How To Fix Post-Gel Manicure Damage

by Tyler Atwood

There are infinite merits to choosing a gel manicure over a conventional manicure, not the least of which is maintaining that covetable freshly groomed, glossy appearance weeks after leaving the salon. However, the aforementioned advantages also come with the downside of often having to figure out how to repair damaged nails after a gel manicure. Gel devotees also pay a heftier price for lasting manicure than the simple $50 cost; in fact, many aficionados report withered, weakened tips after removing their gels. Nail damage occurs from gel manicures due to the strength of their formulas and the methods utilized to remove the polish from nails. Gel polish formulas are manufactured to harden in response to UV exposure, creating a durable coating over nails for two or more weeks when applied correctly.

After the requisite two or three weeks, nail professionals suggest scheduling a gel removal appointment, where nails are soaked in acetone to give the gel a more malleable consistency before it can be prized from the nail surface. In some circumstances, gel polish is filed away or scraped off of the nail. Lastly, there is the least advisable removal method: Peeling each gel off your fingers with no adult supervision. No gel removal method is particularly enticing, and in fact most are downright cringeworthy. Post-gel nails are often splintery, rough in texture, and at the worst of times, jagged.

The solution to woefully desecrated tips is a regimen of what might be called extreme pampering. If you treat gel-torn nails as you would troubled skin, your hands can achieve the appearance of digits that have never seen a UV light. After trimming your nails as short as possible without inflicting further pain, create a multi-step routine for your nails.

1. Get Oiled Up

Begin by massaging a targeted cuticle oil through the bed and tips of your nails, followed by a lubricating nail oil. Devastated nails respond particularly well to Vitamin E oil and apricot oil.

ESSIE Apricot Cuticle Oil, $9, Amazon

2. Strike (Your Nails) Rich

Especially desiccated nails will benefit from an additional layer of moisture such as a rich cream or ointment. A mere water-based lotion won't provide the type of intensive hydration nails need to recover, so search for a formula that possesses a salve-like texture.

Le Couvent Des Minimes Nail and Cuticle Fortifying Salve, $30, Amazon

3. Handle Your Nails With Kid Gloves (Or Moisturizing Gloves)

If you have the time to spare for nail care, set aside time each night to apply your chosen treatments before slipping hands into a pair of moisturizing gloves. In addition to removing the temptation to fuss with your nails, the gloves will also allow your oils and cream to penetrate more deeply without being accidentally wiped away.

Earth Therapeutics Moisturizing Hand Gloves, $6, Amazon

4. Soak Up Your Hydration—Or Put A Mask On It

Dousing your ruined tips in water alone won't do any more than temporarily relax you, so try a souped-up soak with milk, avocado oil, olive oil, or coconut oil. In addition, consider slathering on a nail mask while binge-watching the new season of Orange Is The New Black or scrolling through your favorite blogs. Saturating nails in a formula rich in moisturizing ingredients will speed your recovery process and, as an added bonus, force you to take several minutes to unwind after a busy day.

Ciaté Knight in Shining Armor Overnight Nail Mask, $17, Sephora

5. Amp Up Your Diet

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A diverse diet won't simply increase your energy and prevent illness; eating balanced foods will also do wonders for brittle nail beds. Make sure ample fruits and vegetables are featured in your daily diet, and consider taking a vitamin that specifically addresses your nails.

Images: Getty Images (1)