Are Gel Manicures Bad for You?

Gel manicures are one of the most popular nail treatments in the world. Gel manicures are not only great for your nails, but also for your busy schedule. The process is quick and easy and once done you will enjoy beautiful, healthy nails for weeks.

However there have been speculations about the side effects of getting gel nails, this has brought about the question, are gel manicures bad for you?

Yes, gel manicures can be bad for you; especially due to their numerous side effects. There are many reasons why getting a gel manicure may be bad for your nails. The chemicals in the gel can damage the nail plate, causing it to weaken and get more brittle. This can lead to peeling, lifting, and splitting as well as fungal infections that cause inflammation and pain.

In this article, we will also look at other effects of getting a gel manicure and other things you need to know.

What Are Gel Manicures?

Gel manicures are a type of manicure that uses UV light to cure the polish. This means that your nails will be dry and ready for any activity once you leave the salon. They’re also known to last longer than traditional nail polish, so if you’re looking for a long-lasting mani, this is it.

In addition to being more durable than traditional nail polishes, gel manicures can be removed using acetone. If you want an at-home solution without having to book an appointment at the salon every time you want a new look, consider getting gels.

Why Gel Manicures Are Bad for Your Nails?

1. Gel manicures can cause dryness and infections

Your nails are made of keratin, which is a protein that also makes up hair and skin. The problem with gel manicures is that they dry out your nails, so they become brittle and more susceptible to breakage. Not only that, but if you have any open cuts on your hands or fingers, the gel polish can trap bacteria in the area and cause an infection.

If you get a gel manicure at a salon, take extra precautions before leaving to make sure that the nail tech properly cleans their tools after each client. If they don’t do this, there’s a good chance of getting an infection from improperly sanitized tools.

2. Gel manicures can cause your nails to become weak and brittle

Gel manicures can cause your nails to become weak and brittle. The chemicals used in the process are hard on your nails, and they can have an effect on the natural oils that help keep them strong.

This is especially true if you get gel manicures frequently. It’s recommended that you wait a bit between getting a gel manicure so that your nails have time to recover from their previous application.

3. Gel manicures can also cause your nails to break more easily

While gel manicures are a great way to protect your nails from everyday wear and tear, they can also cause them to break more easily. The chemicals in the polish make your nails more susceptible to peeling and cracking, which is why it’s important to get gel nails less frequently.

4. Gel manicures can cause your nails to become yellow

Gel manicures can also cause your nails to become yellow. This is because the UV light used in the curing process causes a reaction that makes your nails discolor. If you’re prone to getting gel manicures, you may want to consider using non-UV gel polish instead of UV lights, because there’s no reason for them and they’re just as effective without them.

5. Gel manicures can cause cancer

Additionally, because gel manicures are cured under UV light (which is visible light), they produce free radicals that may cause cancerous cells in your body. Free radicals are unstable elements that occur naturally in all living things and come from exposure to sunlight or other sources of radiation (like X-rays).

These unstable molecules attack healthy cells by stealing their electrons; this causes damage that leads to aging skin or even cancerous growths.

What Conditions Make Gel Nails Safe?

The only condition that makes gel nails safe depends on how often you get your nails done. If you’re getting them once a month, there’s no harm in it whatsoever. But if you’re getting them every week or even every few days (like some people do), then that might be a problem.

The main concern with frequent gel manicures is the amount of time they take to wear off your natural nail plate and expose the underlying cells underneath it. This can cause damage over time because chemicals used in gel polish are harsh on nail plate cells.

However, if you’re using a top-of-the-line salon with high-quality products that contain zero toxins such as acetone and formaldehyde (which can cause cancer), or explore other safer ways of getting gel manicures then you might have nothing to worry about.

How Often Is It Safe to Get Gel Manicure?

So how often is it safe to get a gel manicure? It depends on your lifestyle and how often you get your nails done. If you’re someone who gets their nails done once every month or two, it’s best to have a gel manicure no more than every 8 weeks.

If you get them done more frequently than this, there are some risks involved with having too many prolonged applications of the UV light used in the process of applying gels. You can also potentially damage your natural nail and this can lead to peeling and chipping later on down the line.

Are There Any Long-Term Risks to Regular Gel Manicures?

The biggest risk with gel manicures is UV light exposure. The UV lamps that cure gel nails emit ultraviolet radiation (UV), which can cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Even minimal exposure to UV light can damage your eyes, leading to cataracts if you’re exposed for long enough. As a result, it’s important to avoid getting UV manicures as much as possible, ideally by not getting them at all.

If you’re worried about getting a gel manicure because of its potential health risks, the good news: there are plenty of alternatives.

What Should I Do to Protect My Nails From UV Light Exposure During the Manicure?

If you want to protect your nails from UV light exposure during the manicure, there are a few different things that you can do. You could choose a UV light-blocking nail polish. These polishes are specially formulated not only to block visible light but also infrared rays as well. Many people prefer this option because it is easy and convenient.

Another option is to use a UV top coat over your gel manicure. This will help block out any harmful rays that might otherwise damage your natural nails by absorbing them into their surface layer.

You could also consider using massage creams or lotions with SPF on them while getting manicures during your next visit to the nail salon.

How Can I Safely Remove My Gel Manicure?

1. Use acetone

Acetone nail polish remover is the easiest way to remove any existing nail polish. Simply apply a small amount of acetone to a cotton ball or pad, and wipe it across your nails.

2. Use the warm water method

You can also use warm water to soften your gel manicure before removing it. To do so, soak each finger in hot water for about 20 seconds before rubbing off any excess gel with an oily substance such as olive oil or Vaseline. Then follow up with the acetone method described above.

This trick works especially well on gels that are still shiny; if yours are duller from wear and tear, try using a foil wrap instead of acetone-soaked cotton balls.

3. Use a grit file

Another option for removing gel nails is using a device called a “nail file” (also known as a “buffer”). These tools work by buffing away at your nails until they become rough enough that they begin peeling right off, no chemicals are needed.

Alternatives to Gel Manicures

There’s no question that gel manicures look great but even though you can get them in a salon, they’re not ideal for everyone. They’re costly and time-consuming and require a trip to the nail salon every time you want the look. They are also damaging in the long run. In order to avoid any of these, you can work with the following list of alternatives;

  1. A regular manicure using nail polish
  2. Do-it-yourself manicure using nontoxic nail polish
  3. shellac manicure
  4. dip powder manicure
  5. gel nail extensions
  6. silk wrap nails
  7. press-on nails
  8. nail stickers

How long should you wait between gel manicures?

The recommended waiting time between gel manicures is two weeks. If you're a super-fastidious person, it might be worth experimenting with a week at least once every eight weeks instead.

Which is healthier gel or acrylic nails?

Gel manicures are the healthier option. Acrylic nails take more of a toll on your nails, and some studies have shown that they can weaken your natural nail by causing them to separate from their bed. Gel manicures are much less damaging to your nails because they don't incorporate an acrylic overlay as part of their process.


As you can see, gel manicures are not as safe as they seem. If you want to enjoy the manicure experience without worrying about your nails, then it may be time to try something else. Acrylic nails can cause some problems too, so find out what the safest option for your nail will be.


1. Gel manicures: Tips for healthy nails

2. Gel vs. Acrylic Nails: Which Is Best For You?

3. Dermatologist’s secret for removing gel nail polish at home

4. What to know about gel polish safety

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