How to Do Natural Nail Gel Overlay?

If you’re looking for a way to give your natural nails a little extra oomph, you may want to consider gel overlays. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know .

The idea of applying nail polish has changed over the years. And some might call it a revolution, even for the beauty industry. So many beauty releases are making their mark, and colors and methods are being invented and applied almost daily.

We are the people who get to work closely with the nail industry, and we’ve noticed clients asking for new things and textures in almost every way. And this is why the colors, designs, and patterns are constantly changing. But what made a difference and stayed the same was when people tried to accept their natural nails.

Nails are the first thing I notice in a person. That might be because I am a professional nail artist, but perfected nails are something to judge a person on. At least you can say that they maintain themselves. But nails will catch your attention somehow. And if we are to think about gel extensions and overlays, the best way to start is with a natural nail gel overlay. This will channel your personality and ensure the opposite party is left with an aww.

Types of nail overlay

Now that we are into nail overlays, there are different sorts of nail overlays available on the market, and they are pretty different in terms of application, textures, and durability.

1. Acrylic Nail Overlay

Acrylic Nail Overlay

These are straight acrylic nails, mostly made from acrylic powder, a liquid, and a binder. Acrylic nail overlays are primarily clear and transparent.

  • Acrylic nail overlay will not require any sort of curing, but it can be air-dried.
  • You can use gel or regular polishes over them.
  • They last up to three weeks, and if you keep them longer, you’ll need touch-ups.
  • They look artificial.
  • Nails will get weak eventually.

2. Gel Nail Overlay

Gel Nail Overlay

Gel nail overlay is a bit like gel polishes; you will need a UV light to cure them. They look very natural and easy to handle.

  • Gel nail overlay needs: a base coat, a choice of gel coloring, and a gel top coat to finish it off.
  • You will need to cure each coat under a LED and UV light.
  • The duration of the curing has to be at least 3 minutes.
  • They last up to two weeks.
  • Expensive and complicated to do at home.

3. Fiberglass/Silk/Linen Overlay


These are primarily used with acrylic or gel overlay to give more strength to the nails.

  • Fiberglass or silk is mixed with natural nail gel overlay and sealed with resin.
  • Looks a lot more like a plated material.
  • Thicker and bulkier than the regular overlays.

What is the gel overlay?

What Is The Gel Overlay

Gel nail overlay is one of the most common manicure techniques nowadays. You have much more control with the gel polishes and even get your desired shape with them. And mostly, you can get it directly on your natural nails, and that too, when you don’t need a length. Why are gel overlays more popular than acrylic nails? Because they can be used to strengthen the nails and don’t have any sort of allergic reaction on the skin.

With gel overlay, the gel is applied directly on your nails, mainly to provide strength. So, these overlays will not break so easily. Gel overlays are not extensions, and you can grow your nails without needing constant touch-ups. And again, they will dry very fast, and the application process can be done at home.

Primarily, there are two different sorts of gel overlay. Soft gel overlay and hard gel overlay. With a delicate gel overlay, you get more of a flexible nail, and you’ll get a very natural-looking appearance with it. The hard gel overlay resembles artificial nails, and you will get a long-lasting nail. Soft gel overlays are mostly known as gel polishes; for hard gel overlays, you will need a salon.

Why choose a gel overlay?

There are several reasons why clients prefer gel overlays over acrylic nails. And the manicure process is also very different from the rest.

  1. Protective Coating: gel overlay will protect the nails from splitting and chipping.
  2. Care for brittle nails: gel overlay is the best solution if the natural nails are weak.
  3. Natural Appearance: if you are to go with a natural look, then the natural nail gel overlay is something that suits almost everyone, unlike acrylics.
  4. Don’t feel lime extensions: natural nail gel overlay does not feel like a lengthening process but something of protection.
  5. Odorless: smell is not a problem with gel overlay.
  6. Sustainable: there are no chemical factors involved with it.

Gel Polish vs. Gel Overlay

Gel Polish Vs Gel Overlay

The major difference between gel polish and a gel overlay is that gel polish requires three layers. And with gel overlay, you need a gel base and top coat. For gel polishes, it is a base coat, a color coat, and a top coat. And for the record, the gel overlays are much more costly than the gel polishes.

  • The Number Of Coats
  • Curing
  • The Feel of the Product
  • Growth
  • Shaping
  • Longevity
  • Usage

1. The number Of coats

This is the most significant difference between the gel overlay and the gel polish. For gel overlay, there will be just the base and top coat. And for the gel polish, you need three coats. And gel overlays are expensive and mostly available in salons or spas. Gel polishes can be found anywhere.

2. Curing

The curing process is different a bit with gel polish and gel overlay. And gel products need to be adequately dried to ensure they don’t chip, crack, or smudge. You will need a UV light for the gel overlay, and Gel polish requires a UV or LED light. So, buy a UV light for both cases.

3. The feel of the product

Gel polish is much lighter than the gel overlay. Gel polishes are the better version of conventional nail polishes and will last a long time. Gel overlay is a bit heavier, but it certainly offers strength and protection to the nails.

4. Growth

Gel overlay will aid in the growth of natural nails in situations where gel polishes cannot. The gel polishes might fade with time, but gel overlays are used for sensitive nails.

5. Shaping

Gel polishes are just the elevated version of nail polishes, and they will help shape your nails. With gel overlay, you can choose different shapes, like oval, hexagon, square, and rounded shapes. Just use a clipper and nail file, just in case.

6. Longevity

The natural nail gel overlays will last longer than the gel polishes as they are less porous and not as stiff as the overlays. So, you can just use warm water to remove the gel polish. And for gel overlay, you will need acetone.

7. Usage

If you’re doing a DIY manicure, we suggest going for gel polishes as they are easy to use and maintain. And for the overlays, you need to go to a salon to secure them.

Types of gel overlay

Types Of Gel Overlay

We mentioned the hard and gel overlay before, but besides those two, other sorts of gel overlay are available on the market. Soft gel overlay is mostly the gel polishes, but there is variation in the hard gel overlay. We include them below.

  • Builder Gel overlay

This is the base coat of the natural nail gel overlay. It is applied directly to the nails and is often used for the more robust version of the nail extensions. For every gel overlay, you start with the builder gel overlay. These are also responsible for the durability of the gel overlay, and they can be cured with UV or LED.

  • Color Gel Overlay

This is a soft gel that is pigmented and is cured with a UV or an LED. You can buy a vast range of colored gel overlays and choose the one you like as the color of your nails.

  • Sculpting Gel Overlay

This gel overlay is used to create the length and almost replicates the fake nails. They can also be used to create nail extensions. With sculpting gel overlay, you can just apply it directly on your natural nails and get the UV light to cure it. And then sculpt and file it to the length you want.

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What is natural nail gel overlay?

What Is Natural Nail Gel Overlay

We’ve been suggesting a lot of facts about the gel overlay, and the natural nail gel overlay is one such fact. It is a durable, flexible, transparent gel that can be applied directly to natural nails. They are thinner than the nail extensions but heavier than the regular gel polishes. If you have an uneven nail surface or a very brittle nail, and you don’t want to get crazy with acrylic nails, then the natural nail gel overlay is perfect.

Natural nail gel overlay is done to create a basic yet reliable nail manicure. So, people don’t go for the sculpting gel overlay as they want to keep it similar to their natural nail length. And with this kind of gel overlay, colored gel overlay is also excused as the manicure is nude. So, the best one to use is the builder gel overlay for the natural nail gel overlay. With this kind of manicure, a stress point can be created, and the shape of the natural nails is maintained. And the gel overlays are famous for their adhesion.

But natural nail gel overlay is mostly done in salons and by professionals. To remove the gel overlay, you might require acetone and an electric file, and the durability is around three weeks. This is more like a middle ground between gel polishes and extensions. They can be removed completely, and as they don’t have any pigment, they will not leave any stain on the natural nails.

How do you do the natural nail gel overlay?

How Do You Do The Natural Nail Gel Overlay

Professionals mostly do gel overlays, and they are a bit on the expensive side. And for starters, you will require more than one tool to get the best results. But if you’re all about a long-term investment, then you must buy the tools. It might be a bit much at first, but it’ll save you the cost of the salon fees regularly.

First, we’ll start with the basic tools you will need for doing a natural nail gel overlay.

  1. Cuticle Pusher
  2. Pinching tool
  3. Nail file
  4. Nail clipper
  5. Polishing block
  6. Nail polish remover
  7. Acetone
  8. Dust free pads
  9. Nail primer
  10. Gel base
  11. Thin brushes
  12. UV lamp
  13. Builder/sculpting gel (colored gel for colored gel overlay)

Now that we’ve listed the products you need for natural gel overlay, let us guide you on how to do your gel overlay at home.

Prepare Your Nails

Step 1: Prepare your nails

First, you must clean your nails with acetone and file your nails to make the natural surface smooth. Remove any built-up oil and dirt, so the overlay will stick properly. You can also trim your natural nails appropriately to a shape you prefer, apply it, and proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Nail primer

For the next step, apply a thin layer of nail primer to make the adhesive less harsh on the nail plates. Apply a thin layer and let it dry completely.

Step 3: Put on the base coat

First, for the natural nail gel overlay process, you need to apply a base coat and then cure the nails for 30 seconds under the LED lamp. And if you’re using a UV light, you can use it for 2 minutes.

Step 4: Apply the builder gel

The next step is applying the builder gel coat and a thin layer like gel nail polish. Ensure this product doesn’t touch the skin and cure it with a UV or LED light. The LED light will take around 60 seconds to cure the nails, and the UV light will again need 2 minutes for the builder gel to dry completely. Remove any access gel with a wooden stick before curing it.

Step 5: Apply the second gel layer

Then there’s the phrase “using the second layer of natural gel overlay,” which requires you to begin by applying a thin covering of gel all over the nail. Start with the middle of the nail and push and spread it around the nail bed. Let the second gel layer settle, and then cure it with an LED or UV light. You can get a curved nail with this sort of overlay.

Step 6: Seal the deal

The last step is to add the sealing layer. It’ll ensure the longevity of the natural nail gel overlay, and you’ll also need to cure it with light. Also, you can add cuticle layers on top for an extra boost.

For the french tip natural nail gel overlay,

After step 4 and possibly step 5, you can add a color gel overlay on top of the builder gel overlay. And for a fundamental French tip, use a white gel overlay with a French tip sticker. Remove the sticker before the paint gets cured. And cure it with light. Then you can use the transparent gel builder overlay on top for a glossy effect. Then proceed to step 6 and seal it.

Natural nail gel overlay ideas for 2022

Here we are including some of the more elevated versions of the French tips with the natural nail gel overlay. The artworks are as simple as they seem and will still look like a natural take on the gel overlay. This is the minimalist version of the natural nail gel overlay.

  1. White Framed
  2. Creamy Swirls
  3. Pale Tips
  4. Fine French
  5. Accented Nails
  6. Neutral Tones
  7. White Negative Space
  8. Negative Grids
  9. Matte Nudes

1. White Framed

White Framed

This is the elevated version of the classic French tip. Instead of white lining the extended version of the nails, frame the whole nail and just make it with a fragile lining. Start with the smile line and do it at the end. And apply a transparent layer on top.

2. Creamy Swirls

This is an updated version of the swirls. First, apply a very nude-colored gel overlay, then use a small brush with a white gel overlay and swirl it around the nude nails. But I made sure to keep it very subtle. And lastly, apply the transparent gel overlay. And for a gleaming coat as a seal.

3. Pale Tips

If you want to nail an almond-shaped gel overlay, then a pale nude or pink overlay will be just the one for you. Start with the smile line right after the builder gel overlay. But do not fill up the tips with the same white-colored gel overlay. To fill up the rest, use the pale pink-colored gel overlay. And lastly, apply the transparent gel overlay for the perfect natural nail gel overlay.

4. Fine French

fine french
Fine French

Some might argue that if you want a very tiny upgrade or a degrade, then use a very thin white stripe line on the tip of the nails. This can be done with a stripping brush, but use a stripping brush or a French tip tape. And do keep your hands very steady while doing it. Finish with a transparent gel overlay.

5. Accented Nails

This is one of the best upgrades from the classic French tips. Instead of the white gel overlay polish, use transparent gel and draw it with a thin brush onto the smile lines. You can use some tiny glitter right after the lay, cure it, and do it one nail at a time.

6. Neutral Tones

If you want a little bit more of a nail and still stay in the natural nail gel overlay lane, we suggest going for some peachy tones. You can use warm brown and peach brown to draw some abstracts and designs. Keep it very subtle, and there shouldn’t be any harsh lines.

7. White Negative Space

White Negative Space

Instead of a French tip, make the nails a bit messier than they usually are. And with this sort of look, you don’t have to be careful regarding the lines. A few swirls here and there will work just fine. The white gel overlay is versatile and gets the subtle nail job done correctly.

8. Negative Grids

We fell in love with a minimal, uncomplicated design with a natural nail gel overlay. You might need some tape and an hour to do the nails properly. And if you’re good with drawing straight lines by hand, these white grid lines with negative space between them are perfect. And this is the best thing about gel overlays; they won’t dry until they are cured.

9. Matte Nudes

And lastly, we have a matte and nude-colored gel overlay with a matte sealer for the perfect natural nail gel overlay. The neutral tone will depend on your skin color, and you should go for the one closest to your skin, like finding your perfect nude in a colored nail gel overlay form.

Mistakes with natural nail gel overlay

Here we are including some common mistakes made while doing a gel overlay. Even professionals do this at some point.

  1. Using a gel overlay with the same viscosity for every pattern and design. You can use a soft potted gel like the Japanese gel for a very natural look. And if you’re thinking about hard gel overlay, you have to go for a viscous gel.
  2. Thick nails are a very big negative sign while doing a gel overlay. You need to structure your nails and give them a shape, and the shape should be concentrated on the middle of the nail.
  3. Uneven surface. You need to file your nails before applying the gel overlay. And you shouldn’t rub too much, or you’ll weaken the nail base.
  4. The use of the electric file. It can be tricky to use an electric file to get rid of the gel overlay, and there is a high chance that you’ll go overboard.
  5. Leaving the long nails flat. The length can be extended if you’re going for a structured natural nail gel overlay, but you still need to structure the rest of the nail.


1. What are the best gel overlay products in the market?

Here we are including some of the products used in gel overlay manicures. 
-Orly Gelfx- Builder
-IBD UV Gels
-Mia Secret- Bio Builder
-Salley Hensen- Metallics
-Beetles Gel Nail Polish- Transparent Builder

2. What is the healthiest nail overlay?

Gel overlay is the healthiest, and you can add colors on top. The acrylic overlay looks like an extension, and its concerns are due to using chemicals like Toluene and others. But gel overlay, specifically the powder dip gel overlay, is the safest.

3. Do gel overlay damage your nails?

Gel overlays do not damage the nails. And instead, they provide durability to the manicure and strengthen brittle and sensitive nails. They need to be removed with an electric file which might be done by a professional.

To Sum Up…

If you have heard of the fresh makeup look trend on TikTok and Instagram, then you are not the only one. It’s your face, with products on it, but still not too heavy. And the same goes for the natural nail gel overlay. This grooming ritual is a revolution for some and is one step further from the clear French tip manicure. Your nails, but better!

Women have always had countless choices when it comes to the beauty industry. They can choose among brands and choose among styles of application. But the style of applying the nude or clear or natural nail gel overlay directly onto the nails gives more of an elegant and sophisticated look than anything else.

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