on her wedding day, no less), Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Katy Perry, Hailee Steinfeld, Adele — need I go on?
I first learned about the impossibly chic brand, Aprés Nail, in the heart of 2020. Since I couldn’t get to my local salon (like so many other nail aficionados), I was desperate to get creative and level up my at-home nail game, beyond just an extensive collection of polish shades. After ordering some dip powders (and completely failing at applying them), my last ditch effort was with gel extensions à la Aprés — and though there was a slight learning curve, I found that salon-worthy nails were surprisingly pretty easy to achieve on my own. What’s more, it seemed wild that I had access to such professional materials as someone who didn’t have anything close to a nail technician’s license.
What Are Gel-X Nails?
Eunice Park, an Aprés pro artist, shared with me that the brand was initially created by nail technicians for nail technicians. The primary goal? To fully support artists in their craft, making a system that’s easier to master than hard gel or acrylics, produces less lung-damaging dust, no odor, quicker appointments, and allows for flawless nails each and every time.
In creating a product that does just that, the brand opened the doors for at-home users to master the system as well, allowing anyone to access their own kit without a professional paywall. And today, those at-home users have outpaced the pros, becoming the brand’s top clientele.
The Gel-X Nail Extension Kit
First things first, you pick your nail length and nail shape (I’m a fan of the medium-length natural coffin soft gels). Prep your nails before applying the pH Bonder and the Gel Primer, then, a tiny bit of Extend Gel on the nail, curing under an LED lamp for 30 seconds to make it tacky. File the underside of the soft gel, adding a touch more Extend Gel on it before pressing the tip onto your natural nail. Cure once more — et voilà. You have the perfect nail extension base to either apply a simple clear coat, nail art, pressed flowers, gel color, and beyond.
As for application tips for those at-home users, like myself? Park says, “practice makes progress.” She notes that many first-time users use way too much Extend Gel, and experience a “heat spike” when curing their nails in the LED light. While it’s normal to feel a bit of heat on your nail beds as the base layer dries (especially if you have sensitive, thin, or damaged nails), ease up on the product for a more comfortable application. And if you’re a fan of this year’s trending nails — Y2K-inspired French manicures — Aprés now offers soft gels with French “smile lines” already drawn out for you, making it easier than ever to play with classic or colorful tips.
Whether you’re a practicing pro or prefer to save some cash and paint your own dream mani, it’s safe to say you may want to press *add to cart.*