The Downside Of A Gel Manicure

For women who take pride in well-groomed nails, a gel manicure would seem like an ideal choice. Gel nails are less likely to chip; they require less maintenance than acrylics; and they last a heck of a lot longer than a plain ‘ol manicure – often more than two weeks. But like everything else that offers benefits, there’s a downside to consider.

Just last week, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) distributed cautionary information about gel manicures and recommended that women hold back on the frequency of this type of nail grooming.

Here are three potential risks to be aware of, according to Dr. Chris Adigun, a board certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine.

  • They can cause nail weakness, brittleness and thinning as a result of the chemicals, or perhaps from the acetone soaks needed to remove the polish. The exact cause is not clear.
  • Acetone, which is needed to break down the chemicals bonds of gel polish, is very drying to the nails and irritating to the skin surrounding the nails. An allergic reaction could cause contact dermatitis.
  • The UV light needed to cure the gel manicure is a risk factor for skin cancer and could also result in cosmetic changes, to the exposed surrounding skin.

The AAD’s advisory noted that while gel manicures don’t pose a serious threat to nail health, Dr. Adigun suggested a “diet” of occasional gel manicures rather than bi-weekly appointments. She also suggested using a broad-spectrum sunscreen on your hands to minimize photo damage during the curing process and frequent moisturizing of the nails to reverse any signs of brittleness, thinning or chipping.

You can read the complete advisory and additional comments from Dr. Adigun here.