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1/21/11 Gel Nail Polish? Dream Come True or Damage in Disguise.

Posted on January 21, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Here’s a question from one of my readers:


“I went to get my nails done the other day and they offered me ‘forever polish’ that they insisted would never chip. I told them I didn’t want ‘fake’ nails, and they promised that it was just polish, so I agreed. They put it on like polish and then I had to put my nails in a little light for a few minutes. Then they told me I had to come back to get the polish taken off, because nail polish remover wouldn’t work. What did they put on me, and is it going to damage my nails?”


They put gel nail polish on you. This is one of the hottest trends in nails right now, and while it will not chip as quickly as regular polish, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s “forever”. You should get about 2-3 weeks out of it, depending on the color used (darker colors need to be changed more frequently because of re-growth around the cuticle. Light colors are less noticeable as they grow out). This gel polish will also make your nails harder while it on, as it is technically a very thin nail enhancement. 


Here’s what it is:

Gel is traditionally used to create nail enhancements. It is basically the same idea as acrylic, but the liquid and power are pre-mixed to create a perfect ratio every time. It is a gooey jelly like substance that is brushed on the nail. It remains this pliable jelly-like consistency until it is cured. A UV light (that’s what you put your hand in) is used to cure the gel into a hard shell. Gel can be applied over a tip, with a form, or to the natural nail. The gel polish is just a very thin, colored layer of this gel.


Technically, they did apply an enhancement to your nails, and they absolutely should have explained what they were using before applying it. Especially since you specified that you did not want any enhancements. However, gel is gentler to natural nails than acrylic, and as long as you take care of the gel, and it was applied correctly, it should not damage your nails. I think Gel Polish is a great option, especially for people who are hard on their nails. I’ve actually considered adding it to Pamper Parties Pittsburgh’s list of services.


To Prevent Damage from Gel Polish:

- DO NOT pick or tear the gel off. It is not polish. It is chemically bonded to your nail plate, and if you rip it off, it will remove layers of your natural nail.

- Did the nail technician file the surface of your nail with an electric file? This is not necessary for the application of ANY nail enhancement. If you go somewhere that does this, STOP going and find a new salon, preferably one that does all their filing by hand, as it is much more difficult to injure a nail with a hand file. If the tech did use an electric file on your nail plate, I suggest getting a Hair, Skin, and Nail vitamin now to try and salvage your nail’s strength. Once the Gel Polish is (properly) removed, use a strengthening base coat for a while to add protection until they heal.

- As long as the place you went seems legit, I would just go back there to have the Gel Polish removed. If they try to use an electric file to remove it, please request that they use a hand file and block buffer or acetone instead. If you’re having more Gel Polish applied, removal should be included in the cost of the service. If not, and you don’t want to pay a removal fee you can remove the Gel Polish at home. Most gel does not soak off with nail polish remover, but pure acetone (either professional grade from Sally’s or real acetone from the hardware store) may remove it. Use a rough nail file to go over the entire surface of the enhancement, and then soak 10 cotton balls in the acetone, place saturated cotton balls on your nails and wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Leave nail wrapped like this for about 15 minutes. When you remove the wraps, your gel polish should slide right off. Not only does this method keep the harsh chemicals from damaging your skin, but also the foil traps body heat and acts as a catalyst to speed up the chemical reaction between the gel and the acetone, which causes the breakdown in the product. A block buffer will also take the gel off, but this will be a lot more work.


Now that you know the basics, you can decide for yourself whether Gel Polish is for you or not, but I definitely recommend it!


Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great weekend!

-Bethany

Categories: Hand, Foot, and Nail Care

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13 Comments

Reply Allante Hair Design & Spa
10:38 AM on June 23, 2011 
The trick it CUTICLE OIL CUTICLE OIL CUTICLE OIL. In order for the gel polish or shellacs to adhere to the nail properly to allow the maximum time they should last, the nail must be completely dehydrated. The nail then is dry and may become brittle. Every day cuticle oil should be applied to keep the new nail growing stong that way the nail bed is not ruined. Cuticle oil is not expensive and will be a huge benefit to your nail whether you have gel or shallac or not. Check us out at www.allantehair.com
Reply Thuy
11:32 PM on June 27, 2011 
Bethany - you did an ok job explaining the gel polish concept but unfortunately you are perpetuating the myth that e-files are damaging and that hand filing is the only way to properly apply enhancements. As with any profession, proper education in technique and knowledge of the product is key to success. It is also the client's job to be a smart consumer and ask questions. Just cause it's on the internet, doesn't mean it's fact.
Reply pamperpartiespgh
9:22 AM on June 28, 2011 
Thuy,
I'm sorry that you feel that my explanation is merely "ok", and that I've apparently offended you and your use of electric files. However, my readers are asking for my advice and opinion on the subjects they present, and my opinion is that electric files are an unnecessary danger to clients. Any skilled technician should be able to apply an enhancement that is easily hand filed. I'm not even going to address using an e-file on the bare nail plate, as I'm going to assume you or any technician would NEVER do that. I personally believe that electric files are the lazy way out. They risk the health and beauty of the client's natural nails to save the technician a few extra minutes of work. Even with proper training and technique, one slip of the hand or a spilt second distraction can lead to irreversible and painful damage. Maybe it's just because I know I make mistakes, and would hate to do it at the expense of my clients. Technicians who are perfect and mistake-free should by all means save themselves the time and effort. I certainly don't expect you to agree with me, but I've earned the trust of my readers and they value my opinion.
Reply Pokernurse
1:23 PM on June 28, 2011 
Nice answer! Good for you.
I'm sorry that you feel that my explanation is merely "ok", and that I've apparently offended you and your use of electric files. However, my readers are asking for my advice and opinion on the subjects they present, and my opinion is that electric files are an unnecessary danger to clients. Any skilled technician should be able to apply an enhancement that is easily hand filed. I'm not even going to address using an e-file on the bare nail plate, as I'm going to assume you or any technician would NEVER do that. I personally believe that electric files are the lazy way out. They risk the health and beauty of the client's natural nails to save the technician a few extra minutes of work. Even with proper training and technique, one slip of the hand or a spilt second distraction can lead to irreversible and painful damage. Maybe it's just because I know I make mistakes, and would hate to do it at the expense of my clients. Technicians who are perfect and mistake-free should by all means save themselves the time and effort. I certainly don't expect you to agree with me, but I've earned the trust of my readers and they value my opinion.
[/pamperpartiespgh]
Reply wylene edwards
6:32 PM on September 25, 2011 
people are asking about the gel polishes, so I chose your site. Your answers helped me to decide if I would add the service. Your descriptions were accurate and informative, plus I like how you use the correct names and words for what we do. When a guest wants "Special help" with her nail challenges, 99% of the time I help them out with a silkwrap enhancement, silk nail repair, or they get instant longer nails with white-tips with silk as the over lay. I have been doing silk wrap services for 25 years. About 60% of my clients have silk as a way to make their nails more durable and they get excellent wear. My natural nail services last well and about 30% of my clients get great wear, and of course they do their home maintenance. I was shocked when her highness Jessica Vartoughian of Jessica Cosmetics came out with her Geleration line.
She was my nail guru when I started doing nails 30 years ago. In all honesty, I just don't want to invest the money adding gel polish or gel nails. It would increase my service time, I would have to charge more, and it would defeat
the excellent services that I already offer. My clients come every 2 weeks and I don't want to put them in something where they would call and cancel because their gel polish still looks good, I have a friend that works at a well respected salon and she has told me some horror stories about how some of the nails look after the gel polish removal. Trends and fads come and go, but I'm sticking to the formula that has allowed me to own my own business for 15 years. Yeah, I could always use a dozen more clients, but I try to cultivate loyal, punctual, committed to their nail care services. 95% of new clients are referrals,from my elite clients, so I know I am gaining a new client that will be "as good as gold!" As it stands for now if a gel line would send me a free start up kit, I would experiment with it on myself or my sister as model. Keep giving out good comments though, just because I'm not totally sold, doesn't mean
another nail tech won't perfect her application and create a niche for herself with this new "trend". I'm sticking with what has worked for me. I wonder if clients seeking fads will stay true blue? And please don't send me any bargain shoppers. I feel blessed that with over 40 years as a licensed cosmetologist; instructor's license, salon owner, no one yet has asked me for their money back. Thanks for allowing me to express my opinion and toot my own horn a little. Write me for advice or just my opinion sometimes. God Bless you. Wylene Edwards@att.net
Reply Paula
2:16 PM on November 27, 2011 
Hi, I purschased my own light and the kit to do my nails at home. I love it, I do find that the nail polish is a little expensive, So, my question is do you know if you use the base coat and any nail polish then the top coat if that would work?
Thanks
Reply pamperpartiespgh
10:52 AM on November 29, 2011 
Paula,
This is an interesting question that you pose... I'm sure if you asked the manufacturer or a technician performing the service they would tell you that you absolutely should NOT use regular polish with the gel polish base coat/top coat, because they want you to pay for their product/service. However, since the gel polish is an enhancement I don't see any reason why you couldn't apply the base coat, cure it, and then polish over it with any nail polish. Have you ever had acrylic or gel nails? When you polish them, that stuff stays on until you remove it because there are no oils in the enhancements to cause it to chip as in your natural nails. So, I would have to say YES, you could just purchase base coat from now on, and use any polish you want over it to achieve the same (or at lease similar) results. However, I would NOT apply the gel polish top coat over regular nail polish, as I'm not sure how it would effect the curing process. My guess is that the top coat would not cure at all or cure, and then peel away shortly after, as it is not designed to be applied over anything but itself (gel polish). You could use a professional grade high shine top coat to achieve that shiny just-manied look. My favorite is seche vite quick dry. It is a thick top coat that adds TONS of glossy shine while fusing the layers of polish together to create a smooth, even, professionally-done look. Please let me know how this works for you, I'm very interested in hearing about your results!
Paula says...
Hi, I purschased my own light and the kit to do my nails at home. I love it, I do find that the nail polish is a little expensive, So, my question is do you know if you use the base coat and any nail polish then the top coat if that would work?
Thanks
Reply Roxie
7:13 PM on April 17, 2012 
My questions is when my gel nail polish is being removed they have me soak for 20-30 minutes and I've noticed that my real nails tend to cure inward, if I used your method to use the cotton balls and foil whould that element it??
Reply lisa
11:56 PM on May 11, 2012 
thanks soooo much for all of your info. i wanted a regular mani today but was pressed for time. they recommended a gel mani since there is no dry time (you can walk right out without worrying you'll smudge them). what they didn't mention was that it's more expensive, and the did prep the nail surface with an electric file. now that i know how to take if off safely i will remove it at home before going and bring my own file for them to prep the nails. no reason to drill my nails. i still have 1 damaged nailbed from acrylics i took off 4 years ago. what vitamins do you recommend for healing nails quickly?
Reply pamperpartiespgh
12:26 PM on May 15, 2012 
Lisa,
First, the reason they suggested the gel polish was to make the extra cash. Period, end of story. They saw an opening to make an extra profit. Not that your nail tech is a terrible person, that's just the nature of the salon business (all business, really). Had they put your regular polish under the same UV light for 2 minutes, it would have set quicker. Personally, I think gel polish is great, but I don't understand why the salons all seem to be pushing it as polish, when it is definitely an enhancement. Another thing I don't understand is why they would use an electric file on your natural nail ...ever! Application of gel does require a bit of "roughing up", which would merely be going over your nail plate gently with a block buffer a few times to remove the shine and create some texture for the gel to 'grab onto". Using an electric file for this is simply laziness. Please do not let any nail tech use an electric file directly on your nail plate. The only time they should be using an electric file is to smooth and shape acrylic or gel. They are trained professionals, and are used to their equipment, but it just poses unnecessary risk. Surgeons are trained professionals too, but it's unlikely that they would choose to use a tool designed to cut through bone to remove a mole... right? I too am a reformed acrylic wearer. I am nursing my own natural nails back to health after 12+ years of acrylic, and my system is pretty simple: Protect them. I keep a strengthening base coat, 2 coats of color, and a top coat on them at all times. Any basic multivitamin will have everything you need. No need to go out and get a special vitamin, as you're just going to have to allow the damaged parts of your nail grow out. Keeping them protected will prevent breakage and sensitivity. Also, applying cuticle oil daily will ensure that they grown in strong and healthy.
I hope this information helps!
-Bethany
lisa says...
thanks soooo much for all of your info. i wanted a regular mani today but was pressed for time. they recommended a gel mani since there is no dry time (you can walk right out without worrying you'll smudge them). what they didn't mention was that it's more expensive, and the did prep the nail surface with an electric file. now that i know how to take if off safely i will remove it at home before going and bring my own file for them to prep the nails. no reason to drill my nails. i still have 1 damaged nailbed from acrylics i took off 4 years ago. what vitamins do you recommend for healing nails quickly?
Reply Maria
8:44 AM on July 10, 2012 
pamperpartiespgh says...
Paula,
This is an interesting question that you pose... I'm sure if you asked the manufacturer or a technician performing the service they would tell you that you absolutely should NOT use regular polish with the gel polish base coat/top coat, because they want you to pay for their product/service. However, since the gel polish is an enhancement I don't see any reason why you couldn't apply the base coat, cure it, and then polish over it with any nail polish. Have you ever had acrylic or gel nails? When you polish them, that stuff stays on until you remove it because there are no oils in the enhancements to cause it to chip as in your natural nails. So, I would have to say YES, you could just purchase base coat from now on, and use any polish you want over it to achieve the same (or at lease similar) results. However, I would NOT apply the gel polish top coat over regular nail polish, as I'm not sure how it would effect the curing process. My guess is that the top coat would not cure at all or cure, and then peel away shortly after, as it is not designed to be applied over anything but itself (gel polish). You could use a professional grade high shine top coat to achieve that shiny just-manied look. My favorite is seche vite quick dry. It is a thick top coat that adds TONS of glossy shine while fusing the layers of polish together to create a smooth, even, professionally-done look. Please let me know how this works for you, I'm very interested in hearing about your results!
Reply Maria
8:50 AM on July 10, 2012 
Sorry, didn't post my comment properly. I have tried using the Gelish foundation then two coats of regular nail polish followed by the Gelish Top it Off. I've had varying success. The key is to let the regular nail polish completely dry (and that can take a few hours) before applying and curing the gel top coat. When the polish is completely dry, I had very good wear - about two weeks. The next time I was in a hurry and probably did not let the regular polish dry thoroughly before applying the gel top coat so the manicure only lasted a couple of days. The polish actually flaked off, especially at the tips (and I was careful to wrap the polishes over the top.) So, it can work but you have to have the time to let the regular polish completely dry.

[/Maria]
Reply Samantha
9:10 AM on July 11, 2012 
Thank you for that information. I just had gel nails applied almost two weeks ago. I chose a light color because I hate it when my polish chips. I was debating whether or not to go back in a few days to get it redone and I think I will. I was pleased with the process, no electric file was used and it is on sale right now at the salon I use.