Are Gel Manicures Bad For You? Breaking Down the Pros and Cons

If you’ve gotten your nails done at a nail salon in the past year a technician has probably asked you if you want gel nails. During the process, a gel-like substance is brushed on your nails and then placed under an ultraviolet (UV) light for two minutes to harden. Approximately $30 later, you end up with chip-resistant nails that last for weeks. Sounds amazing, yet dermatologists are concerned the process causes nail problems, and can camouflage nail disease if done continuously.

The Process
Gel nail polish looks pretty, but it’s hard to remove. Nails must be soaked in acetone for at least 10-15 minutes to rid the nail of the polish. Resulting in thinner, brittle nails that may peel or break easier than usual.

“Over time, this can be very damaging to the nail beds,” said Dr. Howard Sobel, an physician in Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Additionally, repeated use of acetone to remove the gel is very drying and can also irritate the skin surrounding the nails.”