Top Nail Saving Tips For When Your Gels Grow Out

There’s nothing more annoying than when your gel manicure begins to chip or grow out, especially when you can’t get to the salon to get it removed or touched up. 

If you frequently get gel manicures, you’ll know how long to expect them to last on your nails before they need removing or retouching. But is there an effective way to patch up your nails without visiting a nail technician? And can gel polish be touched up at home?

Read on for all our top tips on dealing with your gel nails growing out. From quick retouching hacks to negative space manicures, we’ve packaged everything you need to know ahead of when your natural nails regrow!

How much do my nails grow in a week?

Your nails usually grow from 0.7 to 1 millimetre (mm) per week or around 3.47mm per month. The rate of nail growth slightly differs from person to person and is affected by many factors such as age, hormone levels and overall health.

In the first week of a gel manicure, you probably won’t notice much of a gap between your nail bed and the bottom of your gels, as your nail growth will be minimal (in some cases, less than a millimetre). By week two, however, it may be time to get your manicure touched up. 

What shall I do when my gel nails grow out?

When your gel manicure starts to grow out, it can be really frustrating when you can’t visit the nail salon.

However, there are some quick steps that you can take at home to prolong your manicure until you can make an appointment. Here are our top 5 tips on how to fill in grown-out gel nails.

1 Negative space manicure 

Nude gel nails with pastel tips

A negative space manicure is a great choice if you have a busy schedule and can’t always get to the nail salon, if you have a long holiday planned or if you’re someone that prefers a low-maintenance look for your nails.

Negative space manicures incorporate your natural nail into the design of your manicure, so when your gel regrowth gap starts to form, it just looks like part of the design. 

This style works well with a classic French gel manicure, where a neutral or transparent gel colour is used for most of the design. When your natural nails begin to grow, your regrowth gap will be hardly noticeable.

Similarly, ombre nails featuring lots of colour at the tip and fade down to nudes and neutrals at the base are another great style for minimising the visibility of a growth gap. 

If most of the design of your gel manicure is done at the tip of your nail, negative space manicures can prolong your manicure, making it last around a month – perfect for those busy times when you can’t visit a nail technician.

Remember to be adventurous with your designs; whether you choose stripes, glitter, ombre or diagonal blocks of colour, these designs can look great with a little nude nail at the base. 

2 Fill the gap with regular nail polish 

A growth gap can be harder to hide if you’re a gel colour lover. If you can’t get to the salon for a professional refill, a little pop of regular nail polish can hide any obvious and unsightly growth gaps.

For block colours, pair your regular polish with your manicured gel polish colour and simply fill the gap. With patterned nails, you can either extend the pattern onto your natural nail with a collection of regular polishes or choose the most prominent colour from the design and fill the gap with that.

Or, for a bolder look, why not fill your growth gap with a contrasting colour to create a statement design? 

3 Use glitter polish 

A gel manicure with glitter at the nail bed

Glitter nail polish is extremely adhesive and easy to apply, making for a great regrowth filler. Filling a regrowth gap with regular polish can make lumps and bumps more visible. Still, with glitter polish’s chunky, uneven application, all lines are easily hidden, giving your gel manicure a fresh new take.

Shape and tidy your nails with a nail file to freshen them up, apply a fine line of glitter just about the cuticle to create a reverse French manicure effect, or bring the glitter higher up your nails for a stunning reverse ombre look.

To work best, choose a chunky glitter polish such as Zoya’s Pixie Dust or Nails Inc’s Caught In The Nude and get ready to sparkle with your nails’ fresh new look.

4 Book a gel refill with a nail technician 

A nail technician applying gel to a customer's nails

Although nail hacks are useful and can help prolong the life of your manicure, the most effective option for covering up your gel regrowth is to book an appointment for a gel refill, particularly if you’re wearing more traditional, hard gels.  

With a gel refill, your nail technician can match, blend and cure your gels, reshape your nails to remove any nicks and chips and prolong the life of your manicure for a few more weeks. Professional refills also blend away any regrowth lines for that freshly manicured finish. 

Can you touch up gel nails?

If you’ve just gotten a gel manicure and you’ve already managed to chip one of your nails, making multiple trips to the salon can be costly. However, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to repair the damaged area at home:

  • Before filling in your chipped polish, use a nail buffer to gently buff the entire nail. This breaks the seal on the top coat and will allow your new polish to adhere better to the old application.
  • Next, use a nail file to level off the chip’s edges to create a more even base for the new polish to be applied.
  • Apply a base coat to the chipped area just as you would if preparing your full nail for a gel manicure. This will enhance the adhesion and make the new polish longer-lasting. Ensure the area has dried fully before moving on to the next step.
  • Once your base coat is dry, apply your gel polish in fine layers, making sure each layer is fully dry before applying the next to prevent air bubbles from forming. If you have a UV or LED lamp at home, use it to cure each layer, just as your technician would in the salon.
Gel colour being set with a UV lamp
  • If there are still visible lines between the old and new polish coats after some application, apply a coat of gel polish to the full nail to give a more seamless finish.
  • Seal the entire nail by applying a top coat from the base to the tip, curing again under the lamp to protect the polish and add some shine back to the nail.

Can I fix my nails when my gel is growing out: The highlights

Although nothing will ever replace the quality that a professional nail technician can achieve in the salon from a gel refill or touch-up, some things can help prolong the life of your gel manicure until you can get there. 

By adding regular nail polish to your regrowth gap, experimenting with glitter polish or opting for a negative space manicure, you can prolong the life of your gel manicure and create exciting and creative looks for your nails. 

If you chip a gel nail early into the life of your manicure, you can temporarily repair this at home to save you an early trip to the nail salon. 

However, once your gel manicure is ready for removal, always resist the urge to peel your gels away from your natural nails to protect them from damage and always have your gel manicure removed by a professional to keep your natural nails healthy and at their best.

Shop gel starter kits for all the tools to create stunning gel looks

Explore our full range of gel starter kits at Nail Polish Direct to give you all the essential tools needed to create beautiful gel manicures in the salon or from the comfort of your own home. Perfect for repairing and touching up your gel nails, you’ll find everything you need, from application to curing and removal. 

Related articles: 

What Is The Best Type Of Nail Polish For Healthy Nails?

5 Top Tips To Make Nail Polish Last Longer

How To Remove Gel Polish At Home

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