The beauty of a gel manicure is that you can enjoy a glossy, chip-free nails for anywhere from two to three weeks. If you take proper care, that is.
While many professional gel polish formulations have been designed to withstand much more than your regular nail polish, if your manicure is chipping or lifting within a week, something needs to be changed.
So we spoke to Skye McIntyre, CND’s Education Ambassador, and manicurist Bernadette Leva to get their tips on how to ensure your gel manicure lasts as long as humanly possible.
In order for your gel manicure to last 14-plus days, McIntyre stresses the importance of keeping your nails and cuticles nourished. “I recommend using CND SolarOil® at least once a day – preferably at night before bed - and sealing it in with a good conditioning hand moisturiser, like CND™ Scentsations™ Hand Lotion. This will keep the nails and cuticles hydrated, along with drinking plenty of water.”
Conditioned nails is particularly important for those who tend to suffer from flaky nails, as Leva points out that “as your nails flake, the polish comes off with it. Applying cuticle oil daily minimises flaking.”
We also recommend essie apricot cuticle oil to help with that extra dose of nail nourishment.
Protect your hands and nails
You may think washing the dishes is a pretty innocuous task, but if you’re doing it sans gloves, you’re likely doing more damage than you think.
McIntyre explains, “Remember to always use gloves when washing up or cleaning, as over-exposure to chemicals can lead to product breakdown.” And when the formulation is compromised, that’s when it’ll chip or lift. Plus, cleansing products can be drying for the skin on your hands.
This one may not be incredibly surprising, but picking or chewing on your nails in all their glossy glory is a one-way ticket to a chipped manicure. But besides that, picking at your nails and removing the gel coat will compromise the health of them. “The more you pick the polish off, the thinner your nails will become,” says Leva.
Avoid cutting or filing
If your nails tend to grow quickly, and you feel like they’re getting too long between salon visits, McIntyre stresses that it’s not a great idea to trim or file your nails, as “you will break the seal of the gel polish which will result in lifting, peeling and splitting at the free edge. It is best you avoid doing this at all costs.”
In an ideal world, your nails would have been prepped 100 per cent properly before your gel polish application, and the painting of the formulation precise. But sometimes that isn’t always the case, and that’s when lifting happens. As Leva explains, “If the polish adheres to the cuticle when painted, as the nail grows it creates an edge that is lifted, which catches on everything.”
Her advice: “To prevent gel from lifting at the base, ensure that you are going to a skilled manicurist. If you’re doing it from home, prep your nails with a ‘waterless’ manicure, making sure cuticles are neat and the nail plate is squeaky clean and oil-free. When it comes to painting, paint as close to the cuticle as possible without hitting it.”
But if you do experience some lifting and want to ensure it’s not the end of your gel manicure, follow these steps from Leva. “Lightly buff the lifted edge and apply a clear top coat. This takes away that lifted edge that you want to pick at.”
Treat your nails as nails
We’re all guilty of using our nails as tools, whether that’s opening cans, pulling tape off boxes, picking off labels, or any other menial task where our nails are doing the hard work – and that’s a huge no-no when it comes to manicure care. “Use a tool to help you! With or without gel these actions can easily break your nails,” says Leva.
And just in case you need this point hammered home, McIntyre has some solid advice, “Nails are jewels NOT tools!”
Are you guilty of picking off your gel manicure because you can’t be bothered to go back to the salon to get it removed? We’ll withhold our judgement if you follow our tips on how to properly remove your gel manicure at home.
Carli is BEAUTYcrew’s Editor and has been since the site launched in 2016. She is currently on a quest to find the perfect medium-coverage foundation for combination skin, is trying to narrow down her mascara collection to just three, and is embracing the power of AHAs. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.