There are infinite merits to choosing a gel manicure over a conventional manicure, not the least of which is maintaining that covetable freshly groomed, glossy appearance weeks after leaving the salon. However, the aforementioned advantages also come with the downside of often having to figure out how to repair damaged nails after a gel manicure. Gel devotees also pay a heftier price for lasting manicure than the simple $50 cost; in fact, many aficionados report withered, weakened tips after removing their gels. Nail damage occurs from gel manicures due to the strength of their formulas and the methods utilized to remove the polish from nails. Gel polish formulas are manufactured to harden in response to UV exposure, creating a durable coating over nails for two or more weeks when applied correctly.
After the requisite two or three weeks, nail professionals suggest scheduling a gel removal appointment, where nails are soaked in acetone to give the gel a more malleable consistency before it can be prized from the nail surface. In some circumstances, gel polish is filed away or scraped off of the nail. Lastly, there is the least advisable removal method: Peeling each gel off your fingers with no adult supervision. No gel removal method is particularly enticing, and in fact most are downright cringeworthy. Post-gel nails are often splintery, rough in texture, and at the worst of times, jagged.
The solution to woefully desecrated tips is a regimen of what might be called extreme pampering. If you treat gel-torn nails as you would troubled skin, your hands can achieve the appearance of digits that have never seen a UV light. After trimming your nails as short as possible without inflicting further pain, create a multi-step routine for your nails.
Treating Your Nails with Products
1. Moisturize your nails.
Moisture will help your nails recover after a gel manicure, which strips them of a lot of their natural moisture. You can buy nail moisturizer at a local beauty supply store or department store. You should apply a nail moisturizer each day. Apply it to your nails and the skin around them.
- Look for a fortifying nail and cuticle cream that contains peptide, which hydrates and strengthens nails.
- As washing your hands dries out your nails, apply moisturizer each time you wash your hands.
2. Soak your nails once a week.
Once a week, soak your nails in warm milk. Milk will whiten your nails, removing color residue. It will also strengthen your nails as they absorb the milk’s nutrients.
- Warm your milk in a bowl, using enough milk to submerge your nails. You can microwave your milk or warm it over the stove.
- Soak your nails for five minutes and then rinse them.
- Moisturize your nails when you’re done.
3. Buff your nails.
After nails have a gel manicure, they may have ridges and other uneven edges. It’s important to use a nail buffer to smooth out nails, focusing particularly on ridges. Do so every other day until your nails have healed.
- Buffing also promotes blood circulation, which can strengthen nails.
4. Use keratin gloves.
You can buy keratin gloves at a beauty supply store or online. They are an excellent means to strengthen nails after a gel manicure. Use the gloves for the time recommended on the package. The gloves can be worn during leisurely activities, like reading and watching television.
Keeping Your Nails Strong
5. Use a nail strengthener.
This works well if you don’t prefer polished nails. Instead of going for colorful nails, or more gel products, apply a clear, strengthening product after your gel manicure. You can find many clear strengtheners at drug and beauty stores. Look for strengtheners labeled “for problem nails.”
6. Keep your nails short.
If you let your nails grow out immediately after a gel manicure, they will be more prone to breaking or snagging. Trim your nails short while recovering from a gel manicure.
- Round your nails as well, as this is the strongest shape. Do not use sawing gestures when filing. Instead, use gentle swipes to file in one direction.
7. Protect your nails.
If your nails are not recovering as fast as you want, have another manicure done. Tell the manicurist you’re looking to protect your nails from damage. They will able to give you the right treatment to keep your nails strong while they recover from a gel manicure.
8. Eat a healthy diet.
Your eating habits can actually affect nail strength, so healthy eating after a manicure is key. Make sure to get sufficient amounts of protein, biotin, and calcium.
- Low-fat dairy foods can be a great source of protein and calcium.
- You can also opt for supplements if you’re worried. Talk to your doctor first, however.
- Some evidence indicates Jell-O makes nails grow faster, so stock up on Jell-O if you like it.
Avoiding Bad Habits
9. Do not peel off your manicure.
If your manicure is beginning to peel and crack, it can be tempting to pull it off. However, this will cause more damage to your nails. If you want to remove your manicure, either make a new appointment or call the salon and ask for removal instructions.
10. Take a break from gel polish on occasion.
Gel polish can be fun, but when used too much it can seriously affect nail health. Take a break on the gel polish once in awhile so your nails can adequately heal.
- Think about getting a keratin manicure between gel manicures.
11. Do not cut your cuticles.
Push back your cuticles after a gel manicure instead of cutting them. Your cuticles protect new nails that are growing, so they’re vital for recovery after a gel manicure.
- You should also treat your cuticles to cuticle creams and gels during the recovery process.
12. Remove your manicure safely.
Proper removal will help keep your nails strong. Before you remove your polish, buff your nails with a nail file to remove the shine on top so you just barely see the natural nail beneath them. Then, soak a cotton ball in acetone-based polish remove and secure to your nail using an adhesive like tape. Leave the ball in place for 15 minutes. Do this for each finger.
- If there’s any remaining nail polish, push it off using a cuticle pusher.