gel nails for article

Don’t you just love the feeling of a new manicure? You walk out of the salon feeling all Marilyn-Monroe, but if you’re anything like me, you probably ruin those beautiful creations by the following day or so.

Enter: The Gel Manicure. Now you can have perfect, shiny nails for up to two weeks! It’s the working girl’s dream! But before you get too gaga over your new gel nails, there are some side effects to keep in mind.

When you think about it, gel polish is literally baked onto your fingernails using an ultraviolet (UV) light, and UV radiation is a risk factor for skin cancer. While you may think “Yeah, but it’s just on my hands, it’s not like I’m climbing into a tanning bed,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, hands are actually one of the most common places to find precancerous cells and lesions. In addition, the damage to the skin of the hand by the UV light can result in cosmetic change to the hand and add to aging effects (i.e. sunspots, sagging, ect.)

Not only is the application harmful, but getting a gel manicure removed can be rather troublesome as well. Most gel polishes require a 10-15 minute application of acetone before they start to come off. According to the American Academy of dermatology, frequent gel manicures can cause nail brittleness, as well as nail thinning and weakening, due to this long exposure to acetone.

So now that all the bad news is out of the way, is it bye-bye to gel manicures for good?

Well, in my personal opinion, the answer is no. As with most things fun and enjoyable, gel manicures simply need to come with a “use only in moderation” disclaimer. Yes, it can be harmful to your nails to get back-to-back gel manicures, but it can be harmful to get other nail service back to back, such as acrylics, as well. Your nails need time to breathe. But when it does come time to head to the salon before a big event or long vacation, I am most likely going to pick the manicure that’s going to last.

Another disclaimer that seems to accompany fun things is “enjoy responsibly.” I believe this applies to gel manicures as well. Why not slather on a little sunscreen before heading to the salon to protect your hands from the UV rays? Be sure to choose one with 30 SPF or higher. Better safe than sorry!

So if gel manicures are more your style, enjoy your long lasting flawless nails as a treat every once and a while! But when it’s time to say goodbye to them, just consider going “au natural” for a bit to let your nails recover.