Updated: Aug 19
the past three weeks I've been doing na experiment testing the New Kiara Sky Gelly Tips and comparing them to the Aprés Gel-X.
First, a little background! There are few of these soft gel extensions that are available right now, but Aprés Gel-X is by far the most well known. Established in 2015, they have caused a massive spark in the nail industry, specifically the nail art industry. Nail techs are able to save time on building the nail and focus more on the art.
In the time that I have been aware of the Gel-X, the common complaint I have seen is in regards to the price. Well, At the end of February, Kiara Sky, which is know for their gel colors and dip powders, released their own version of a soft gel tip, Gelly Tips, at a competitive price. So I purchased two different shaped tips to compare to my Gel-X tips to see if the difference in price is worth it.
So I'll start with some information on the Gel-x tips. The Gel-X kit comes with the PH Bonder, the Gel Primer, the Extend Gel, the Top Gelcoat, a Miniature LED Light, a 100 Nail File, the carrying case and your choice of tips. For all the components, the cost is $107.50 + the cost of the box of tips you choose. the tips range from $31.29 for short shapes, $34.99 for Medium Shapes, and $37.49 for Long Shapes. They also have option between Sculpted and natural for a total of 14 different shape/length combinations. For the Gel-X tips, I personally have the Sculpted Long Coffin, Natural Medium Coffin, Natural Medium Stiletto, and Natural Long Stiletto.
Now for the Gelly Tips. The Gelly Tips Kit comes with Prep, Primer, Builder, Top Coat, Beyond Pro Flash Cure Mini Lamp, and your choice of Gelly Tips shape. For all this, the cost is $109.99. There is a total of 5 different tips to choose from; 2 lengths and 4 shapes. For the Tips, I purchased The Long Coffin and the Medium Almond to compare then to the Gel-X tips I already owned. something to point out with the Gelly tips. You do not have an option between sculpted/Natural. Only the Long coffin are sculpted, the other shapes are natural.
Now for the comparison! I first did the test with the Medium Almond Gelly Tips, comparing them to the Natural Medium Stiletto Gel-X. I rounded off the points on the stiletto tip to match the almond shape since I was wearing these for a while. I applied some simple nail art, of course, by using Scratch nail wraps made by @ninanailedit over Kiara sky Cheeky. The next week, I did the same test with the Long coffin with some encapsulated glitters and a Scattered Holo Taco over the top. The two fingers on the left (pointer and middle) are Gelly Tips, The two fingers on the right (ring and Pinky) are Gel-X.
For the comparison, I compared side by side the tips, application process, week long wear, and removal.
The tips of both products are very similar, providing sizes 0-9 with an empty slot for 00 sizes. Both Boxes of tips have 500 pieces with 50 pieces of the 10 sizes. Gel-X has the option to buy individual refill packs with 50 pieces of a specific size 0-9 and 00 of select shapes. At this time, Gelly Tips are only sold in the box set. for the Box itself, the Gel-X box is a more heavy duty box with thicker plastic and, in my opinion, a better click shut. This would only really effect you if you were to travel with the boxes. If they box of tips where to open while traveling from client to client, you would really not want to spend the time sorting them back by size.
One of the first things I noticed with the Gelly Tips is the smell. When you open the box, there is a strong plastic smell that comes from the tips that you don't get from the Gel-X tips. Unfortunately, neither product list the specific ingredients that make up the TIPS, so we are not able to compare to see where the smell comes from.
Next, comparing the tips side by side, I noticed that the Gelly Tips feel a bit thinner than Gel-X. I was able to bend the tip more towards the back. Personally, I like the thicker tip of the Gel-X, but I know some techs will apply bend the tip to fit those clients who are in between a natural and sculpted tip. Comparing the APex of each tip in the images below (Left: Gel-X, Right: Gelly Tips), Both sets are similar in height, Gel-X being the smallest bit taller on the sculpted Long Coffin. Looking at the back end of the tip, the part that goes close to the cuticle, the Gel-X curve down a bit further. This creates a better transition to the natural nail, allowing longer wear and less risk of lifting. I found that this small difference in the tips made a big difference in application and week long wear.
now look at the tip of each tip. The almond Gelly Tip does not go down as far, which you can see by the gap between the tip and my desk in both the side view above and the front view below. Despite the Gel-X being stiletto and Gelly Tip being Almond, I would expect to the the tip of both come down to free edge point. so overall the shape of the almond Gelly tips does not feel complete.
The coffin gel-X tip has a much tighter C-curve to it then the Gelly Tip, which contributes to the height difference you can see in the side view. This one, In my opinion, is just a preference. It is more popular in current nail trends to have the tighter C-curve, but it does not cause and structural difference to the nail.
The Process is almost identical for both products. They are as follows
Size out tips
Buff the natural nail
Apply the dehydrater
apply the PH bonder
Apply a thing layer of Extend Gel/Builder and cure for 30 seconds (LED)
etch the inside of the tip to better adhere
apply extend gel/builder to the underside of the tip, enough to cover the natural nail
Firmly press the tip onto the nail using your thumb, making sure the extend gel/builder flows to the free edge
cure for 10 seconds (LED) rotating the mini lamp around the nail to cure all edges
Repeat with all nails
cure full hand for 30 seconds (LED) once all tips are applied
For the coffin tips, the process was very similar, the only difference being that the Gelly Tips are slightly thinner. despite that, I did not find anything that makes me prefer one over the other.
While applying the almond/stiletto tips, I found that the shape difference in the tips caused some trouble with the Gelly Tips. First, it was very hard to apply on my nails. Since the back of the tip stands up a bit higher, it was harder to get that end to be flush with the natural nail while still keeping the rest of the tip in line with the nail. When I would place the base of the tip on my nails, it would stand up and not lay flat. So, Unfortunately, I was not able to make a seamless transition from tip to natural nail and had to fill with the builder. I believe this may partially be caused by the "natural shape" of the almond nails. Gel-X definitely has the Gelly Tips beat here. Every nail is shaped differently and will need a different shaped tip. Since Gel-X offers both natural and sculpted for the shapes, you have options. Someones nail beds may be more flat and required a natural while another persons could be very arched and need a sculpted. You should not have to limit yourself to a specific nail shape based on the shape of your nail bed.
Week Long Wear:
Since these are soft gel, it is important to note one thing. After wearing for a while, the shape will dull a lot. Acrylic and hard gel are much harder and will keep their shape better overtime.
Both Gelly Tips and Gel-x did dull a bit; Gelly tips a bit more than Gel-X. For the coffin, you will not have the hard lines that you did when applying; the corners start to round from wear. For almond/stiletto, the point will not be as distinct. Almond is my favorite shape, which is why I like the Gel-X stiletto so much because some wear to them, the tip softens and becomes closer to the true almond shape.
After the week, I noticed on the Almond Gelly Tips that the base of the tip started to lift where I filled it in because of the shape. Most was attached to the nail but there was a slight lip that came up on the base. This would get caught on everything; clothes and hair being the two big ones. Note, that this did not happen with any of the Gel-x tips during this side by side wear.
On the following week with the coffin tips, I felt as if the Gelly Tips and Gel-X had little differences. Neither tip lifted or did anything else to compromise the integrity of the nail. I do think the Gelly tips dulled a lot faster than the gel-x on this shape. I'm not sure if I just noticed it more on the coffin set or the almond dulled fast as well.
This was similar in both products. I did notice that the Gelly tips required less soak time and overall removed quicker than than the Gel-X. This is likely because, as I mentioned above, they are a bit thinner.
Comparing all points, I personally prefer the Gel-X. I think the Gelly tips are noticeably lower quality. To me, I would rather pay a little more to get the higher quality product of Gel-X. I also think that the Gelly Tips are very limited with the shapes and natural/sculpted. Nails are not a one size fits all type of thing; everyones nail bed are unique to them. Gel-X has significantly more options to find the right shape for your nails. Aprés has spent years in developing and perfecting the soft gel extension. It is there main product and cant spending most of their resources specializing in it. to me, it feels that Kiara Sky wanted to get in on a new trendy product in the industry. They cannot give the time and attention that Aprés does, leading the Gelly tips not being as good. Its almost as if Gel-X feel like high end salon quality, while Gelly tips feel like the quick DIY at home version.
I just wanted to say that these are my opinions on the two products. I am lucky enough to be able to try both products to do this comparison. I had a lot of fun applying, wearing, and comparing throughout the weeks. If you have tried either product, I would love to hear your opinion!