Are Japanese Gel Nails Any Good? | CoolJapan

Getting gel nail manicures is a double-edged sword decision. You’ll have pretty nails that last for weeks but gel manicures can also leave your digits brittle. Good thing there’s another option that’s becoming popular these days: Japanese gel nails. They’re a soft-gel, soak-off type which means they’re set using a UV light and can be removed with acetone nail wraps or soak. Japanese gel nails are easily identifiable from regular gel nail polish because they come in pot form. The reason why they’re becoming a favourite among nail enthusiasts is because they promise to give the best of both worlds — vibrant, long-lasting colours that easily adhere to the nails with minimal prep yet can be easily removed or filed down. Eager to know more? Here’s why you should try Japanese gel nails.

They can be better for your nail’s health

When you go for a dip powder manicure, acrylic or regular gel nails, the prep requires roughening up the nail’s texture and dehydrating it with alcohol to make sure that the powder, acrylic or gel adheres perfectly. But with Japanese gel nails, you don’t need to do any special prep. You just need clean nails as a base. This will make your talons less prone to brittleness and potential damage.

Another benefit from getting Japanese gel nails is that they’re typically a five-free nail polish, meaning they’re formulated without five potentially toxic ingredients Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), or Camphor.

They’re long-lasting, highly pigmented, and adhere well

Japanese gel nails are more expensive than your average nail polish and that’s because they’re made in small batches and are more concentrated with less dilution (meaning less solvents) to deliver a long-lasting, highly pigmented finish, according to Certified Japanese Gel Nail Instructor Paola Ponce.

Paola Ponce demonstrates how to easily apply Japanese gel nails.

This means Japanese gel nails can also be used for manual nail art unlike typical gel polish that’s usually used only for one-colour looks. As a bonus, you can also top off your manicure with other design elements like sequins or glitters without ruining the colour base. Adding to the Japanese gel nails’ versatility is its ability to be used as a “semi-hard” nail polish with the right amount of application so you can have the sturdy feel without uncomfortable bulkness.

Manual nail art using Japanese gel nails.

Where to get  Japanese gel nails manicure

Although you can apply Japanese gel nail polish by yourself, in our region it’s not easy to get these potted goodies. Only two among the most popular brands — Presto, Shinygel, Vetro, Leafgel and Kokoist — ship or have distributors in Southeast Asia. 

If you’re located in Singapore, you can get a hold of Japanese gel nails from Shinygel at Princess Cottage nail salon. Another salon you can stop by for a manicure session is BRANCHÉ, where they use Japanese gel nails from Para Gel.

In the Philippines, there’s a salon called Kiyosa that has its own Japanese gel nail polish that you can try. The pricing is premium and can vary (PHP 800-1,380) depending on whether you prefer a junior or senior nail stylist to service you. As for gals in Malaysia, you can try buying from Kokoist, which offers international shipping.

While Japanese gel nails are not yet as popular in our region as they are in Japan, New York and California, we’re confident that their nail-friendly features and versatility will eventually gain traction here too.

(Cover photo from: Lazar Gugleta via Unsplash)