Gel manicures continue to grow in popularity as the word spreads about their longevity, perfect shine and quick dry time. Salons push them because they cost a little more than regular polish manis, and you may feel pressured to give gel a try. But if you value health over beauty, or even if you give them both equal ranking, you should be aware of the down side of gel.
The Dark Side of Gel Nail Polish
- Gel can be rough on your nails, causing brittleness, cracking, peeling and thinning of the nail plate.
- As nails grow out, gel can peel away at the base, leaving a portal for water, bacteria and fungus.
- Repeated exposure to the UV lights used to cure gel polish can lead to cancer and premature hand aging.
- Acetone used to remove gel polish can dry your nails and cuticles, and some people are allergic to it.
Be Proactive in Nail Care
If you are still intent on getting a gel mani, there are some measures you can take to protect your skin and nails to reduce damage:
- Apply sunscreen or wear gloves to protect your skin from UV damage. Use a sunscreen with a high SPF and apply it to your hands and the backs of your wrists before your mani. Alternately, snip off the tips of a pair of dark-colored gloves to protect your hands during the curing process.
- Choose a salon that uses only sterilized tools. Look for a displayed current license, and observe carefully to see if technicians clean tools and equipment properly between clients. Bring your own tools to be extra safe.
- Say no to cuticle cutting and aggressive pushing back of your cuticles. Cuticles are there to protect your nails against infection, and to promote healthy growth.
- Consider sticking with traditional polish, or use a gel alternative like Duri’s Durilaq gel-like polish and top coat. A good top coat like Duri Miracote will make your traditional polish last just as long as gels, provided you don’t abuse your nails by using them as tools.
- Resist the urge to pick at your gel polish as your nails grow out. Doing so will damage the nail bed and created a gap for infection to creep in. Peeling it off will also remove the top layer of your nail plate, leaving your nails thin and vulnerable.
- Take a nail polish holiday. Your nails need to breathe once in a while. Take a break from polish to restore nail health.