Don’t Be Gel-ous of My Nails

Gel or shellac nails are becoming very popular at nail salons. When I first tried one and realized that it was immediately dry (ie no delicate, pinky-up use of your car keys or cell phone for an hour post-appointment) I was quickly in love. Then I realized that over the next two weeks the color didn’t chip or fade, I was almost ready to buy stock in all gel polish companies. But, I came to my senses and remebered my line of work. There are a few things about this new found glory that are not perfect.

Gel or shellac nails popular at salons

Problem #1: How it is applied. In order for the layers to harden, your nails (and hands) are placed under a UV light. During a typical application your hands/nails will be exposed to this light for 10-15 minutes. Dermatologists are not fans of UV light. It can age the skin on your hands, and may even increase your risk of certain types of skin cancer on your hands. Yikes!

Solution #1: Sunscreen! Have the manicurist use a titanium dioxide or zinc based sunblock as your moisturizer for that wonderful hand massage portion of the manicure. Don’t be shy, bring your own bottle if they don’t have any available. I bring lots of sample bottles of suncreen to my nail salon and push them onto all the nail techs and encourage them to share it with their costumers.

Problem #2: To remove this polish, typical non-acetone remover doesn’t cut it. Your nails have to be soaked in acetone. Acetone is a solvent which, with extended exposure, will dry out your nails and your skin.

Solution #2: Take breaks from gel manicures, and in between applications use a good emollient like Eucerin Intensive Hand Repair cream on your hands and nails. Petroleum jelly applied directly to your nails is also a great way to revive and moisturize them.

I really do love my gel manicures, but I am religious about the sunblock and I try to take nail holidays. These are small sacrifices for good looking nails.

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