Beauty, Fashion, housekeeping, Life, Nail Polish, Nail polish, gel manicures

Gel Manicures: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

img_3454There is nothing more annoying than leaving the salon after getting your nails done, reaching into your purse to get your keys out, and realizing that your nails are destroyed (insert ugly face cry). Am I right? Then came along the gel manicure … instant drying, no mess-ups, quick and easy. Also, they last longer than normal nail polish, with minimal chipping… it’s a beautiful thing. I have always been a bit skeptical about gel manicures. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally get a gel manicure when I want them to last long, like for weddings or vacations, but I am very particular about who I let give me a gel manicure. I have been to salons where they completely destroyed my nails and it was months before I had healthy nails again.

Manicures can weaken your nails, whether it’s a gel or not. I have mentioned in past posts that having your nails breathe every once in a while is important. I totally understand, I feel naked without polish, but at the end of the day, I rather have pretty nails that I can continue polishing. Some gel manicurists completely strip your nails. I cringe when I see them picking up the nail filer and rubbing it on the top of nails… no bueno!


The “Toxic Trio” (disclaimer: I am about to use really big words that I can’t actually pronounce) there are three toxic ingredients that are found in many nail polishes, however, these ingredients are more prevelant in gel formulas. They are:

Formaldehyde is a chemical that is a component in plywood and particleboard, and is often used as a preservative, sterilizer, and embalmer. This chemical is added to nail polishes that are also considered “nail hardeners.” Formaldehyde has been considered a carcinogen, linked to nasal and lung cancers, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Dibutyl Phthalate, or DBP is added to nail polish to make it more flexible and less prone to cracks, chips, and other annoyances. This chemical, however, has been linked to reproductive issues and has been banned in Europe. While it is still approved for use in the in the United States, many women choose to avoid it.

Toluene is used to help keep nail polish smooth and even when applied. However, this chemical has been linked to issues affecting the nervous system with symptoms that include dizziness, headaches, nausea, and eye irritation. Toluene has also been linked to birth defects and developmental problems in children whose mothers were exposed to the chemical during pregnancy. To date, toluene has also been banned by the European Union, but not by the United States.

(I found all this info at

Side Note: I love that Europe is always on top of things like this.

img_3452This is serious stuff people! Luckily big nail polish brands like OPI and Zoya have been tested and have shown to be safe nail polish options. When looking for polish check the labels to see if they say “Big 3” free.

Another big part of the gel manicure routine is the UV Lights. I have read different points of views about this. Some say the risk of cancer from this UV light is slim, while others say the risk for cancer is just as high as going to a tanning salon.

Again, I am not saying that I will never get a gel manicure – I have, and if needed, I will again. I think it’s important to do all these things in moderation though. Getting gel manicures back to back is where the issues lie. It is the constant scraping of your nails and the harsh chemicals that can destroy those pretty little nails. Also, the processing of removing the gel is harmful. Soaking your fingers in acetone and then scraping off what’s left behind (this gives me nail trauma) causes your nails to be dry and brittle.

Again, this is why I am picky about where I get my gel manicures. The best gel manicurists will apply your gel polish and cure it properly, which then makes the removal much easier and diminishes the amount of scraping.

I know you love the look and the longevity of gel manicures – I understand! So maybe what I should be telling you is how to keep your nails healthy in this process, ay?

  1. Be picky about your gel manicurist.
  2. Give your nails a break every two weeks.
  3. Love on your nails and fingers after your gel manicure is removed – those cuticles need lots of love!!
  4. Hydrate – Nails Inc. “Back to Life Recover Treatment” polish is great for the time off you give your nails because it hydrates your nails with vitamin C , coconut, apricot, and avocado oils. Its pricey but if your nails are in bad shape its worth your $$$.
  5. If after reading this post, you are now terrified of gel manicures – sorry! There is an easy way of getting the same gel-like finish without the harmful side effects – use a gel-like topcoat over any nail polish!

Ladies, I hope you enjoyed this little post and didn’t get too terrified. It’s important to know what we are putting into our bodies! 

Thank you for stopping by!
Love, Sara 


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