8 Things To Know About Gel Manicures

8 Things To Know About Gel Manicures

Gel manicures promise longevity, extra gloss and minimal chipping. Before you get one, there are some key things to consider. From the importance of aftercare to how they can help healthier growth, Jessica nail expert and beauty entrepreneur, Susan Gerrard, tells us everything you need to know…

1. There Are Two Ways To Cure Gel Nails

Painted on like regular polish, gels are then cured with a UV or LED light to lock them in for longer. An LED lamp cures nails up to four times faster than a standard UV lamp, which can take one to two minutes. UVs also have some scary side effects – think dark spots and wrinkles – although these are more common in frequent gel users. Most salons and products use LED now, but be sure to check before your appointment.

2. Preparation Is Key

Gels are known for their long-lasting qualities, but they’re less likely to stay put if the nail isn’t prepped correctly. Whether it’s you or a manicurist applying it, make sure the nail beds are as dry as possible. There should be no water, lotion or any oils on the surface –otherwise the gels just won’t adhere in the same way. This is why manicurists spend so long prepping and buffing nails, removing shine and dust too. The first layer of your gel should be applied over the whole nail. The free edge must be capped to prevent water and oils from getting underneath because this can cause premature lifting from the nail plate. 

3. They Can Encourage Nail Growth

It may sound counterintuitive but gel manicures protect the natural nails, allowing them to grow as they trap in oils and moisture underneath –providing they are removed correctly, of course. They’re also a great option for nail biters because they add a stronger layer to discourage any nibbling.

4. There Are Different Types Of Gels 

Different types of gels have different molecular structures. A hard gel or acrylic has a cross-linking structure, which can look more unnatural and only bends slightly. A soak-off gel has a reinforced cross-linking structure, which offers strength and flexibility, and looks natural on the nail. A soft gel can be soaked off easily and offers greater flexibility compared to hard gels, which tend to lie thicker on the nail and take longer to remove. For the best and gentlest removal, Jessica Nails offer their GELeration Soak-Off Gel Polish which is used in salon for minimal damage, but is also available as part of their removal kit, too, which you can buy online. 

5. Gel Manicures Can Still Chip & Break

Hot showers, steam rooms and washing up cutlery can all cause gels to lift prematurely, especially if you’re partaking in any of these up to four hours post-treatment. Harsh chemicals such as bleach, perfume and cleaning products also contribute to early peeling, so wear gloves when possible and try not to leave your hands in water for any longer than they need to be. If it’s a really obvious chip, try and find a similar shade to cover up any gaps and seal it with a top coat for the time being. 

6. The Most Damaging Part Is Definitely Removal

Any kind of improper removal, like picking or peeling at the gels, can damage the nail plate. Avoid this by seeking out a salon that takes its time to remove the polish or by investing in an at-home removal kit. If you do notice any chips in your gels, seal with a top coat and maintain self-control to stop picking off the rest – otherwise you’ll be left with weak, brittle nails that take months to recover. 

7. A Buffer Will Speed Up A DIY Removal Process

If you’re doing removal yourself and find a cotton bud soaked in acetone isn’t working, give yourself a little buff. This will take off the top layer of polish, allowing the acetone to penetrate to the deepest layer and speed up the process. Look for files that have a little grit to them – they break down multiple layers much better. 

8. Never Neglect Aftercare

If you’re taking a break from gels after removal, nothing’s more important than rehydrating your nails. A cuticle oil or nail serum will instantly add nourishment back in. If you’re going directly from one mani to another, avoid cuticle oil because it’ll cause lifting. If you find you’re suffering from peeling or extreme dryness in your nails, take a proper break and allow them to grow back to a stronger, healthier state.

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