A gel manicure can leave your nails looking great, but it can also be hard on your nails and your hands. Gel manicures can cause nail brittleness, peeling and cracking, and repeated use can increase the risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging on the hands.
There are things you can do to keep your nails and skin healthy. To keep your nails healthy before, during and after gel manicures, dermatologists recommend the following tips:
- Be proactive with your manicurist: Ask if tools are sterilized, and look around to make sure he or she is cleaning and disinfecting tools after every client. In addition, never let your manicurist push or cut your cuticle, as this could lead to inflammation and infection.
- Consider traditional nail polish instead of gel polish: This is especially important if you experience recurring nail problems or are allergic to acetone, as acetone is required to remove gel polish.
- Wear sunscreen: Before getting a gel manicure, apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your hands to prevent skin cancer and premature skin aging. This will help protect your skin from the ultraviolet radiation used to seal gel nail polish to the nail. Another option is to put on dark, opaque gloves with the fingertips snipped off before your nail polish is applied.
- Don’t pick gel nail polish: When the color begins to come off, don’t pick at the polish or use other nails or tools to remove it. Instead, make an appointment with your manicurist to have the polish removed.
- Only soak your fingertips in acetone: When having the nail polish removed, only soak your fingertips in acetone instead of your whole hands or fingers to protect the surrounding skin. Another option is to use cotton balls to remove the polish. Soak the cotton balls in acetone and apply them to you nails by wrapping small pieces of aluminum foil around your fingertips. This will ensure that only your nails come into contact with the acetone. After about 15 minutes, the nail polish should come right off.
To care for your nails in between gel manicures, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Take a nail polish holiday: Try not to wear nail polish for one to two weeks or longer. This will allow your nails time to repair.
- Rehydrate your nails: Between polishes, apply a moisturizing product, such as petroleum jelly, to your nails and cuticles several times daily. This will minimize brittleness and help prevent your nails from chipping.
Rashes caused by a nickel allergy are not life-threatening, but they can be uncomfortable. If you think you have an allergy, or if you have a rash that blisters, becomes infected, or comes and goes, see a board certified dermatologist.
As is the case with most things, moderation is the key when it comes to gel manicures. Consider getting a gel manicure for special occasions only, and see a board-certified dermatologist if you notice any unusual changes to your nails or have a persistent nail problem.
Do you get gel manicures? Has it damaged your nails?
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– Allycia Wilson, Managing Editor
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