Gel manicures are a godsend for women. In about 30 minutes, give or take, you can have shiny nails that last for seven days or longer. But, the removal process is annoying—you have to sit there and let your nails soak in acetone, which can dry out your fingers and sting or burn if you have hangnails or cuts. Some nail experts say getting gel manicures regularly can actually damage your nails; others disagree.
While the jury is still out, it’s not a bad idea to give your nails a break from gel manis every now and then. “When it comes to gel manicures, the way your gels are removed, how long you leave them on for and how often you give your nails a rest all determine whether or not gel can be damaging to your nails,” says Sarah Gibson Tuttle, founder and CEO of Olive & June nail salon in Beverly Hills. “Most salons remove gels in a harmful way because they are rushing to remove the gel and either file or buff the nails harshly. Or, a pusher is used to remove the polish, which can take off your nail bed, too.”
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Because gel polish can dehydrate nails, Tuttle says its important to let your nails breathe every few weeks. “Even if your manicure still looks good after two weeks, the health of your nails can start to suffer.” And, if you’re one that gets gels at every manicure for months on end, then it’s definitely a good idea to take a break from time to time. “Taking a pause from gels every four to five months allows your nails to stay healthy.”
If you’re addicted to gel polish, the best way to slowly ease out of using it for a period of time is to switch up your manicures every few weeks from gel to one that uses regular polish. “But, be mindful of how your gel polish is removed and nail maintenance and promise yourself that you’ll take a two week break two times per year. If you can, try wearing no polish and loading up on cuticle oil,” says Tuttle. “You can also try gel polish alternatives like CND Vinylux and Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, which are great options for longer-lasting polish.”
The only time Tuttle says you should stop using gel polish immediately is if you pick the polish off your nails. “I tell those clients to stop getting gel manis. It’s too harsh on your nail beds and picking the polish off really weakens them. I know it’s fun to do, but it’s awful for your nails.”
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