Gel nails give you perfect, chip-free color for way longer than regular manicures. But they can be, you know, kind of a pain. They’re more expensive and more difficult to remove. But, if you do literally anything with your hands and want a manicure that sticks around longer than the life of a mayfly, you may want to consider one.
Here are the pros and cons of a gel manicure as well has how to get them off.
What Is a Gel Manicure?
First of all, what is a gel nail manicure? The polish itself, as well as the top coat, is made up of acrylic monomers and oligomers that are put under a UV light to “cure” it, which hardens the gel and gives it that beautiful glossy shine. They also tend to last much longer than your regular mani.
How Much Does a Gel Manicure Cost?
Gel manicures are a little more expensive, and way harder to get off. The average cost is $25-$45, but you can replace them less frequently. They’re also a little bit more work for your manicurist and require more equipment, so make sure you tip accordingly.
One way to offset the cost is to do it yourself. There are even a few home “gel” polishes that don’t need a UV light, or you can buy your own lamp for about the price of one salon trip. It also doubles as a tiny black light for when you want to throw a miniature rave.
How Long Do Gel Manicures Last?
The UV lamps curing process means that “your manicure can last from two to three weeks, but with regular polish you’re lucky if it lasts five to seven days without chipping,” says Kristin Pulaski, owner of Paintbucket Nails in Brooklyn.
Getting it off is the hardest part (Ahem, phrasing.) The chemicals in the gel make it resistant to traditional nail polish remover, so it takes a few extra steps to remove your gel manicure.
Because, while gel polish isn’t bad for your nails by itself, you can damage your nails by picking or peeling it off. Even though picking or peeling might feel good, it removes the top layer of your nails and can weaken them permanently.
How do I Remove a Gel Manicure?
- File the top of your nails until it isn’t as shiny anymore to break up the top coat.
- Rub some cuticle oil on your fingertips, and moisturizer all over your hands to keep your skin from drying out.
- Soak cotton balls in acetone remover, place them on your fingertips and then wrap your fingers in aluminum foil.
- Carefully remove the polish with a cotton ball or a nail stick.
If the foil trick doesn’t work for you — it doesn’t for me, I just end up looking like a cranky, busty Edward Scissorhands — soak your fingers in a small bowl of nail polish remover until it is soft and tacky.
Some Gel Nail Polishes To Consider
Now that you know how to remove a gel manicure, maybe you’re ready to take the plunge and do one yourself? There are a lot of great options for polish (here’s a more comprehensive list) and you can even buy your own UV lamp for less than the price of one professional manicure!
Feeling fancy? Go with Chanel. Their Le Gel Longwear Top Coat turns le regular polish into le gel manicure and doesn’t need le lamp!
Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel has the perfect hot pink, which in case it wasn’t clear, we’re big fans of. If it was clear, we should repaint that.
Deborah Lippman’s doesn’t require a lamp, just the ability to not paint your fingers like a four year old.