Gel manicures are a way to have a glossier, longer-lasting manicure. Many people turn to them to reduce the chipping, cracking, and peeling often accompanying more traditional manicures.
What is a gel manicure, and how does it differ from regular manicures?
Instead of standard nail polish, a nail technician applies a soft gel over the top of the nail that is cured under an LED or UV light. A chemical reaction called polymerization hardens the soft liquid gel, curing it to the prized hard layer. A residual sticky layer occurs due to oxygen inhibiting the top layer’s cure. Rubbing alcohol on a lint-free cloth removes the stickiness. The gel polish produces a high shine while treating the natural nails gently.
Gel manicures differ from regular (basic) manicures, which use regular nail polish with one or two color coats between a base and topcoat and do not require curing under an LED or UV light. Depending on the salon, 2 to 4 layers of gel may be used with gel manicures, with each requiring curing under the light for 30 to 60 seconds. One benefit of a gel manicure is that your nails dry considerably faster, allowing you to leave the salon as soon as the manicure is complete and the topcoat is cured.
Basic manicures are quicker to complete and do not damage the nails. The polish is easily removed with acetone or nail polish remover. Removing gel nail polish is different, and it is best to have it professionally removed by a nail technician. Filing down the top layer and soaking it for a while in acetone is required to remove the gel polish. Never peel off the gel polish, as that can damage the nails.
Why Is Gel Manicure Popular?
Gel manicures are popular for many reasons. They help reduce chipping, breaking, and peeling. If a nail chips, you can file it down, filling in the polish with a similar color until you can return to the salon.
Some people turn to at-home gel nail polishes, which do not require salon application and UV curing. While the results will not last as long as a salon gel manicure, they will last longer than traditional nail polish. The downside is that instructions must be followed accurately, or nail damage could occur.
Here are some of the reasons why people love gel manicures:
Traditional acrylic nail polish lasts up to seven days but may start chipping or peeling within a few days. Gel polish manicures are more durable and can last from ten days to three weeks without chipping, thanks to their cured, hardened shell.
- Does not fade like regular nail polish
The gloss of a gel manicure lasts longer than with regular nail polish. Your nails will have that “super shiny, just polished” look longer.
- Creativity and unique patterns
Gel nail polish is highly versatile, lending to creative patterns and designs. Because it is easier to apply than regular polish, gel polish allows for colorful designs that are fully cured and dried before the next layer is applied.
- Neat nail look
Because they are long-lasting, gel manicures keep the nail looking neat longer. The curing process provides a protection barrier for the nails, especially if they are prone to breakage.
- Dries quickly
The curing process under lights helps the gel polish dry fast, getting you out of the salon and back to your day. Fast drying also helps resist that unexpected finger bump against something – especially your car keys or seat belt.
When your nails look good, it helps with self-confidence. We tend to use our hands when we talk, gesture, and in many actions in our daily lives. People often notice the nails. Chipped and damaged nails may leave you feeling upset with how they look.
Our self-esteem can also suffer from some emotional issues. Hormonal imbalance has a significant impact on that, too. HGH deficiency can lead to anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. Discover how HGH influences your mental health and what are the benefits of HGH.
What Are Possible Health Concerns?
Gel manicures are not without risk. Significant concerns exist, and you want to ensure you go to a reputable salon for your manicure. One of the biggest problems is from UV rays from the curing lights. Reducing time spent under the lamps is crucial. Breathing in the chemical fumes at a nail salon can cause health problems for some people. Wearing a mask can reduce those risks.
Here are some possible health concerns to know before your manicure:
- Nail infections and paronychia
Any manicure can cause inflammation of the nail folds, including bordering tissue at the sides and roots of the nail, resulting in infections. Yeast, fungi, and bacterial staph infections can also occur, especially if proper cleanliness standards are not in place. Avoid cutting the cuticles to minimize this risk.
- Skin cancer
UV lights emit ultraviolet rays directly into the skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer, especially non-melanoma skin cancer. LED lights are thought to be better because the curing time is shorter. However, their UVA rays are more intense. Some medications, including oral contraceptives, antibiotics, and cholesterol, make you more sensitive to UV light. UV exposure adds up over time, so the more manicures you get, the greater your risk of skin cancer.
- Nail thinning
Improper removal of gel polish can lead to nail thinning or damage. Prolonged exposure to acetone to remove the gel polish can also thin and crack the nails.
- Early skin aging on hands
Using UV lights to dry and cure the gel polish increases skin damage that can result in rapid aging and age spots. UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells and can cause the cells to die.
- Nail plate damage
Some issues with the nail plate could include thickening, discoloration, swelling, or pain around the nails.
A gel manicure can help you enjoy beautiful nails for up to three weeks. However, it is essential to ensure you take proper precautions to protect your nails, hands, and skin from damage. Do not get a manicure if your skin has scratches, cuts, or wounds.
Remember that many LED lamps include UVA or UVB radiation, so check what the salon uses. LED is not always better than UV lamps; try to limit the time under the lights to the minimum.
Make sure that the salon sterilizes all tools after each client. Cuticle damage from pushing and cutting can lead to infection and inflammation. People with acetone allergies should not use gel polish, as that is the required method of removal.
Apply SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to your hands at least 15 minutes before your manicure to help protect the skin from UV light damage. You can also wear an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) dark glove without fingertips during the manicure.
Never pick at or peel gel polish off your fingers, as that can damage the nails. It is best to have an experienced manicurist remove the polish. When removing the gel polish, ensure that only your fingertips are in the acetone, not the entire fingers, to protect your skin. You can also place acetone-soaked cotton balls on your nails and wrap them in aluminum foil for 15 minutes to remove the polish.
Consider letting your nails rest without polish for at least one or two weeks between manicures. Make sure to moisturize your cuticles and nails daily. Alert a dermatologist if you notice anything concerning or changes to your nails or skin.