Is the gel bad for your nails? We discovered
Nails are the ultimate accessory. From French manicures to sparkly nail art, your fingers can certainly make a statement. Want a long-lasting manicure? Gels can last up to 3 weeks and provide a glossy finish without chipping or flaking.
Plus, the long-lasting gel means you can wash dishes without worrying about ruining your nail work…. but could it ruin your natural nails? And Can Nail Gels Affect Your Overall Health? Here’s what you need to know.
One of the most in-depth studies to date on the side effects of gel nail polish was conducted in a survey of 2,118 respondents. In the self-reported questionnaire, almost half reported side effects when applying gel nail polish, and 1 in 5 while wearing it.
Potential side effects when applying or wearing gel nail polish include:
- a feeling of pain and burning
- swelling, redness or discoloration, peeling or drying out of the nail fold
- nail plate modifications
Less than 1% of people reported a rash on their hands or body, eczema, or swollen lips.
Removing the gel is the step most likely to cause damage
The above study also found that 3 in 4 people experienced side effects after removing their gel manicure, including:
- weakened nails
- split nails
- white spots on the nail plates
- grooves on nail plates
- color changes of the nail plates
- onycholysis or separation of the nail bed
- changes in nail shape
- scales developing under the nail plate
But not all removal methods were equally likely to cause problems. The study found that these side effects were much more likely to occur when participants performed (and removed) the manicure on their own.
One of the first things that usually strikes you when you walk into a nail salon is the strong chemical smell. Not all of these substances are necessarily harmful, but many gel polishes can contain potential harmful effects such as:
- dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which is a plasticizer that makes products more flexible
- triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), another suspected plasticizer and endocrine disruptor
- toluene suspends color evenly and can lead to skin irritation and inflammation
- formaldehyde, which is linked to certain cancers, is used as a hardening agent
There is still debate as to whether these chemicals are considered toxic, but formaldehyde is of particular concern. The Environmental Protection Agency says research has linked it to certain cancers and that it can also cause contact dermatitis, especially if you have sensitive skin.
What these chemicals mean for your health
Some research even suggests that certain chemicals in nail polish can get into your body.
In a small 2015 study, researchers tested the pee of 26 women who had recently painted their nails. Compared to placebo manicurists wearing gloves and false nails, TPHP levels increased sharply in all participants in the active nail polish group. Remember, TPHP is an endocrine disruptor, which means it disrupts your hormones.
After your nails have been given a coat of gel paint, they bask in the glow of an LED nail lamp to harden and harden.
LED bulbs emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation – but think of sunlight rather than Chernobyl. Over time, exposure to UV rays can damage your skin, leading to premature wrinkles and age spots, and can even lead to skin cancer.
But a 2013 study suggested that the limited exposure you’d get at a nail salon isn’t a big deal. These LED nail lights are generally considered low risk by the FDA as long as they are used as directed.
for your information: If you are more sensitive to UV rays (because of illness or medication, for example), you may want to transmit this exposure.
Gel nails usually take a little longer than a regular manicure. You can expect to spend about an hour there, but it depends on the condition of your nails and if you are already wearing gel polish when you arrive.
Step 1. Nail preparation
First, your manicurist will prepare your nails. They will push back your cuticles with a hand sanitizer to prevent the nails from absorbing the oils. (Yes, the oil is good for your cuticles, but save it for after the manicure.)
Then they will cut off any excess cuticle and shape your nails. Then they will clean your nail bed with alcohol and a pH balancing product to ensure the gel sticks.
Step 2. Base gel
Base gel is a base coat that helps real gel to stick to your nails. It also prevents the pigments in the gel from staining your nails (which never looks great). You will then run your nails under the nail lamp for about 15 seconds, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 3. Topcoats
Now for the good stuff. Usually you will have two coats of color applied, with a 30 second cure under the nail lamp for each.
Then you will get a top coat to keep the color smooth and shiny. Again, it will be healed under the lamp.
Most gel polishes leave a sticky dispersion coat after curing, which your nail technician will wipe off with alcohol.
Step 4. Cuticle oil
Ooh! Look at those nails that shine like nothing has happened! At this point, your nails are full and shinier than a new car. But before you go, your manicurist will apply a coat of cuticle oil to keep them looking pristine.
Fresh gels look sexy AF, but how do you keep them that way? Here are some things to avoid when wearing gel nails to keep your natural nail as healthy as possible.
- Do not use cuticle oil. Healthy nails are slightly flexible and need to be hydrated to keep them that way. Using cuticle oil combats dry nails, which can lead to brittle nails that break easily.
- Leave the gel on for too long. Yes, it can be tempting if they’re still perfect, but ideally you should remove your gel manicure after 3 weeks or less to avoid damaging the nail bed and cuticles.
- Leave damaged gel on your nails. If the gel is damaged, flakes and begins to lift, moisture can seep underneath, which can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi. Uh! You better remove your gels if they are compromised.
- Remove the gel yourself. While it is tempting to remove a worn out gel manicure at home, it is safer to call in the professionals. Being too rough or using the wrong products can damage your nail bed.
While not quite as trendy and certainly not as durable, traditional nail polish still does the trick. In addition, many new products are coming to the market with long-lasting formulas designed as a hybrid between classic polish and gel polish.
If you want a fresh manicure for an event, there are always press nails to lean on. Gone are the days of thick, plastic-looking extensions that won’t fool anyone. Nowadays, press nails look realistic, come in different designs and can even last up to a week. And if you don’t lose any, you can reuse them. Plus, they’re a great option for nail rodents.
Gel nails are safe for most people, especially if you save them for special occasions when you and your nails need to shine.
Look for non-toxic products if you can, as nail polish, including gel, can contain chemicals.
Also, if you go overboard with manicures, your nails can become dry, brittle, and broken. So, if you want your nails to always look pristine, consider using classic polish or press-in nails between gel manicures.