It’s become the “in thing” to have for women who hope to have their manicures last longer. It’s a miracle. A life-saver. And most moms can agree—chasing after little ones, running a thousand errands, and juggling schedules doesn’t exactly leave time for a regular manicure (or, an easily chipped nail polish).
For those who have never gone through the process, a gel manicure basically works like this: A base coat is cured under a UV lamp, followed by two layers of special-formula nail polish, followed by a top coat. To remove the ultra-resistant gel manicure, one must have the polish soaked in acetone for some time (according to multiple reports, it seems like this can go anywhere from 5-12 minutes) before starting over. The result is a chip-free polish for up to three weeks.
But experts say that while the process has results that may look beautiful for two weeks, gel manicures can cause months of damage to the natural nail. For one thing, many manicurists have clients soak nails and hands in acetone, which absorbs into the body and into the bloodstream. Others file nails down with a drill, often leaving the natural nail paper thin and in desperate need of a nine-month-to-a-year healing process. And damage to the nail beds themselves is a common complaint among gel users.
And what about the UV light? Subjecting your hands to UV light on a regular basis is no joke. It is the same light used for tanning beds and the more cumulative the UV exposure the higher the risk of skin cancer. Imagine – the UV light used for manicures is 3-5 times stronger than that of tanning beds.
The question really shouldn’t be, are gels dangerous? It’s more like, why even risk it? There are more options in nail world that are less chemical bound and safer. If you must use nail polish, look for those with the least amount of chemicals. You may need to have more frequent manicures but at least you will be less likely to suffer damage to your natural nails. And be sure to leave some time between manicures to moisturizer your nails and let them breathe.