Can You Fill Gel Nails?

by  Mila M.Cosmetologist

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Are you a fan of gel nails but unsure of the refill process? Gel nails, unlike regular polish, come with an added layer of maintenance known as retouching or refills. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything needed to successfully fill your gel nail extensions at home or in the salon.

Stay tuned if you want to learn how to maintain that flawless manicure for longer!

  • Gel nail extensions are applied to natural nails using gel polish and cured under a UV lamp.
  • Filling is necessary to maintain gel nails, as it fills in gaps or regrowth that occurs over time.
  • Regular filling every two to three weeks prevents breakage and keeps gel nails looking flawless.
  • To fill gel nails at home, you will need an electric nail file, UV or LED lamp, lint-free wipes, and gel polish.

What are Gel Nail Extensions?

Gel nail extensions are a type of artificial nails that are applied to your natural nails using a gel polish and cured under a UV lamp. They differ from acrylic nails in their application process and the materials used.

Application process

The process of applying gel nails begins with prepping your natural nails. This includes cleaning, buffing, and shaping each nail to create a smooth base for the gel. A primer is then applied to help the gel adhere properly.

Once the primer dries, a base layer of gel is brushed onto each nail and cured under a UV or LED lamp until hard. The color coat follows this step, also cured under the lamp after application.

Finally, the process concludes with a topcoat that adds shine and protects the color from chipping or fading. Following these steps carefully ensures long-lasting results – up to three weeks!

How they differ from acrylic nails

Gel nails and acrylic nails are both popular options for nail enhancements, but they have some key differences. One major difference is the material used. Acrylic nails are made from a powder and liquid mixture that hardens when exposed to air, while gel nails are made from a gel polish that is cured under a UV or LED lamp.

Another difference is the application process – acrylic nails require sculpting and shaping with a brush, while gel nails are applied like regular nail polish and then cured under the lamp.

Additionally, gel nails tend to have a more natural appearance and flexibility compared to acrylics. Overall, both types of enhancements have their own pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the option that best suits your needs and preferences.

Filling Gel Nails

Filling gel nails is a necessary step in maintaining their appearance and durability.

What is filling?

Filling is an essential part of maintaining gel nails. It involves removing the shine from the gel and applying a new layer of gel to fill in any gaps or regrowth that may have occurred since the initial application.

This helps to keep your nails looking fresh and prevents breakage or cracks. Filling is necessary because as your natural nails grow, there will be a noticeable gap between the cuticle and the gel polish.

By filling this gap, you can maintain the appearance of longer-lasting and beautiful gel nails.

When is filling necessary?

Regular nail refills are necessary to maintain the strength and integrity of gel nails. As your natural nails grow, a gap will form between the cuticle and the gel extension. This gap can weaken the nail and make it more prone to breakage or cracks.

To prevent this, filling is needed every two to three weeks to fill in any gaps or regrowth with fresh gel. By regularly filling your gel nails, you can keep them looking flawless and extend their lifespan without sacrificing nail health.

Tools needed

To fill gel nails at home, you will need a few essential tools. First, make sure to have an electric nail file or a hand file with different grits. This will help you remove the shine from the old gel and shape your nails for the refill.

You’ll also need a UV lamp or LED lamp to cure the new layer of gel once it’s applied. Additionally, gather some lint-free wipes or paper towels to clean and prep your nails before filling them.

Lastly, have a good quality gel polish in the color of your choice and a top coat for that perfect finishing touch. With these tools on hand, you can easily maintain your gel nails between salon visits and keep them looking beautiful and fresh.

Can I Fill Gel Nails If I Let Them Air Dry?

Yes, you can fill gel nails if you let them air dry. Drying gel nails naturally can take longer, but it is possible. Just make sure to apply a thin layer of gel and let it dry completely before adding another layer. This will ensure a smooth and even finish.

How to Do a Fill on Gel Nails

To do a fill on gel nails, start by preparing your tools – an electric nail file and a hand file.

Step by step instructions

To do a fill on gel nails, start by using a coarse file to gently file the surface of your nails. This will remove any shine and roughen up the gel so that the new layer can adhere properly.

Next, use an electric nail file or a hand file to carefully remove any excess gel from the cuticle area and along the edges of your nails. Be careful not to file too much, as this can weaken your natural nails.

Once you’ve removed the excess gel, apply a thin layer of base coat to your nails and cure it under a UV or LED lamp. Then, apply a thin layer of colored gel polish in your desired shade and cure it again under the lamp.

Choosing the right products

To ensure a successful gel nail fill, it’s important to choose the right products. Look for high-quality gel polishes that are specifically formulated for nail extensions and fills.

These polishes should be long-lasting, durable, and provide a smooth finish. Additionally, invest in a good UV or LED lamp to cure the gel quickly and efficiently. Don’t forget to have the necessary tools on hand such as electric or hand files for shaping and buffing the nails.

By choosing the right products, you’ll achieve professional-looking results and maintain your beautiful gel nails for longer periods of time.

Tips for Maintaining Gel Nails

To maintain your gel nails, always use a gentle acetone-free nail polish remover and avoid using harsh chemicals. Keep your nails hydrated by regularly applying cuticle oil and hand cream.

Use a non-acetone nail file for shaping and buffing to prevent damage. Avoid picking or peeling off the gel as it can weaken your natural nails. Lastly, protect your nails from excessive moisture or heat by wearing gloves while doing household chores or using hot styling tools.

Proper care and maintenance

To keep your gel nails looking their best, proper care and maintenance are essential. Start by avoiding activities that can damage your nails, such as using them as tools or biting them.

Remember to always wear gloves when doing household chores or working with harsh chemicals. Additionally, make sure to moisturize your hands and cuticles regularly to keep them hydrated and healthy.

Trim your nails regularly to prevent breakage and consider using a strengthening polish or treatment to promote nail health. Lastly, protect your gel manicure by wearing gloves when in the sun or during activities that could expose them to excessive heat or UV rays.

Avoiding damage

Taking proper care of your gel nails is essential to avoid any damage. First and foremost, do not pick or peel off the gel polish yourself, as this can cause harm to your natural nails.

Instead, always use the appropriate techniques and products for gel polish removal. Additionally, it’s important to refrain from using your nails as tools for opening cans or scratching surfaces, as this can lead to chips and cracks in the gel.

A helpful tip is to keep your nails well moisturized by applying cuticle oil regularly, as dryness can make them more prone to breakage. By following these simple precautions, you can ensure that your beautiful gel nails stay intact and last longer without any damage.

Is it Necessary to Use a Top Coat on Gel Nails After Filling Them?

After filling gel nails, putting top coat on gel nails is essential for sealing the polish and ensuring a longer-lasting manicure. The top coat provides a protective layer that helps prevent chipping, dulling, and peeling. It also adds shine and a smooth finish to the nails, giving them a polished look.


In conclusion, filling gel nails is an essential step in maintaining their longevity and appearance. Whether done at home or by a professional, the process involves removing old gel and applying fresh layers to fill in any gaps or regrowth.

By keeping up with regular fills, you can ensure that your gel nails stay strong and healthy for weeks on end. So go ahead and give it a try – you’ll be amazed at how great your filled gel nails look!


1. What does filling gel nails mean?

Filling gel nails means retouching your existing gel application to accommodate the growth of your natural nails and maintain a neat appearance.

2. Can I perform an infill on my own gel nails at home?

Yes, you can DIY an infill on your gel nails with the right products and steps in the Gel nail fill process, but professional help might be necessary for complicated designs or heavily damaged nails.

3. How often do I need to refill my hard shellac gel manicure?

The frequency of refills can vary based on individual nail growth rates, but typically, you might consider getting a Gel nail refill every two to three weeks as part of regular Gel nail maintenance.

4. Can I change my current Gel polish during the time of refilling?

During a refill appointment at most salons, technicians remove the top layer of color allowing for easy changes in colors or designs during reapplication within the same session if it fits into your desired look.

5. How do infills affect my original extended nails?

Refilling involves blending new hard-gel applications with your existing ones without completely removing them so that they match up seamlessly; this allows for comfortable continuation even with extended styles.

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Mila, the veteran beauty cosmetics professional and author of this article, while cutting and styling the hair of her client

Hi! I’m Mila M. I share my 44 year-experience as a Cosmetologist & Beauty Professional in this blog. This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Consult your trusted Beauty Professional for your personal beauty needs.

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