Yes, there's hope for your dry, damaged nails.
Nail polish addicts have a love-hate relationship with gel manicures: we love their long-lasting color and shine, but hate how they leave our nails dry and brittle after they come off. We asked celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann to share her tips for keeping your nails in tip-top shape after getting a gel manicure.
Remove the polish properly
Most of the damage from gels comes from the removal process. A lot of people get impatient with the amount of time it takes for the gel to dissolve, and end up peelingÂ the product off. When you do this, you're taking a layer of the nail off with it and weakening the nail plate. Either get them soaked off professionally, or follow our guide to removing your gel mani at home without wrecking your nails.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
You would never wash your face without applying moisturizer afterward, so why would your nails be any different? The gel polish prevents air and moisture from penetrating the nail, and the acetone remover further dries them out, so you've got to make sure to replenish them. Here's what you need in your arsenal: Oil (like Sephora's Formula X Quench Nail Cuticle Oil, $15; sephora.com); cuticle moisturizer (such as Dior CrÃ¨me Abricot Fortifying Cream for Nails, $27; sephora.com); and nourishing hand cream (we love Skinfix Ultra Rich Hand Cream, $10; target.com). Apply the oil and cuticle cream to the nails, then slather the moisturizer all over.Â Lay a hot towel over your hands for a few minutes to let everything soak in.
Take a break
Get nails back in shape by laying off your gel or polished mani for at least a week or two. Instead,Â use a treatment like Orly Nailtrition ($15; amazon.com). It's made with collagen, wheat protein, keratin and bamboo extract to help nails grow longer and stronger. Once you're ready to go back to polish, try using an at-home gel system that doesn't take a UV light, like Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro ($45; sephora.com). It allows you to turn any nail polish into a gel mani, plusÂ it's made with biotin and green tea extract to infuse nails with nutrients while still being polished.