The upside of gel polish
One of the reasons gel manis are so popular is how long they last! “The efficacy of a gel is based on how well the product goes on, its durability and how easily it can be removed,” says Kallens. Most salons will guarantee no chips for a week, but if applied properly, they can last up to three! Unlike regular polish, which can chip after two to three days (unless you take these steps to make them last longer), they’re borderline indestructible, which makes them ideal for weddings, special occasions, and vacations. The question is only whether your health pays a price.
Be wary of UV light
The application of gel is not totally different from the application of a traditional polish, with the exception of the curing process under the UV-emitting lamps, according to Chris G. Adigun, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist and Nail Specialist at the Dermatology & Laser Center of Chapel Hill. And therein lies the potential problem. “These lamps are not to be underestimated, even though the exposure times are brief,” Dr. Adigun says. “They are very powerful and are emitting UVA rays far more powerful than those emitted by the sun.” She recommends purchasing a UVA-blocking sleeve, such as the YouVeeShield, and bringing it to the nail salon to wear while your gel polish is curing. LED lights are actually no safer than traditional fluorescent UV lamps. In fact, according to Dr. Adigun, they emit exponentially more powerful UVA rays, which is why the curing times are shorter. Forgetting your hands is one of the sunscreen mistakes we all make.
Know how nails get damaged
It’s not just the UV light that’s potentially damaging. While an experienced nail tech will always make sure the correct lamp is used with the proprietary gel polish for the recommended amount of time, it’s easy to mess up the steps. “Any alteration in these variables can lead to polish that is over-cured to the nail plate that becomes very difficult to remove,” explains Dr. Adigun. “A properly applied gel should literally ‘float’ off the nail with the acetone soak. However, when a gel is not properly cured, it will not come off, and needs to be manually chipped off, which is very traumatizing to the nail plate.” Find out the 16 things your manicurist is secretly thinking about you.