13 Things You Need To Know Before Getting a Gel Manicure

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Gel Manicure

13 Things You Need To Know Before Getting a Gel Manicure

13 Things You Need To Know Before Getting a Gel Manicure

There’s no better way to treat yourself then by splurging on a luxurious gel manicure. A little nail art a few rhinestones, and an on-trend-hue give you the same boost of confidence as a spot-on outfit or a really good hair day. Unlike those things, which only last a day or so, a solid gel manicure can last you up to four weeks, if you play your cards right.

You’re probably asking yourself “HOW? My nails usually chip after three days!” Well, thanks to the quick-dry formula, the application process is quicker than regular nail polish and lasts four times as long. That means you’ll have weeks to enjoy your beautiful nail art.

Before you head to the salon, read these top tips from NYC-based celebrity nail artist Mis Pop. She’s done manicures on all the hottest celebs, from Gigi Hadid, Ariana Grande and Lucy Hale. Ahead, she spills all her expert tips and tricks for getting the best possible gel manicure and how to make it last extra long. Here’s everything you need to know before getting a gel manicure.

Simple Nail
Simple Nail

1. Gel and acrylic are completely different.

Acrylic nails are made in solvent. “They’re essentially used to lengthen the nail or provide a stronger top layer over the natural nail,” explains Miss Pop. Think: the crazy-long coffin nails Kylie Jenner is obsessed with.

Sometimes acrylic nails come in colors, but usually they’re clear or natural-toned. Gels, on the other hand, come in nail polish shades, and are made hard by being cured under a UV or LED lamp.

Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande’s Nails

2. Look into different polishes to see which ingredients you feel most comfortable with.

Believe it or not, there are some polishes on the market that are known as “healthier” when it comes to gel manicures. For example, OPI’s GelColor ProHealth Base and Top Coat promises healthier nails and up to 14 days without a single chipped tip in sight.

A lot of salons now offer this polish, but call ahead to see if they carry the gel variety, as well. The base coat and topcoat can be used with any of OPI’s over 140 gel color. You can make nails here Nails Eastpointe

OPI's gel
OPI’s gel

3. Your nails don’t actually need to “breathe.”

Many people worry about getting gels because they fear their nails won’t be able to “breathe,” but nails are dead, to begin with. The whole idea is a myth, but it is kind of cute to imagine your little nails with micro-nostrils.

4. Gels weaken your nail beds, but it’s mostly because of the removal process.

Now that we’ve gotten past the “breathing” myth, let’s talk about what parts of your nails do need TLC. Your nail beds and cuticles are what’s most important — they’re made of living tissue, which is why you need to be careful during the application and removal process. DON’T rip them off. Get gels removed at a salon safely (it usually costs around $10-$20) or remove them yourself at home with acetone, tin foil, cotton balls, and a nail file.

Super Nail Pure Acetone
Super Nail Pure Acetone

5. Actualy watch your manicurist take off the polish.

I know. It’s so tempting to just zone off and watch whatever random show they have playing on the salon TV, but be sure to keep an eye on what the nail technician is up to.

Make sure the manicurist is removing your gels carefully. “No one should be scraping your nail bed aggressively. The product should just crumble off,” says Miss Pop.

6. Gel Manicure | You can remove gels at home safely.

If you want to save money and a trip to the salon, you can take gels off yourself. You just have to be extra careful.

Depending on your gel, this can take 15 minutes to an hour. When the gel is crumbling or sliding off, gently use a rubber-ended cuticle pusher to clean the gel off of your nail bed (do not file or scrape!).


Cuticle Stick
Cuticle Stick

Nails Eastpointe

7. Gel Manicure |Keep your nail beds hydrated.

Miss Pop recommends using cuticle oil and moisturizer. “Even if you don’t have a gel mani, those products will help your nails stay healthy and strong, not to mention stave off hangnails,” she told Seventeen.

8. Gel Manicure |UV radiation can be dangerous to your health. Gel Manicure

“Those purple-colored lights that help your nails dry are UV lights,” explains Miss Pop. “Conventional wisdom says unnecessary exposure to UV rays is bad for you, but they have been part of salon services forever.”

Luckily, there have been huge improvements in gel technology, and many brands have converted to LED curing, which doesn’t have the side effects UV rays have on your skin.

SunUV Machine

Ask your salon for that option. If you love your UV lamp for drying, put on sunscreen before – just in case.

9.Gel Manicure |At-home gel kits DO work.

At-home gel kits last a bit longer than a regular manicure — maybe 10 days — but are not salon quality. You have to follow the instructions to the last detail and have a pretty steady hand to get a perfect gel nail.

10. Gel Manicure |Gels cost anywhere from $35 to $120.

How much you’re going to pay for a gel mani depends on where you live, but also what kind of look you want. Basic one-color gel manicure starts around $35, which is more than a regular mani, but it also lasts twice as long. If you want crazy celeb-level nail art, it could end up costing up to $100 or more – and that’s not including the 20% tip.

11. Gel Manicure |Gels generally last 2-3 weeks.

The best part about gel manicure is how long they last. If you have a bunch of events coming up back to back like prom, internship interviews, and family vacays, gels can be the perfect solution. They last about two full weeks with zero chipping – four if you’re careful with your nails.

12. Gel Manicure | Watch out for “toxic trio” ingredients.

Some polishes include potential cancer-causing chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde. Read the ingredients label on the polish bottle or on the company’s website to avoid them.

13. Gel Manicure |Cuticles trims can put you at risk for infection.

Most salons don’t cut cuticles anymore, but you should still ask your technician about it before she starts on your nails. Don’t increase your risk of infection by getting your cuticles cut – just ask to have them pushed back, instead.


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