5 Popular Japanese Gel Nail Colors To Start With

This is one of the most popular questions I get asked, probably because it involves a lot of commitment, and that is…

Paola, what are your favorite color recommendations from X brand?

And so, I thought this would make an excellent topic to put into the record of this Japanese Gel Series.. And I’m going to be throwing in 5 of my favorite must-buy color recommendations, not just from 1 brand but from 4 that I’m very familiar with. Leafgel, Kokoist, and Vetro!

Let’s get started!

So, if you’re staying up to date with this series. In Episode 1, we talked about what Japanese Gel is. It is a high-quality, very versatile soft gel that can be used for any/all of your services, and it is made in Japan.

We can also generally call it soft potted gel systems, soft gel soakable formulas in pots, in even more descriptive words. And I usually do prefer this term as I can also include Bio Sculpture into the mix as they were the inventors of this type of gel system.

But believe me… about five years ago, when I started with these types of gels, if you said oh, I use soft gel… then people would say oh, like gel polish i.e., OPI, Gelish, and I’d have to be like, NO! Like the stuff in the jars, Japanese Gel… and then I would get ah! Yes! I know what you’re talking about, or ah! Ok, tell me more! Which were, in return, two winning responses. So in a way, Japanese Gel and Soft Potted Gel are synonymous with one another… but they are?? But no… lol.

Alright… now! Let’s get to the 5 must-have colors from each brand. My top 5 picks are really going to be real client eye-catchers. I’m talking like… I hand clients the swatch, and within seconds, they’re like this ONE. So really good picks you won’t have to worry about these little pots sitting in your drawers being useless.

Of course, black and white are must-haves, so I’m not going to include these as part of your must-haves in this reading. Obviously, choose your preferred brands of black and white. I’ve tried them all from these three brands, and all will provide one coat of full coverage or will be excellent for line work.

Oh! And one last thing! Just super curious because I was also debating this with a bestie of mine… when you choose your colors, do you go by gel color names or gel color numbers? I didn’t even think this was a topic of conversation until we popped this question in a chat and saw a 50/50 split among students. Then, I really gave it some thought, and I was like shoot I guess I go by more gel number! SO … I’m still curious…let me know in the comments section. What do you prefer? Number or name??

From Vetro,

The first color that comes to mind is

Favorite #1 #199 Girl It is a red-orange, and spoiler alert, all of my recommendations will have a version of this. Still, this one literally was the first one that popped into my head when I thought Vetro, and it’s even the one featured on the Canadian site.

[On a little side note, a few students and I prefer the Canadian site even though we’re in the U.S. because all that is in this site is Vetro; you don’t have to go fishing in it for them in a pool of thousands of other non-related nail items. They currently do ship to the U.S. from the U.S. Either just thought I’d share in case anyone was confused.]

Favorite #1

OK. back to #199… So this red-orange is not as vibrant as the ones I’ll recommend from Bio Gel or Kokoist, but if you’re narrowing down your brands to Vetro or Vetro and something else, this is definitely a guaranteed pick for clients.

Favorite #2

Next is Studio No. 284. It is literally the perfect sheer, creamy beige. One of my besties in the industry would literally say 284 Everything! It’s like the hot sauce or ketchup of nails, whatever you’re into. (lol) You can wear it on its own, making it the background of your French or gradation. Or even overlay a super thin layer, remember it is sheer, over things like decals and flakes… super gorgeous. Also, if you’re thinking of creating a blonde tortoise design, this right here is your secret sauce.

Favorite #3

#260 Jewel Topaz Yes, you can probably draw a perfect type of Topaz nail piece with this one, but this one along with our next color is what you need for that Vetro Tortoise Nail Art Recipe

Favorite #4

#261 Jewel Umber, and because for tortoise nails, you need 2 to tango, you cannot leave without its dancing partner this #260 Oh yeah dab this on after a cured layer of Jewel Topaz, and you’re that much closer to your tortoise piece.

Favorite #5

#306 Guys and gals… if you seriously want to turn heads upon instant nail contact do yourself a favor and grab that electric pink… it’s so electric indeed.

From Kokoist

you’ll need… notice, now I’m switching to the word #need (LOL) how did that happen? Also, don’t forget to add code PPN10 at checkout on the Kokoist page for a 10% discount ;).

Favorite #1

Ok, seriously, I’ve tried reds from all of these lovely brands, and for that classic red, # 03 Rouge Red takes the cake. It’s not orangy-red. We’ll get into that in a moment! When students submit their certification work to me for Kokoist, this red is it. It is vibrant. It is red. With the slightest warmth to it, making it the universal red to own.

Favorite #2

For a less traditional BUT absolutely gorgeous red-orange look no further than #69 Summer Red… BUT WAIT, not even kidding; if you want to stir up some serious nail envy, opt for the bottled version #09 called My Favorite Red. It is just a notch more vivid and super beautiful!

Favorite #3

#173 Peanut Butter Toffee or like the cool kids would say PBT! The perfect warm sheer nude… literally your backdrop to anything. We use it in our Kokoist certification training, and we’ve done demo after demo after demo with it… soo fun and easy.

Favorite #4

Strawberry Latte! A pastel pale pink, but not too pale, and a lot of white in it. Clients love to see you struggle through the streaks, too, lol. Just apply it in 2 thin coats and five fingers at a time, and it will self-level just fine. Don’t let it intimidate you.

Favorite #5

If you want a year-round super fun option for clients, look no further than #51 Gold Micro Glitter. This champagne glitter is a hit, so much so that I actually hid it, yes as in hiding it, from clients. Especially around the holidays, like every other client will choose it, and you’ll need to replace it often and have your other colors sitting on the sidelines.

Now on to Leafgel

You can use code PPN10 at checkout for a 10% discount ;).

Favorite #1

#K08 Oh yes! Remember earlier how I sort of drool-talked you into Vetro’s 284, that creamy translucent light beige, well K08 is like the white version of that. Creamy white and a good backdrop to many designs.

Favorite #2

Ok, if you want that red-orange #008 is Leafgel’s version. I really like it, and it is a client favorite of course, but IT IS more muted than Vetro’s or Kokoist’s version.

Favorite #3

#601 MUST, MUST have this one; this is not just your pale pink with white. This is your soft warm pale pink with an Ivory white undertone. This one and K08 are probably the 2 Leafgel colors I can see the bottom of the pot too.

Favorite #4

Ok, call me boring, but I think that if you are trying to increase opacity, meaning more full coverage in your designs, then you definitely need #005. It is not stark, it has just enough ivory tone to make it more wearable even just as a one-color manicure, but again I also use it as a base color for many of my designs.

Favorite #5

#69 Lastly! Who doesn’t love the perfect peachy color? If you want a little white to your peachy color, this one here has enough. It is guaranteed to be a customer favorite, especially in the upcoming Summer season.

Yay, we’ve made it!

On the topic of gel colors, I also get asked frequently… OK, which brand colors do you like the most if they were to commit to the full line’s colors? and then I get really put in a pickle. LOL. Because as hard as it is, I try to stay impartial so that you can make the buying decisions.

Here is the truth…

if your services consist of primarily single color … Vetro would be my choice.

If you sort of do a mix of both nail art and single color, then Kokoist, and then Leafgel.

Overall yes, Vetro and Kokoist are my top 2 brand recommendations for colors; the range is quite plentiful. But again that’s only if you’re buying the entire color range, otherwise, this is why I created this video to show you that I have faves in all.

I wanted to keep this video short and sweet or perhaps you were considering buying your items soon and are budgeted to only about 5 colors, so as to not overwhelm I chose these 5 as top picks. They are winners among clients for sure!

And I did not want to leave without saying that when working with potted gel you obviously will need brushes.


My recommendation is to have 3 brushes for these 3 color scenarios…

One for light colors.

One for dark colors.

One for glitters (must must use a different one for glitters)

And a nice firm liner for your detail and line work. I like Leafgel’s Liner L or the award winning Nail Thoughts Detailer Liner Brush.

For your colors for 5+ years I’ve used Vetro’s oval brush for my color application and I really really like it. My second favorite would be the Vetro Max, or the Kokoist Round brush if working on longer nails. And as I mention in my previous video I do find myself to work so much comfort with a rounded edge to my brush rather than a flat one.

Well y’all thank you so much for joining me in this episode #3 of this current Japanese Gel Series; if you’ve missed previous episodes make sure to check out the playlist on it.

Thank you so much for hanging out with me today, I’ll see you next week for Episode 4, all about curing units and Japanese gel.

Bye for now!

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Content written by Paola Ponce

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