It’s incredibly frustrating to get a fresh manicure only to have it smudge before it dries, or chip the day after your appointment. For this reason gel manicures have become increasingly popular among women. 1 Gel manicures are guaranteed to last 2 to 4 weeks without chipping.1 However, if you think this is too good to be true, it may be.
It’s important to understand why gel manicures last so long, why they don’t chip, and the risks of getting them on a regular basis. Once you learn more about gel manicures, you may find it better to deal with chipping nail polish.
The Truth About Gel Manicures and Fingernail Health
Gel manicures have been linked to nail brittleness and thinning, as well as skin irritation around the nail. This is due to the fact that gel polishes are comprised of a formula that studies indicate can be damaging to your fingernails and toenails. The only way to remove gel nail polish is with a 10 to 15 minute acetone soak.1 As you can imagine, applying harsh chemicals is a recipe for thin, brittle, cracked nails.
On top of this, ultraviolet lamps are used to set the gel polish. After the gel has been applied, you generally hold your hands under the UV lamp for 90 seconds. Additionally, this process is typically repeated 3-4 times until the gel is completely dry. This frequent exposure to UV light may increase your risk for skin cancer or skin damage around your nails.1
Beyond actual damage to your body, colorful gel manicures prevent you from being able to properly assess your nails’ condition. If you can’t see beneath the gel, it will be nearly impossible to spot infections that could be developing under your nails.
It is understandable that gel manicures are desirable, and it’s realistic to suppose that most women prefer to treat themselves to one every so often. However, many experts advise limiting the frequency of gel manicures, and alternating between gel treatments and at-home polish applications, leaving plenty of time in between for your nails to heal.