What is a Gel Manicure?
Gel manicures are popular because they are durable, strong and long-lasting. Unfortunately, this type of manicure has received a lot of bad press lately. Frequent manicures cause nails to peel, crack and thin. They can also hide disease and other nail disorders.
To be fair, all manicures can cause problems if the treatment is left in place for too long. Women who get their nails done cannot see what is happening underneath the polish, acrylic, gel or other nail treatments. Gel manicures, however, are a particular concern for several reasons.
It is unclear whether brittle nails are caused by gel nail polish or gel removal methods. However, some grades of nail polish contain ingredients that are known health hazards. This is true especially for cheap products that are made by manufacturers that operate without quality control measures.
Methyl methacrylate is one such dangerous nail polish ingredient. Exposure to this harmful chemical can irritate the skin and eyes. In some cases, it can cause dyspnea or shortness of breath.
The Ultraviolet Lamps
Gel manicures require ultraviolet (UV) lamps to cure the polish. Women who get frequent manicures are exposed to more UV light than normal. This exposure increases their risk of developing skin cancer. It may also cause cosmetic alterations to the skin around the nails.
The Removal Process
Like acrylics and other nail enhancements, gel manicures have the potential for damage during the removal process. Acetone soaks are necessary to remove the gel. This ingredient tends to dry the nails and irritate the skin.
Impatience is another factor in the removal process. It takes time for gel nail polish to dissolve. As a result, women may help things along by pulling off the product before it completely dissolves. This, too, can cause damage.
Tips & Advice
Despite the health risks, the benefits of gel manicures may outweigh the negatives. Women must decide this for themselves. For those who insist on getting gel manicures, these tips can reduce the risk of problems.
Women should only visit reputable nail salons to get manicures. If they have nail problems, they should consider gels only for special occasions. The time they go without manicures allows their nails to grow and repair.
A good sunscreen applied to the hands during the curing process can minimize the damage caused by the UV lamps. After the manicure, moisturizing creams can rehydrate nails to prevent chipping and brittleness.
During removal, women should soak only their nails in the acetone removal solution. This will prevent skin irritation on the hands. Women who get frequent manicures should consider finger wraps to protect the skin on their fingers too.
Peter Wendt is a writer & researcher living in Boulder, Colorado. When Peter’s wife noticed her nails becoming more and more brittle after each gel manicure, she visited these expert dermatologists in Boulder. Peter wrote this article as a cautionary tale to his readers about the negative consequences of gel manicures.