Can You Air Dry Gel Nail Polish? Learn All The Facts About The Gel Nail Trend

Key Takeaways
  • Gel nail polish offers long-lasting and durable color, lasting up to two weeks or more without chipping or fading.
  • The application process typically involves a base coat, the gel polish color of your choice, and a top coat, which must be cured under a UV or LED lamp to dry and harden the polish.
  • Gel nail polish is known for its high shine and glossy finish, making it a popular choice for those looking for a polished and professional appearance.
  • Proper removal is crucial, and it’s best done by a professional to avoid damaging the natural nails; DIY removal can weaken and thin the nails if not done correctly.

Gel nail polish is one of the most requested nail trends in the world. This awesome nail procedure is also one popular nail trend that can be easily achieved at home.

But, creating this beautiful nail look requires the aid of an LED or UV lamp. So what if you have everything you need to create the gel nail look, except for the UV or LED lamp?

Is it possible to achieve gorgeous gel nails without the help of a UV lamp? 

Can You Air Dry Gel Nail Polish? Learn All The Facts About The Gel Nail Trend

Let’s find out. 

This guide gives you all the facts about the gel nail polish trend.

Learn what materials and tools you need to create an awesome look in your own home.

More importantly, learn whether you can actually achieve stunning gel nails that don’t fall off, without a UV lamp to hand. 

Scroll down to get the answers to all your gel nail questions, so you can become a nail tech pro in the comfort of your own home.

Don’t forget to check out our conclusion for more helpful information, too.

Okay, without further ado, let’s delve in.

Before You Get Started 

  • Review the gel nail polish product’s label or instructions to determine if it’s designed for air drying.
  • The quality of the gel polish significantly affects its air-drying capabilities, so opt for a reputable brand.
  • Apply gel polish in thin, even layers to facilitate quicker and more effective air drying.
  • Be prepared to wait longer for each layer to dry compared to UV or LED curing methods.
  • Finish with a compatible gel topcoat for added protection and shine once the layers have sufficiently air-dried.

What Are Gel Nails? 

A gel nail manicure is a much-loved nail treatment that uses gel-based polish to create incredible and long-lasting nail polish.

The service needs a UV or LED lamp to harden (otherwise known as curing) the nails. By curing the nails under an LED or UV lamp, the gel polish is locked firmly in place.

The outcome is a perfect, chip-free, and shiny nail manicure that lasts for weeks. 

What Ingredients Are in Gel Nail Polish?

Gel nail polishes are formulated with acrylic monomers and oligomers. These substances combine when you place your nails under a UV or LED lamp.

The process is called ‘curing’ and is a necessary step for hardening and locking your polish in place.

These ingredients start off as a gel-like liquid and as they heat, they transform into an indestructible, chemical-resistant polish, that stays put for weeks.

Are Gel Nail Polishes Safe?

There are some studies that suggest the main risk of gel manicures is exposure to UV light, ultimately resulting in skin cancers, However, other research suggests the potential for this is extremely rare. 

The other potential harm comes from using products that include unsafe ingredients. Gel nails are formulated with the same basic ingredients as acrylic formulations.

However, there are some acrylic and gel polishes that contain harmful substances like formaldehyde.

Although this is a rare occurrence now, you should do your research and make sure your products are safe.

Gel Nail Polish: A Stunning Finish

  • Vibrant Colors: Gel nail polish offers an extensive range of vibrant colors for stylish nail aesthetics.
  • UV/LED Curing: Gel polish requires UV or LED curing to harden, providing a chip-resistant, long-lasting finish.
  • Professional or DIY: Get gel nails professionally done at a salon for perfection, or explore at-home options for convenience.
  • Increased Durability: Enjoy a durable, glossy finish that resists chipping and maintains shine.
  • Efficient Removal: Removing gel polish involves soaking in acetone; salon removal services or DIY kits are easily available. Proper removal is essential to preserve nail health.

What Are the Benefits of Gel Nail Manicures?

There’s no denying how awesome a gel nail polish manicure looks.

The finished look is more natural than the acrylic option, and they are also more flexible. You can actually use your hands (which can be a tad tricky with super long acrylic extensions). 

Having a bit of nail treatment luxury is the ultimate feel-good boost, and they stay chip-proof for weeks. Gel-based manicures are so much better than having a regular nail lacquer.

As most of us know, traditional nail polish may look great for, like, 10 minutes.

But doing the slightest thing (or seemingly doing nothing) still results in glancing down to see they are chipped.

It is so deflating to know you’ve spent ages preparing your nails, choosing your polish, applying, and then waiting for it to dry. Only to see it was all a total waste of time.

Hybrid gel nail polish variations on the market are a good choice for those without an LED lamp in the manicure tool kit.

However, these do not provide the same chip-proof or long-lasting results as the gel polishes, which require LED drying devices.

You could opt for press-on nails instead. Whilst they look beautiful, they only last for a day at most. Furthermore, you’d be lucky to still have all 10 still in place by the time you return home.

Also, not a great look, especially if you happen to be on your first date, which involves cooking the ultimate romantic cuisine for your potential love interest. Gasps!

Can You Air Dry Gel Nail Polish? Learn All The Facts About The Gel Nail Trend

Are Gel Nail Polish Manicures Worth it?

If you love the look of perfect nails, the gel mani is the perfect option.

Not only do they last for weeks without having to fix them, but they are more natural-looking and flexible too.

Keep in Mind

  • Curing Process: Understand that gel nail polish requires curing under a UV or LED lamp to set and harden.
  • Time Allocation: Allocate sufficient time for the curing process, as each layer typically takes about 30 seconds to 2 minutes to dry.
  • Thin Layers: Apply gel polish in thin, even layers to ensure thorough curing and efficient drying.
  • Patience: Be patient during the drying process, avoiding any movement or touching to prevent smudging or imperfections.
  • Proper Removal: Plan for proper gel polish removal when changing colors, ensuring a safe and damage-free transition.

Pros of Gel Nail Polish

1. Natural and flawlessly shiny result

2. Lasts for 3-4 weeks without needing any attention

3. More flexible than acrylic

4. Chip-proof

Cons of Gel Nail Polish

1. Need a UV or LED lamp to ‘cure’ 

2. Requires an acetone solution to remove

How To Create a Gel Nail Look at Home

Getting the gorgeous gel nail look at home is great fun and super-easy to achieve (so long as you have the right materials).

If you want to hop on the gel nail train, these are the items you must have:

1. Your gel nail polish – Make sure you do your research and buy a safe polish from a trusted brand. 

2. An LED or UV lamp – this is essential for curing gel-based polish. The process ensures your nails become hard and resistant for several weeks. 

3. Gel base coat and topcoat

4. Manicure set – Make sure you properly prep your nails before attempting to apply any nail polish technique. Skipping this step will surely result in bumpy, uneven, and sub-optimal-looking nails. Not a good look.

Pro Tip

For a flawless air-dry gel nail polish application, apply thin, even layers, allowing each coat to dry completely. Finish with a high-quality topcoat to seal and extend the polish’s longevity without UV or LED curing.

LED Vs. UV Lamps: Which One To Choose?

The next thing to consider is which drying system to choose.

LED lamps are the most popular choice by far. The main reason is that they will dry or ‘cure’ then nails in under a minute, as opposed to UV lamps that take approximately 8 minutes to dry.

Both LED and UV drying units are FDA-approved devices, due to the fact they emit a very small amount of UV radiation.

LED and UV nail drying devices are used in salons and sold online. Always check the labeling and read safety instructions before use.

Although exposure to ultraviolet radiation is minimal and unlikely to cause any harm, there are exceptions to the rule.

Those who are taking certain medications that may increase sensitivity to UV rays should remember to apply sunscreen.

Sun protection cream that contains high UV protection will protect the skin from potential sensitivity and damage.

How Do I Dry My Gel Nails Without Using a UV Light?

Using a light touch is the most straightforward approach for drying polish without UV light. Paint is only cured by air and by painting when used lightly.

As a result, you’ll save time by drying the item faster. This technique requires a thin layer of polish to be applied to the nails.

It should be noted that gel polish must be cured with a UV light. Gel manicures at home are prone to getting sticky because most people cannot access a UV lamp.

If you want to avoid UV rays, choose gel polish, which does not require UV light. Even if it feels hard, the top coat will not harden entirely for several hours.

Add a thin layer of gel nail polish to the bottom of your nail bed. Thin coatings of nail lacquer should dry faster than highly glossy gel nails. Did you use too much alcohol?

Remove the nail polish remover and reapply it if necessary. To avoid drying out your nails, use an acetone-free nail polish remover.

To correctly apply gel nail products, you must be supported, and the best method to do it is with an LED or UV light.

If you have yet to try any of the methods suggested above, you should be alright if you don’t dry your nails with an LED lamp.

Can You Air Dry Your Gel Nails Instead?

Creating a truly professional hard gel nail result cannot be achieved without the use of an LED or UV lamp. So, put the hairdryer back down and log in to your Amazon account, stat.

Can You Air Dry Gel Nail Polish? Learn All The Facts About The Gel Nail Trend

Are There Gel Nail Polish Alternatives That You Can Air Dry?

The gel nail polish trend has evolved in recent years, and the DIY option is becoming ever more popular.

Due to this, beauty giants such as Rimmel have created a gel nail polish hybrid that can be air-dried.

Their Super Gel Polish and Super Gel Top Coat combination enable you to achieve beautifully gel polished nails.

The process requires several layers painted on thinly. Wait for the layers to dry and then paint on your topcoat. 

The only downside is that the high-shine, gel nail polish does not last as long as the UV or LED cured gel nails.

However, should you love the look and don’t have a UV lamp, this is a perfect option.

Fun Fact

The concept of gel nail polish dates back to the 1980s when dentists used dental acrylics for nail enhancements. Over time, the formula evolved, leading to the long-lasting and durable gel nail polish we know today.

How to Remove Your Gel Nail Polish

Removing gel nail polish requires an acetone wash, the same as acrylic and dip powders do.

Not using an acetone solution makes the process of removal painstaking and virtually impossible to achieve. 


Gel nail polish is the go-to trend for all beauty fanatics – and for good reason.

The results are incredible. Not only do they look amazing, but they are a far more natural-looking manicure than having an acrylic option.

They are way more durable than a traditional, regular lacquer, and they last longer than the Gel nail polish hybrid options available.

They are definitely better than the one-night alternative that press-on nails deliver. 

Furthermore, they stay in place, maintaining a chip-proof glossy result for weeks.

Keep the compliments coming, people! The only flaw for those who want to achieve this look at home is the equipment needed. You must have a UV or LED lamp to create the gel nail mani.

That said if you love to keep your nails looking breathtaking with gorgeous polish, investing in an LED lamp would be a great investment. Your ultimate gel nail polish look, forever!

Ariel Coleman