I Started Using the Aprés Gel X Extension Kit at Home, and I’m Never Going Back

I Started Using the Aprés Gel X Extension Kit at Home, and I'm Never Going Back

Since I can now apply for my own soft gel extensions at home, I am spending substantially less on salon services.

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I couldn’t stop myself from gnawing my own nails; therefore, fake nails are my only hope. But here’s the thing: I get tired of my manicures after a week or two, so more durable solutions like acrylics and hard gel extensions can eventually drive me crazy, not to mention how expensive they are. On the other hand, press-on nails that are extremely temporary but more reasonably priced can come off of my hands after just a few days of constant use. But with soft gel extensions, I’ve finally discovered my ideal substitute for natural nails; this is where the Aprés Gel X Nail Extension Kit comes in.

Let me first explain what soft gel extensions are in reality. I could go on and on about the differences between the various kinds of false nails, but in a nutshell, soft gel extensions are more or less transparent, ultra-thin fake nails that resemble plain press-on and are attached to your natural nails using thick gel polish that is hardened by a UV or LED lamp. These kinds of nail extensions can be removed with acetone similar to a typical gel manicure, unlike other kinds of nail extensions.

Soft gel extensions are available from other brands as well, but Aprés is a popular choice among celebrity nail artists, in-salon nail technicians, and quite a few nail-art influencers on TikTok. It’s essentially the industry standard for at-home soft gel extensions for individuals who want to do their own nails because the firm provides a single handy kit that includes almost everything needed to create a look.

What comes in the Après Gel X Extensions Kit, and how much does it cost?

The Aprés Gel X Nail Extension Kit comes with a set of extensions in the shape and length of your choice, a pH bonder, nail primer, a bottle of Extend Gel (the thick substance used to cure extensions onto natural nails), a gel topcoat, a nail file, and a small LED curing lamp. (By the way, if you run out of any of these things, you can get them separately.) The only item you’ll need to accomplish a full manicure that is not included in this kit is nail polish; however, you can choose to top the nails with conventional polish or gel polish if you already have those options. Whatever you put on those suckers once they are on is entirely up to you.

The brand will soon offer Extra Short and Extra Long options in addition to the current Short, Medium, and Long extensions. The brand provides alternatives for coffin, square, round, and stiletto nail forms. Additionally, Après offers natural and sculpted variations of each of these lengths and shapes, which you should choose based on the natural shape of your nail beds. For example, people with flatter nails should choose natural extensions, while people with C-shaped cuticles should choose the sculpted variation.

Each package includes 500 extensions in 10 various sizes, which are numbered (00 to 9); the higher the number, the smaller the nail, similarly to press-on nails (the larger the number, the smaller the nail). Eunice Park, a nail technician and Aprés’ research and development manager, informs me that the company will soon offer sizing expansion. If you have wide nail beds like I do, you might have problems finding an extension size big enough to completely cover your thumbs (in addition to the upcoming new lengths). We will be expanding some of our [other] sizes in January 2023, she adds, in addition to the release of triple zero the following year.


All the images of my manicures you see in this story were created using the Natural Round Short extension because I have somewhat flat nail beds, prefer oval or rounded tips, and like my nails on the shorter side. The natural coffin medium, according to Park, is the most common shape. However, since you can cut and file these however you like once they’re applied, the shape doesn’t really matter.

The entire package costs $118 before tax and delivery, which I find to be completely insane (in a positive sense) given how much money I can save over time. The last time I had fresh, hard gel extensions with personalized nail art in New York City, the price was double that. It’s true that I enjoy chatting with a professional as she hand-paints tiny designs on my nails; this is a service I’ll happily pay for occasionally, but now that I’ve figured out how to use this system at home, it’s comforting to know that I can get professional-grade fake nails without shelling out a lot of money.

How do you use the Après Gel X Extensions System at home?

The primary thing you should be aware of before purchasing this kit is that there is a relatively high learning curve involved. You won’t be able to master this the first time, no matter how skilled you are with a nail paint brush. Air pockets in the Extend Gel, retaining the fake nail on your real nail while it cures at the same time, choosing the precise size for each nail, and other difficulties are just a few of the difficulties you’ll face. While I don’t wish to discourage you, I do want to tell you that it will take some effort to do it perfectly. However, I firmly believe that if my clumsy ass can finally learn this, then most anyone can. If you’re the permanently well-groomed, it’s worthwhile.

Before you begin, you must choose the appropriate nail sizes from your package. Each extension should perfectly align with the boundaries of your nail beds; you don’t want any of your natural nails to protrude from the sides or bottom, but you also don’t want the extension to cover too much skin. Pick up the larger nail and file the bottom edges till it fits if you have nails that are in between sizes. It’s a pain to take the extra step, but it’s necessary if you want your sets to last. In my experience, bad fits are the main culprit for sets that end too soon.

The brand advises filing the underside of each nail once you’ve aligned your extensions (I’ve seen nail technicians file both sides before, but at home, I only file the bottom, and it doesn’t appear to make a difference). However, you may definitely use the nail file included in the kit or other files you already have at home; the only requirement is that the bottom has some texture that the Extend Gel can hold onto. Professional nail artists will probably use a drill file for this. The next stage is nail prep, which is also essential for the durability of a set.

Nail preparation for Gel X is relatively low-key, although crucial. Due to the system’s construction, this artificial nail only needs a light rub, unlike most others that require a nail technician to literally drill into your cuticles. Because acrylic molecules are extremely large, you must vigorously file the natural nail for the acrylic to adhere to the natural nail plate, according to Park. The molecules in gel are significantly smaller, so they don’t require the same level of vigorous polishing.

Additionally, it’s much easier to remove any dirt from under your nails before applying extensions than afterward.

After buffing the nails, the only preparation required is to use the included pH bonder and primer to dehydrate the nails so that the gel will adhere more effectively. The next step is to apply a thin coat of Extend Gel to your natural nail and cure it for 30 seconds, as advised by the manufacturer. I advise working on this and the subsequent steps one hand (or finger) at a time because this polish will be sticky even after it has totally dried.

The next step in the application process is painting the Extend Gel on the underside of each extension so that you can cure the gel and the nail together, which is universally regarded as the most challenging. To ensure that the extension covers the entire nail evenly and without air pockets or bubbles when you press it onto your nail, you paint the Extend Gel onto the underside. However, this is much easier said than done.

According to Natalie Minerva, a nail technician based in Los Angeles who used the Gel X system daily on the set of Euphoria’s second season, “it does take some time to learn how to eyeball [the amount of gel] right.” Sigourney Nuez, a nail technician located in Los Angeles, says, “Sincerably, it requires practice.” “It only requires practice, similar to when you become accustomed to painting your own nails and learn how much polish to apply.”

You must get a “nailfie” when you visit an overpriced cocktail bar with your brand-new DIY Gel X set. I’m sporting “Need Some Vitamin Sea” nail polish from Nails Inc. Nail set made in Mykonos Allure/Nicola Dall’Asen

The extension won’t be firmly attached to the nail if you don’t use enough Extend Gel in this phase, and it could even come off. If you use too much, the gel will start to leak all over, which can cause severe skin rashes. The majority of how you figure out this step will depend on your own trial and error, but experts do have a few tips and tricks to guide you.

Whether or not you forgo the initial step of painting it onto your natural nail will determine how much Extend Gel you apply to the extension, as Nuez points out. She refers to the technique, in which gel is applied to both the extension and the natural nail, as the “velcro method,” and when she employs it, she doesn’t need to use as much gel on the extension. Removing the tip and adding additional product before curing is crucial if you utilize this procedure and find that you need to apply extra product. This is because, once you’ve cured, there really isn’t any turning back without completely removing the extension.

Minerva approaches this action with the philosophy that “little is more.” You may always apply more, but if you add too much, it will be more difficult to remove the leftover gel, she warns. I typically push the extension down from the cuticle outward after applying about a “dew drop” worth of Extend Gel to the underside of the nail.

This gets me to the second, more difficult phase of this procedure: holding the gelled-up extension in place while it cures under a lamp. It’s rather simple for your hand to unintentionally slip or press down too hard or too softly while you’re trying to get your finger underneath a lamp. This can result in air pockets, flooded cuticles, or wonky placement even if the appropriate amount of Extend Gel has been applied to the underside of the extension.

Fortunately, there are suggestions for that as well. “The extension should be applied at a 45-degree angle, in my opinion.” Do not treat it if there is flooding [at the cuticle]! First, clean it up, then try again. Nuez gives advice. As Park also showed me, the Extend Gel cannot cure underneath any areas where your finger is holding down the extension. For this reason, you must be extremely cautious when moving your fingers while they are under the lamp. Simply lifting the finger that is holding the extension down while it is still curing will cause bubbles to form and the extension to begin lifting.Instead, she advises carefully moving your finger to the sides so that you may hold the nail in place while allowing the light to reach every part of the nail as it cures. It’s okay if there is still a small amount of gel overflow; this happens to me frequently. In this situation, I use a cuticle trimmer and a buffer or file to smooth the edges.

Thank God, the rest is easy sailing and entirely up to you. Most of the time, I just slightly shorten mine and use the included nail file to practically form them ovular. After that, I frequently apply ordinary nail polish and finish it with Aprés Gel Topcoat (if you do this, just make sure you paint in thin layers and that your nails are very dry before gel topcoat). Other times, I’ll use Aprés gel nail polishes, with Birnham Wood (black), Luna Luna (neon yellow), and Lucky Envelope among my favorite hues.

The application procedure is often liberated by nail artists and influencers online by adding or omitting some steps, but the professionals I spoke with advised adhering to the brand’s recommendations to keep things straightforward. For what it’s worth, I’ve tried bypassing some of these stages and performing extra prep, but nothing has been as effective as the original instructions for creating sets that are easy to use, cozy, and long-lasting.

That said, there is nothing prohibiting you from experimenting with various techniques. According to Park, “The guidelines that we supply are the basis; you can build from there.” We just want to teach you the technique that, in our opinion, has the highest success rate for the majority of people. However, if you already have a different hack that works for you or your clients, that is totally acceptable.

How long do Après Gel X Nail Extensions last?

How thoroughly you apply them and how you live your daily life will determine how long your Gel X sets last. It’s impossible to predict when improperly fitted or cured extensions will just pop off. According to Park, the extensions should last between two and four weeks “with proper prep and application.” According to Minerva, her sets typically last three weeks.

My artificial nails never last longer than two weeks because I am not at all careful with them. I pull up my too-tight slacks with enthusiasm, I’m always knee-deep in dirty dishes, and I type all day at work, fairly forcefully to boot. (I prefer it that way since I get bored doing my manicure anyway.) Similar to how you’d ensure a set of press-on nails would last longer, you can make sure a set of Gel X extensions would last longer by treating them gently. Additionally, you can quickly take care of any individual nails that happen to prematurely fall off once you have the set at home.

However, if your outfit is more than four weeks old, you might experience some issues. “I’ve seen people wear their sets for like six, seven, or eight weeks,” says Park. “I don’t recommend it go that long.” The balance of the nail is thrown off as the extension grows out because so much natural nail plate is erupting, which increases the likelihood of something breaking.

Are Après Gel X Nail Extensions easy to remove at home?

You won’t even need assistance with this step if you’ve ever removed gel nail paint at home. To remove the topcoat and varnish from each nail, first trim the extensions as low as you can without damaging your natural nail. Then, use a high-grit nail file (or, even better, a drill file, if you have one). The next step is to remove the gel by using the conventional procedure: wrap each nail in foil, cover it with cotton or a paper towel, and soak it in acetone for 15 to 20 minutes.

When you’ve given them enough time to soak, those puppies should just slide off. At that point, you can scrape off any extra gel, file and polish your nails lightly, and you’re done. After doing this, it seems natural that your nails will be dry. To remedy this, I advise applying a cuticle oil right away (my personal favorites are CND’s Solar Oil and MiniLuxe’s Nourishing Cuticle Oil Rollerball).

Why should I use the Aprés Gel X Extension Kit?

The main benefit of having the Gel X Extension Kit at home, as I’ve already indicated, is the money I’ll save on buying salon-quality false nails. At no additional cost to me, I am able to do a set whenever I want. That’s more or less priceless, because who can spend $100 or more each time they have the desire for false nails? Certainly not me.

Additionally, these soft gel extensions offer the ideal compromise between press-on nails, which, while very useful in a pinch, don’t always last as long as I’d like them to, and extra-durable options, such as dip nails, acrylics, or hard gel, which force me to maintain manicures for longer than I ever want to and can be quite expensive and can frequently feel heavy.

The fact that the Aprés Gel X extensions are extremely thin and will stay that way unless you really load up on gel and other nail-art supplies and accessories like gems or charms is another major benefit of using them.

The only drawback to these extensions, according to Nuez, is that you can’t fill them in like acrylic or hard gel extensions after they grow out, forcing you to completely remove them and start over. If you’re not careful, this might damage your nails. The opportunity to alter your length and shape every two to three weeks is the biggest benefit, according to the woman. The drawback is that soaking them in acetone to remove them can be rather drying to the surrounding skin and natural nails.

However, Minerva contends that the time you can save will ultimately make it worthwhile. She says that Gel X’s speed, ease of use, and durability are its major benefits. “In the past, we had to apply, file, buff, and sculpt all extensions.” It took a while and was messy! “Everything is eliminated by this system.”

Personally, I wholeheartedly concur. Naturally, I won’t completely give up wearing artificial nails or going to salons, but I do have a much stronger urge to train as my own nail tech and master intricate nail art. Have you added a new creative hobby while saving time and money? Please and thank you, just give it everything to me.


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