Gel Manicure


The Truth Behind Gel Manicures

7 Oct , 2015  

Gel manicures seem to be the answer to a beautiful, long-lasting manicure, especially for the pet grooming industry. Little do they advertise that gel manicures are actually harmful for our nails. The harm of gel manicures goes much further than the possible risk of cancer (which is a slight risk at that).

I’ll admit it, when I first heard about gel manicures I was quick to get one done at my next visit to the nail salon. Hearing that there was a manicure that worked with my natural nail and lasted two weeks sounded like the solution to the early chipping of polish on my nails. I naturally have long, strong nails and I didn’t want to ruin this so getting acrylic nails wasn’t ever an option for me. After a few gel manicures I realized that this option may not have been the best as my nails were getting really frail, fragile, and breaking more than ever. Upon further research I figured out why and quickly regretted getting so many gel manicures.

The downsides to gel manicures:

Cancer risk

When I heard this my ears perked up quickly. A manicure causing cancer?! Well, truth is there are a lot of other things to worry about before this. Research shows that this is probably the last thing to worry about, if you should worry at all, because the chance of this actually happening is very slim. The gel manicures are set under UV lights. The light frequencies that the nail lamps emit can cause DNA damage to the skin and can cause premature aging and put you at a risk of malignant cancer. The risk of this is very low and can be avoided by putting sunscreen on your hands.

Nerve Damage

Yes, gel manicures can cause nerve damage. It’s not the manicure itself but the nail technician. When choosing a nail salon make sure to keep an eye out for the certifications of the nail technicians. Many salons will have them by the register or by the station the nail technician is working at. Make sure that your certain nail technician has their certification. If not, you could be putting yourself at a major risk for nerve damage.

The risk for nerve damage can come from two different steps in the manicure. First, the filing down of the nail. Untrained nail technicians can file down the nail too much, exposing parts of your nail that shouldn’t be exposed. Also, when filing the nail and the electric file slips, it can scuff, scrape, or cut the skin allowing chemicals to seep into your skin. Your skin acts as a protective barrier against these chemicals, so when they get below this protective barrier in the form of cuts and scrapes it can cause issues. If for any reason this happens to you, stop the manicure and allow your hand to fully heal before rescheduling.

The second place the nerve damage can come from is the chemicals that are being used for the gel manicures. Unfortunately, some nail salons aren’t giving true gel manicures. These chemicals that are being used for false gel manicures can cause nerve damage especially if you also get cut from the grinder states Dr. Orly Avitzur, neurologist and contributor to Consumer Reports. There are a few easy ways to spot a false gel manicure.

How to spot a false gel manicure

Gel manicures should be clear. If the technician mixes glue and powder, you aren’t getting a gel manicure and should not continue to manicure. Also, if your manicure is cloudy, the salon uses bottles in unmarked containers, the product smells unusually strong or has a strong odor, your skin or nails hurt during or after the nail service, and the gel nails do not soak off easily in acetone, then you most likely aren’t getting a real gel manicure. Risk of getting these chemicals in your skin can cause nerve damage. If you have a question about any of the chemicals being used, ask the nail technician what they are using. If they can’t answer you, you might not want to continue the manicure.

Thinning of nail bed

Gel manicures make your nail plate thinner. Studies done of the thickness of the nail plate before and after just one gel manicure showed obvious nail plate thinning.

If you choose to get a gel manicure, keep these few tips in mind:

Give your nails a break

You shouldn’t get gel manicures back to back. This can be really unhealthy for your nails. After getting your gel manicure removed, give your nails 1-2 weeks between manicures. Keep your nails naked. Nail polish blocks nails from being able to transfer oxygen and slows, or even stops, the restoration process. Nails that are peeling, thin, breaking, discolored, or are painful means your nails needs a break. Allow your nails to get back to full health before getting another manicure of any type.

Signs your nails need a break

Signs your nails need a break


Between manicures moisturize your nails. Use something such as Aquaphor to help rehydrate your nails. Put lotion on your nails at least twice a day to help with the healing process of your nails.

Do not pick off polish

Once your gel manicure starts to peel it’s important to NOT PICK THE POLISH. I know this can be hard and I have been guilty of picking my nail polish time and time again. Find the will power not to. Ripping the polish off your nails takes some layers of your nails with it and it can take up to 6 months to fully repair.

Don't peel off your nail polish

Don’t peel off your nail polish


Although gel manicures sound like the perfect fix to a busy women’s life, there are some risks and precautions to keep in mind. As a pet groomer we should keep maintained nails. If you feel that gel manicures are the way to go as a pet groomer, make sure you pay attention to the certifications in each shop and the chemicals that are being used during the manicure. The last thing any pet groomer wants is to get a beautiful gel manicure and come out with nerve damage that could prevent them from working. You can also try these few simple steps and get a long-lasting at-home manicure with no risks!


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