When I was younger, I really wanted acrylic nails and french tips. They were the thing when I was in middle school + early high school. Fortunately, my mom would never let me get them. Then, luckily for me, the gel manicure rose to popularity. gel manicures didn’t ruin your nails the same way acrylics did + they lasted for more than a week. As someone who hasn’t gone a day without nail polish on in the last 14 years, this really appealed to me.
What is gel exactly? Glad you asked. Gel manicures are a combination of chemicals that unlike acrylics, go on your nails as a liquid product. Thanks to the combination of chemicals + their reaction to UV lights, gel manicures do not require drying time. Your hands are ready to use as soon as you leave the salon – no more smudges! While 14 days is the standard for a gel manicure, the lucky ones know the tips + tricks for getting our nails to last a little longer (my record is 5 weeks). Check out the tips below to keep your nails flawless.
How to Maintain Your Gel Manicure
- Get it done by a professional. No matter how good you think you are at doing your nails, a trained cosmetologist is still better.
- Research the brands. Most salons have several brands, some more reputable than others. Do a little research + choose your color from a brand you know will last. I personally love OPI.
- Make sure your nails are clean + have no residue from any prior polish. Your manicurist should take care of this, but when she sends you to wash your hands, she means it.
- Keep your hands moisturized. Use cuticle oil daily + keep your nail beds from drying out. Push back cuticles if they begin to encroach on your nails.
- Avoid hot water. Water that is too hot can cause a gel manicure to lift off.
- Wear gloves when cleaning. While there is no direct link, anytime I clean with a bleach-based product, I feel like my nails lose some luster.
- Be careful what you peel. The only times my gel manicure doesn’t make it to 14 days is because I tear it trying to peel a sticker off something.
- After a week, add another layer of a gel top coat to strengthen your existing manicure. This is especially important to do at the tips of your nails which you may need to file and reseal.
- As your nails grow out, create a reverse French manicure by adding glitter to the base of your nails to cover any gaps.
- Have your gel manicure taken off professionally. The most common reasons gel manicures mess up people’s nails is because they pick or scrape off the polish themselves. Don’t do that!
Next time you head to the salon, tell them you’re opting for a gel manicure + see how long you can make yours last with these tips.