Gel Nails – Are They Right For You?
OK, you’ve got me, as a clean beauty brand, gel nails are not our thing.
For us, the cons outweigh the pros but as I am often asked about gel and have heard some shocking nail bed stories, this blog gives a quick and simple run down and links to expert medical advice if you do choose gel.
Confession, I have never had gel nails. But I always try to have an open mind and look at the evidence and know many women who have tried them.
So naturally, I asked a few for their opinion (any excuse for a chat).
Like many things in beauty, my sense is that preferences and commercial interests play a role in what people on the web generally say about gel, but there are many independent dermatologists who also have a view.
So here goes.
Why choose gel nails?
In short, aesthetics and practicality.
I have spoken to a few women who enjoy the dramatic look of artificial, near perfectly shaped nails.
One attraction is the long-slender appearance they can give your hands which they see as elegant and feminine.
Gel manicures also provide the long-lasting colour some women want, especially those who work with their hands.
The number one attraction is durability and convenience. While you will experience some new nail growth at the base as your nail plate grows, gels last for 21 days. I am also told the level of gloss shine is very high if that is look you are after.
I have read some sources who say gels help your nails grow longer but frankly, I think some perspective is required and this potential benefit is a stretch given the cons below.
Breathable Super Food Infused Nail Polish
Why give gel a miss
In short, application, wear and removal of gel can be really tough on nails. Have you watched a nail technician at work removing or filing down the gel?
The American Academy of Dermatologists Association (AADA) paints a potentially grim picture saying ‘gel manicures can cause nail brittleness, peeling and cracking, and repeated use can increase the risk for skin cancer and premature skin aging on the hands’.
Innovation has led to different types of gels with different characteristics including hard and soft gels.
The AADA suggests considering ‘traditional nail polish instead of gel polish. This is especially important if you experience recurring nail problems or are allergic to acetone, as acetone is required to remove gel polish’.
Tips if you choose gel nails
- A major sticking point (excuse the pun) with gel was their removal. It is suggested to only soak your fingertips in the acetone soak-off process not your whole hands or fingers. Acetone is effective but leaves the skin and cuticles stripped and dry. It can take up to 15 minutes for the gel to come off (longer for powder gel) so techniques like wrapping a soaked cotton ball with foil around the nail may be worth a try.
- The C word is scary and controversial. The AAD recommends applying water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before getting a gel manicure to prevent skin cancer and premature skin aging. The say ‘this will help protect your skin from the ultraviolet radiation used to seal gel nail polish to the nail’.
However, the Australian Cancer Council notes that there is not strong research on nail salon lamps but ‘if in doubt, apply a broad spectrum SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen to your hands 20 minutes before they are exposed to UV light or use fingerless gloves
- Your nail needs to be nourished under the gel. Between polishes, apply a moisturiser to your nails and cuticles several times a day to minimize brittleness and help stop your nails from chipping. There are many scientific papers on the issues of weakness, thinning and brittleness that are worth a read.
- I am told when the colour begins to come off, there is a big temptation to pick at the polish or use other nails or tools to remove it. Bad idea! The adhesive nature of gel means they need to be taken off with care and the right chemicals. If possible, it is recommended to head back to the nail bar when you start feeling the urge to pick.
- You will know if your nails need a holiday, and I am told you need to give your nails time to repair between gels. Like most things, moderation is a blessing with gel. Unfortunately, relative to regular nail polish, many chemicals found in gels can cause sensitization and skin allergies. As I read in the Huffington Post, breaks between manicures of at least a week, but ideally a month, are recommended.
So there you have it. A quick gel run down.