Tip Tuesday: Stirring Your Gels

Calgel Colour & Pro Colour are created using a clear builder as their bases. These are sold separately as Calgel Clear and Pro Base & Build. These bases are then coloured with a variety of pigments to create over 200 colours in each range. These pigments need to be mixed thoroughly during production, so they are suspended evenly. All colours are then assessed for adequate distribution of pigments, to ensure colours cure thoroughly and offer full coverage in two coats.

What causes nail gel to separate?

The pigments used to colour our gel vary in weight, heavier ones tend to sink to the bottom and lighter ones can separate from the clear but at a slower rate. This why some colours need more mixing before use (glitters & metallics tend to sit at the bottom of the pot more). Use a non-metal tool to ensure you get all the pigment off the bottom of the pot. Mix your gels until you have a uniform colour & can no longer see separation of clear and pigment. If gels are used regularly and pigments haven’t suck to the bottom, you can use your metal gel stirring tool taking care not to scrap the bottom of the pot

Stirring allows for an even distribution of pigment & clear to maintain the ideal consistency & coverage.  We also recommend stirring your gels when not in use (especially important for more seasonal colours that may sit in your drawer for months.)

Gels with glitter or metallic pigments may be more susceptible to solidifying when not in use due to their heavier weight. Not stirring your gels can lead to breakdown in service efficiency and may lead to curing & stability issues. Caring for gels and storing them properly can help your gels to last longer so you can use every drop. We cover this in more detail below.

Gel Trouble Shooting

Are you finding your gels are perfect to start with, then feel thicker and harder to apply as you use up the gel?

This can happen when gels aren’t stirred before every use. Gravity starts pulling the pigments down and they separate from the gel.  Maintaining the correct ratio of pigment to gel is important for adequate curing and smooth consistency.

If gels aren’t being stirred adequately each time, the pigments start to separate from the gel, as you scoop the gel from the top of the pot, you're using more diluted colour gel. With a newer pot, this often doesn't cause a problem, but as time goes by, without thorough mixing, the remaining gel gets more concentration. The gel left lower down the pot becomes over pigmented and the gel starts to feels thicker.

Has a gel gels stopped curing properly, or start wrinkling as you get halfway through a pot when it was fine to start with?

If your pigment to gel ratio is has become unbalanced, you might also start experiencing curing issues as well as the gel feeling ‘thick’ or harder to work with. When this happens, it impacts the UV lights ability to work its way through the layer of gel and cure it properly. It is crucial this balance is restored to protect your client’s nail health & ensure you are able to use every last drop of gel.

Sometimes your gel might appear fully cured and application wasn’t too stressful, but then your client’s nails start peeling after a few days.

If you’ve ruled out any issues with your lamp, and it’s only happening on colours you previously had no problem with, pigment ratio has become so unbalanced the gel has only been able to cure on the top, and the light has been unable to reach the bottom of your gel.

Peeling can also occur if the layers of gel are too thick, or they haven’t been cured for long enough.

Do you need to throw away your gel if this happens?

Rather than giving up or throwing out that gel, you can apply a pea size scoop of clear gel to help restore the balance. If it still feels thick, apply a little bit more gel and check the colour density on a tip. Cure it in two layers and wipe with Guard, very little colour should transfer onto your wipe (some is normal).

If it goes on nicely and you’re happy it didn’t wrinkle or wipe off, you can double check it’s curing properly by following the steps below.

Using a bit of foil, apply a bit of your mix onto it, try to use the same thickness you would use on a nail. Cure for the normal time and apply a second layer and cure again. Remove the top sticky residue with GUARD, and peel off the gel from the foil and touch the bottom, it should not be sticky or gloopy. It should peel off easily and leave little to no residue on the foil. Then you know it’s cured all the way through. If you poke the gel, no gel should ooze out.

What if your gels feel thick and hard to apply but you’re stirring before every client? 

Colder temperature can affect your gel’s consistency. Many Nail Pros like to gently warm their gels for a smoother application. Some put them between their thighs or use a warming device. This does work well, but if you choose to use a cup warmer or heated mitts or heated mitts for example, they should only be used for a short time just to bring the gels back to room temperature. You need to ensure the gels aren’t overheated.

Doug Schoon, a World Leading Nail Expert, gives his thoughts on heating gel monomers in this blog if you'd like to read more on the topic.

If you are a mobile nail technician, we always recommend bringing your kit into the house and not leaving in the car. If your salon gets particularly cold, try storing your gels in the warmest room when closed or, as Doug Schoon recommends, in insulated containers.

Gel Maintenance 

We also highly recommend stirring gels when not in use for months, this is particularly important for gels that are metallic or seasonal.  

Do you have some gels that are solidifying when not in use?

Our gels come with a best before date, these are decided from stability testing in normal room temperature. If gels are stored properly and maintained (used regularly or stirred when not in use), they should last at least two years. A number of factors can impact their stability, which we have touched on above. Some colours may be more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, leading to breakdown or stabilisation of colour, consistency issues or pigments pulling together and solidifying when not in use. You may find this happens more with metallic or sparkle/glitter gels.

Stirring your gels can extend their ‘shelf-life’, ensuring you are able to use the whole pot and maintain them far beyond their best before dates. We would recommend every 4-6 weeks for stirring unused gels.

Problems with a newly delivered gel?

If you have gels that feel thick or don’t cure when you receive them and are well within their best before dates, please contact us immediately.

When you receive your order we always recommend removing your gels from your package, letting them sit upright on a table, (so any gel that may have come into contact with the top seal settles back down) and reach room temperature. Once they've settled,  please open them & give them a stir to double check all are in usable condition.

We work hard to maintain high quality control, sometimes a few gels within a batch may have issues, especially if they are at the end of a decanting run. These are more isolated incidents but we are always here to assist with any issues, so please don’t hesitate to call us if you think something isn’t right.

Please call us on 01582 798920

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