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How to keep your nails healthy, no matter how you mani.

August 06, 2015

Are gel manicures better for your nails?

No. If anything, they can be worse. First, it’s worth noting that if you never miss a mani appointment, whether for gel or regular polish, it’s time to give your nails a break. All the filing, buffing and painting (without time for nails to “breathe” in between) causes dehydration and thinning of the nail, which can lead to peeling, even painful nails.

Gel manicures in particular can increase the chances of damage because the removal process requires a very long soak in acetone, which further dries out nails. And if you tend to pick (especially if there’s no base coat), peeling off a gel polish can remove the top layer of your nail. This can weaken the nail and make it more prone to infection. Finally, you’ve probably heard about the skin risks of the drying process, which exposes your hands to cancer-causing UV rays.

All this doesn’t mean you need to skip gel manicures completely. But to make them healthier, give your nails a few weeks’ break between applications, apply sunscreen to your hands before you go and don’t pick when you get home!

Health‘s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.

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