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What Is a Structured Gel Manicure?

What Is a Structured Gel Manicure

Are your nails thin and fragile? Do you bite them? In either case, you can greatly benefit from a structured gel manicure. It reinforces the natural nails without making them feel bulky.

What is a structured gel manicure? We'll explain what it is, how it's different from other types of manicures, and what products you'll need to do it.

What’s the Difference Between a Structured Gel Manicure and Traditional Gels?

What Is a Structured Gel Manicure

Regular gel polish has a thin consistency. It can be layered but doesn't reinforce the nail like a thicker builder gel. It’s also not as helpful for doing nail art enhancements.

However, structured gel manicures are done with hard gels that build, strengthen, and shape the nail. Structure gel can also create extensions and all sorts of enhancements.

Are Builder Gel, Hard Gel, and Structure Gel All the Same?

The terms are often used interchangeably. All of these gels have a thicker texture and higher viscosity than regular polish and are more durable than soft gels.

Here’s an example of a builder gel that can be used for a structured manicure:

LAVIS Builder Gel

What Is a Structured Gel Manicure


Shape and strengthen your natural nails with an odorless builder gel that levels like a dream. The long-lasting finish stays glossy and gorgeous for up to 3 weeks. You'll need a UV or LED nail lamp to cure it which means you have as much time as you need to work with it first.

This kit comes with 6 neutral shades including clear. Each one is flexible, wrinkle-free, and straightforward to remove when it’s time for a change.

It’s highly recommended for French manicures, nail art, and structure gel manicures to fortify damaged nails.

How Is Structure Gel Different from Acrylics?

Acrylic nails are rigid compared to a structured gel manicure. Structure gel is thicker than acrylic but it’s more flexible and less prone to chipping. However, acrylics air dry while structure gel requires a nail lamp to cure.

How Long Does a Structured Gel Manicure Last?

This durable type of manicure, when properly done, can last up to 6 weeks. However, as the nails grow out, it’s best to redo it about every 3 weeks.

Can You Use Structure Gel for Extensions?

Yes, structure gel is sturdy enough to create extensions. Place paper or a mold underneath the nail to shape the tips and cure the gel when you’re done.

KUPA - Enrichrx Trio Pack

What Is a Structured Gel Manicure


Here’s a structure gel that’s enriched with collagen and vitamin E to strengthen natural nails. It comes in a multicolor pack with bottles of nude pink, sheer white, and ultra-clear.

For best results, apply a base coat followed by the structure gel. Cure for 60 seconds under LED light or 90 seconds under UV.

When it’s time to remove the gel, it’s best to use a nail drill to take off most of it first. Then soak the nails in acetone for 15 minutes.

What Are the Benefits of a Structured Gel Manicure?

Structured gel manicures are helpful for all types of nails, but have extra benefits for some people. For example, if you’re trying to grow out damaged nails, you can still have a gorgeous manicure with structure gel. It fortifies the nail and allows the skin under the free edge to grow back naturally. It can also help straighten crooked nails.

Also, high-viscosity gels don’t have the strong odor of acrylic and they self-level all on their own. When you’re building the apex of the nail, all you have to do is flip the hand over and let gravity do the work.

What Is the Downside to a Structured Gel Manicure?

There are a few cons, however. It takes a couple of hours or longer to do a basic structured manicure not including extensions or nail art.

Second, it takes practice and skill to properly do a structured gel manicure with a natural shape.

Lastly, depending on the product used, you might have to file down the gel for removal. Nevertheless, some structure gels dissolve with acetone alone.

Can You Apply Structure Gel Over a Regular Gel Manicure?

Yes, structure gel can be applied over a gel manicure. Just cure the color gel polish first.

How Do You Do a Structured Gel Manicure?

Good preparation is essential to a beautiful manicure. Start by shaping and cleaning the nail and pushing back the cuticles. If possible, do a dry manicure without using water for washing so that the gel adheres properly.

If desired, you can apply gel polish first, then finish with structure gel. Otherwise, you can use structure gel by itself. Brush it on and flip the hand. This allows the gel to plump naturally over the apex of your natural nail. (Look at the profile of your nail. The apex is the tallest part somewhere near the middle.)

Cure the nails per the instructions on the product and follow up with a top coat.

IBD LED/UV Builder Clear Gel

What Is a Structured Gel Manicure


This brand of builder gel is odorless and free of toluene and formaldehyde. It cures in 60 seconds under a LED lamp or 3 minutes under UV light. Although it’s not labeled as “structure gel” it’s often used for structured gel manicures.

What’s nice is how easy it is for beginners to use. The gel self-levels smoothly, making it a dream to work when doing nail art.

How to Remove a Structured Gel Manicure?

You’ll need acetone, cotton pads, foil, an orange stick, and a file. Buff the nails to remove the shine. Then soak the cotton in acetone and wrap each fingertip in cotton with foil on top. Wait 15 minutes.

Use the wooden orange stick to remove the gel. If it’s still hard, wait another few minutes and try again. Wipe off the residue with acetone, and be sure to apply cuticle oil to resolve any dryness.


If you’re wondering how to protect fragile nails and still have a pretty manicure, structure gel is the solution. Although doing a structured gel manicure isn’t straightforward for beginners, it’s a technique that anyone can learn. Like everything else with nails, it just takes practice.

What’s more, structure gel allows you to have plenty of creative leeway. You can do extensions and nail art with it as well as a traditional manicure.