Just Say NO to Gel Manicures

You’ve heard of it, right? Gel? Shellac? The nail polish that dries with a UV light and stays on for two weeks?

I’ve even been known to sing the praises of the gel manicure.

gel manicure

But not anymore.

Gel manicures have ruined my nails.

(I have also tried Shellac — I do not find a big difference between the two. When I say “gel manicure,” I am referring to gel or Shellac.)

At first, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, I knew it couldn’t be good for you. I’ve heard that the UV lights may be a cancer risk, and if the nail polish itself doesn’t wreck havoc on your delicate nails, the removal process sure does. (To remove gel nail polish, they soak your nails in acetone for about 15 minutes and then if it doesn’t peel right off – as it is supposed to, but rarely does – then they use a sharp instrument to pry it off, and then oftentimes file your nails down, trying to remove all the remnants.)

Every time I go through this process, I sit there and think, This can’t be good.

But oh, the lure of a manicure that lasts for two weeks . . .

So I kept going back.

When I started getting gel manicures, I could get a few in a row, and my nails would be gorgeous for a few months. Then I’d take a break and let my nails recover. I didn’t mind. I could go on a vacation or get through holiday season without having to worry about chips and splits, and it was wonderful.

But then the last few times I got a gel manicure, one time was all it took. It would come off and leave my nails thin, peeling, splitting.

And it did this nasty thing to my nail beds — they would recede and the white part would go deep into my nail, almost halfway down towards the cuticle. I am so mad at myself for not taking a photo to show you how horrific my nails have looked!!! I kept meaning to and never got around to it.

The last time I had a gel manicure taken off, and my nails were like paper, and the whites were receding, I had a regular manicure at a blogging event. She looked at my nails and said, “You’ve been hard on your nails!” We got to talking, and when I asked her about the gel manicures, she wasn’t a fan. She told me the receding whites of my nails is due to “trauma” and they just had to grow out. She determined that it was probably from the way the nail technicians removed the polish so roughly. She said she sees it all the time and basically confirmed to me that the gel manicures were ruining my nails.

That was it for me. I quit the gel and FINALLY, after 2 months of going without any polish, my nails are almost back to their typical healthy state. I’m finally not embarrassed to show my hands in public!

I am done with gel manicures. I will use regular old fashioned chip-in-a-day nail polish or nothing.


5/18/2016 UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I have started going to a high end nail salon where they do gel manicures properly. They are still hard on the nails, as the gel polish tends to be drying, but with faithful use of CND Solar Oil and a nail tech who uses proper gel removal techniques, my nails can withstand gel manicures now. YAY!

Some of my favorite CND nail polish colors right now are: Studio White, Winter Glow, and Creekside. They are available in Vinylux (not gel) as well as the Shellac.