How to Transition Hard Gel Nails to Soft Gel

So perhaps you or your clients are currently wearing hard gel on your nails, and you’re wondering how to make a relatively seamless transition from hard gel to soft gel nails. In today’s video we’ll be going over how to make that seamless transition, step-by-step.

Greetings and welcome back! If you are new here, I am Paola and I am a certified Japanese gel nail stylist and instructor.

As you may already know hard gel cannot be soaked off of the nails with acetone. It must be filed down thin, and then grown out. Oftentimes, many lack the patience and cannot fight the urge to pick it off the nails… and so they do.

But! What if instead of getting into that trouble, you actually just transitioned to a more natural (but sturdy) nail enhancement like soft gel… and more specifically Japanese soft gel. This can be a great option especially if you are trying to maintain the length of the natural nails.

Now if you don’t already know, Japanese soft gel is strong and sturdy yet natural in appearance and lightweight. It is the perfect nail system to use to transition out of hard gel nails and into soft gel.

So here is the step-by-step.

Essentially you want to think of this process as a rebalance down to the natural nail. So we’re going to remove as much product on these nails with the goal to work on them as if they were bare natural nails, except these will have a little hard gel left behind. 

This process consists of 7 main steps. Let’s begin.

Step 1: Shorten the length.

You’ll want to shorten the length to a rough draft of your clients final desired length. The length at this very point does not have to be nearly exact, again, this is just a rough draft.This will ensure that you don’t spend unnecessary time filing down and also that you don’t wear down your drill bit unnecessarily. Depending on the nail set you can shorten the nail length with clippers, a coarse file, or your efile with a carbide bit at high speed.

Step 2: Thin down 

Thinning down the product down to just almost the natural nail will allow you to rebuild this enhancement with the reinforcement of the new soft gel product you’re using and not the left over hard gel. You will want to keep an angle as parallel as possible to the nail to ensure evenness. You may use a gentle carbide bit like the Smooth Taper Barrel from Erica’s (make sure to use code PPN10 for 10% Off!), but because you may potentially touch the natural nail I would recommend switching to a ceramic bit the closer you get to the natural nail. The reason for this is because a ceramic bit will not shave the natural nail as much as a carbide would if it touched the nail.

Step 3: Cuticle work.

Brush off all the dust and begin your cuticle work. You may already know that one of my all time favorite cuticle bits is the Safety Sciver Bit also from Erica’s (don’t for get to use your 10% off code , PPN10). It is very gentle and nearly impossible to cut your client with it. For thick cuticle and eponychium that will not push back easily I do recommend using a cuticle softener, and I find that this Leafgel one leaves no oily residue that will cause me lifting, and makes the skin supple enough to push back (you can also save 10% off with code PPN10 at checkout!). 

Step 4 Buff & Dehydrate.

You’ll want to take a 180g sponge buffer and blend the old hard gel material unto the natural nail. You can use this same sponge buffer to ever so gently to remove the shine and cuticle off of the exposed natural nail growth. Remove all the dust and dehydrate the nail with an alcohol solution. 

At this point you are working on the nails as if you were working on a set of prepped natural nails.

Step 5 (Optional): Bonder

Now if you were unsure of incompatibility between your hard gel and soft gel product you could apply a bonder solution only over the left over hard gel product. This step is super optional and unnecessary almost but if it gives you peace of mind go for it, and remember to not apply over the exposed natural nail. Japanese soft gel has excellent adhesion properties just on it’s own over the natural nail. It does not require a dehydrator prep solution or bonder.

Step 6: Base

When using Japanese gel, apply your base a little more generously than you would a traditional hard gel or soft gel system. You could self-level it nicely and move on to your color or nail art, or for longer nails also apply a Japanese gel builder like Leafgel’s Sculpting Gel or Vetro’s Extension Clear. However, there is a very cool japanese gel product you can use from Kokoist, and that is Platinum Bond Duo. It is both a base gel and and a builder in one, and it feels like a thin but strong hard gel. So you could do this step with just this one product, Platinum Bond Duo (yup, code PPN10 also gets you 10% off of this product at checkout!),  or again, simply a Japanese gel base overlaid with a builder. Either application will work. You will have success with either one, so don’t get hung up if you don’t have Platinum Bond Duo. But if you really want to give it a try especially on those clients transitioning from hard gel to soft gel check out the link in my description below to buy.

Step 7: Do your thing

So now you have established a strong foundation. You’ve done a thorough prep, and you’ve overlaid the nails with a strong application. You are ready to do your thing. Finish them with your color of choice or bedazzled them with your desired nail art. You’ve successfully transitioned the nails from hard gel to soft gel.

Thank you so much for tuning in today, and if  you would like to meet other Japanese gel nail enthusiasts and solo-preneurs in the nail industry, join us in our private community. Be the first to know when I post again, by subscribing to my newsletter!

Have a merry start to week in I’ll see you in the next one!


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