Gel manicures are popular amongst fans of having polished nails for several reasons. One, they look fabulous. Two, they dry relatively quickly. And three, they are far more long-lasting than regular manicures, so your nails will look like they belong in stock photos for beauty for weeks at a time.
If you’re going to be spending time and money on gel manicures, you’d better make sure you’re not risking the health of your nails as well. Here are several precautions you can take to ensure that gel manicures don’t cause any damage to your nails.
Keep it hydrated
But not with water! Massage fingers and fingernails with cuticle oil or coconut oil to soften the cuticles, prevent hangnails, and keep the hands soft. This is especially important on the night before getting a gel manicure to prep the nails, and after removal to help minimize damage.
Ask for IBX
IBX is the ideal basecoat as it protects the nails from the chemicals while simultaneously repairing the top layers of the nail plate. If your manicurist doesn’t have it, you might want to consider investing on your own and taking it with you to the appointment.
It might seem like an odd tip until you realize that UV lights are used to seal the gel on the nails and shorten drying time. This exposes the skin on your fingers to ultraviolet radiation, which as we all know is not healthy. It won’t necessarily put you at risk for skin cancer but frequent exposure will cause premature photoaging. As such, apply a generous amount of sunscreen on your hands before your appointment at the salon. Better yet, ask if they have the option of LED curing instead of using UV driers.
Have it removed by a professional…
Once the polish starts to chip, resist the urge to pick at it. Cracked nail polish is not a good look on anyone, but you’re just going to have to deal with it until you’re able to go to the salon and have it removed by a professional. This isn’t a money-grubbing scam either – peeling off gel polish will aggravate the nail beds, leave your nails thin and brittle, and may leave you with nails that have unsightly white spots and irregular textures.
…or remove it properly yourself
Unable to make an appointment or find it too costly? You can still safely remove it at home using a nail polish remover with a high acetone percentage. Tear up cotton balls into nail-sized pieces and soak them with acetone. Place the cotton balls on your nails, avoiding too much contact with the surrounding skin, and keep them in place by wrapping aluminium foil around the fingertips. The gel polish should come off with 15 minutes up to an hour, depending on the brand of gel polish used and the application.
Coloured nails are beautiful but there’s no reason you should go au naturel every once in a while. During this time, it’s important to keep using moisturizing products such as cuticle oil to nourish the nails.