The Inhibition Layer

What is it?
The inhibition layer is the ‘tacky/sticky’ surface left on a gel polish layer following curing. The oxygen in the air inhibits the surface layer of the polish from curing, leaving behind a sticky, un-cured residue.

Do we need it?
With your base/foundation coat – yes. A Gel Polish base coat is like a double sided sticky tape. Adhering on one side to your natural nail and your first colour coat on the other. The colour coat does require this ‘tacky’ layer of the cured base coat in order to ‘stick’.
So, if you ever come to do your colour coat but find there’s a lump or gritty part embedded in your base coat (this can sometimes happen especially if you have scrubbed base coat into de-laminated free edge layers), you’re going to need to cleanse the inhibition layer, buff the bump away, dust and cleanse then reapply your base and cure before moving onto your colour.

With subsequent colour layers and top coat – nope! and thank goodness because that would make nail art much trickier! Many nail art techniques require the inhibition layer to cleansed away before painting, stamping, etc. So long as you are applying your next layer onto a cured colour or top coat layer, don’t worry – it’ll stick!

No-Wipe Top Coats
Some top coats don’t leave behind any residue that requires cleansing. These kind of top coats are especially handy for Sugared Nails where you are not able to use a cleanser after such art.

Use it for Nail Art!
Great nail art can be achieved by making the most of the sticky inhibition layer. Use it to adhere nail foils and loose glitters! On the other hand, some gel polish lines don’t have much on an inhibition layer, at all. In this case, you can add another layer of base coat and cure to create the same ‘sticky’ effect. Base coat will always provide stick.
The role it plays in Contact Dermatitis
When you are cleansing the inhibition layer from your manicured nails, be sure to use a fresh wipe, at least per hand. Be wary of swiping the wipe over the inhibition layer and then up and onto the skin of the finger. This may seem insignificant, but with 2/3 weekly appointments, your client could easily develop contact dermatitis to gel polish, acrylic and associated ingredients due to repetitive over exposure.