Expert Speak: Are Gel Manicures REALLY Bad For Your Nails?

Kannagi Desai

Junior Beauty Editor

As I have mentioned numerous times before, I’m a lazy girl. So if I can find something that will make me look presentable without putting in a frequent effort I am all for it. Gel manicures for me are one such saviour. A gel manicure uses a more semi-permanent polymer to paint your nails that once cured with UV light, lasts without chipping or fading for almost two to three weeks until your nails grow and the cuticles are visible.

I have been getting a gel manicure on and off for the past three years and while I haven’t faced any grave issues with this treatment, people keep asking me about the side effects. There are so many awful stories I have heard and so many bad gel nail paint experiences keep popping up, so finally, I decided to get some answers. Let’s find out if gel manicures are really bad for you!

1 gel manicure

The UV light is really NOT as harmful as people make it out to be.

The UV light used to cure the gel nail paint doesn’t increase your affinity to get skin cancer. “Even if you were to have a gel manicure every week, it wouldn’t increase your chances to get skin cancer regardless of it being a UVA light or a LED lamp,” assures Dr. Jamuna Pai, cosmetic physician and founder of Skin Lab. But as a dermatologist, she still suggests that you apply a sunscreen 15 minutes before you go in for gel nails. You can also wear fingerless gloves so the skin around the nail isn’t affected.

There are different types of gels that can determine the harm that they do.

There are hard gels and soft gels. The hard gel is old school which cannot be dissolved by acetone and would need rigorous filing to completely remove thus damaging the nail beds. But soft gels are practically like nail paint and of course, come off when soaked in alcohol for a while.

2-gel manicure

Unfortunately, yes, gel manicures do mess with your nails.

“There is research done and results have shown that gel manicures do contribute towards the thinning of nails. The research is not definitive enough to know if the thinning is used due to the acetone soak used to remove the gel or the composition of the gel nail paint for sure,” says Pai. She also adds that there is a right or wrong way to remove gel nail paints and that you should steer clear of doing this at home and get a professional involved.

Breaks are good.

I know you’re thinking that I am trying to discourage you from getting a gel manicure, but no. All I want to tell you is that you need to take regular breaks. “ If you are someone who is worried about your nail health then make sure you take a break and let your nails rejuvenate in between gel manicure sessions. It's best to alternate between gel nail paint and regular nail paint to ensure nail health,” says Dr. Kavita Sheth, owner of Kavi’s Nail Care, Mumbai.

There are some pros too!

It isn’t all bad guys! Gel manicures lend support to your nails and make them stronger. While yes there is exposure to UV light it is at the rate of 20-30 seconds, which is minimal. Our nails are porous in nature so the gel manicure membrane actually helps nails absorb less water and remain hard.

I am a gel manicure lover, and with the right care and the right knowledge, your nails will flourish with gel nail paints too!


Internal Images: Shutterstock

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Published on Mar 14, 2018
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