How to Prep and Care for a Gel Manicure

Gel Manicure feature

Are gel nail polishes the answer for cost-effective manicures?

The vibrant colors and chip-free polished finish may make gel manicures worth the extra dollars you pay at the salon. Gel is used to bind synthetic fingernails to natural ones and then a colored gel polish is painted over the synthetic nail. Between each step of applying the polish, your nails are placed under a UV lamp for a few minutes to harden the polish. This helps the manicure last longer—about 14 days—without any chipping. Here are some helpful tips for caring for your skin and nails when getting a gel manicure. – Tiffany Ayuda

1. Apply sunscreen before getting a gel manicure. Many people have concerns about the skin cancer risks of applying UV light on your hands to harden the polish. Although the Skin Cancer Foundation has said that the risks for skin cancer are not significant for gel manicures, it is recommended that you apply sunscreen on your hands and wrists before getting one of these manicures. Many nail salons now offer sunscreen to their customers, so don’t be afraid to ask for some. Moreover, new brands of gel nail polish like Gelish and OPI’s GelColor use LED lamps, which have no skin cancer risk and can harden nails in 30 seconds.

2. Moisturize your hands and cuticles after a manicure. Because your hands will be under a UV or LED lamp during the manicure, the heating effects may be drying, so be sure to apply lotion or oil, like olive oil, on your hands and cuticles after the manicure. If you get a gel manicure at a salon, they will apply lotion and oil to your hands after your nails are done.

3. Remove the gel polish with 100% pure acetone. Gel nail polishes are removed by soaking your nails in 100% pure acetone. Apply acetone to cotton balls and place them on your nails, then wrap each of your fingers in aluminum foil with the acetone-soaked cotton balls. Let your nails soak in the acetone for about 10 minutes and slowly remove the foil from your fingers without unwrapping it. You should be able to peel off the gel polish from your nails at this point. If not, then you should let your nails soak in the aluminum foil for a little longer. Be sure to give your nails a break and let them harden and strengthen for about two weeks before you have another gel manicure.


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