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The Truth behind Gel Manicure

Updated on November 7, 2014

The Truth behind Gel Manicure

Beautiful hands make you look (and feel) pretty, feminine, and make such a good impression. For the longest time, women used acrylic nails or nail tips to make their nails look long and sexy. The problem with acrylic nails, however, is that they can be very harsh on your nail bed underneath. The volatile compounds use to apply acrylic nails is not safe for pregnant women, and has a terrible odor. Removing acrylic nails can leave you with damaged, rough and ripped-up nails, forcing you to have to have them redone.

Gel nails are a fairly recent alternative to the old-fashioned acrylic nail. Being more expensive and more difficult to achieve at home, many nail lovers are reluctant to try this new method. This is what you should know about gel nails-- the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.

The Good about Gel Nails

One thing women appreciate about gel nails is that they're not as harsh as acrylic nails. Gel nails are much kinder and gentler to your own nail bed. Removal is usually not as difficult or as potentially damaging. As long as the primer and gel were properly applied, your nail bed should be undamaged when you remove the gel nails.

Application of gel nails is odorless and they don't require the volatile adhesive used in acrylic nails.This means they're even safe for pregnant women-- so you don't have to wait 9 months to get that manicure!

Gel nail polish generally lasts longer than regular nail color, which means fewer trips to the salon to get the nails redone or touched up.

The Bad about Gel Nails

Gel nails can be more expensive than acrylic nails. If cost is a major factor in your nail budget, this can be a problem for you.

While gel nail color is generally longer last than polish, artificial nail tips are not usually as long-lasting as acrylic nails. They tend to chip, break and loosen more quickly. This is understandable, as acrylic and adhesives used for them are fairly rock-solid. Gel nails are more similar to real nails in that they're flexible and soft, so therefore they don't tend to last as long.

You have to be careful with gel nails... just because they're not as harsh as acrylic, it doesn't mean they're 100% safe. If you impact your nail in an accident, such as getting it closed in a door, whether your nail is gel or acrylic you can get an infection underneath an artificial nail. If the nail becomes loose from the nail bed and moisture gets inside, it can be a perfect spot to develop fungus. If improperly applied, removal can be painful and damaging to the nail bed.

The Ugly about Gel Nails

The real ugly part of gel nails is not so much about gel nails themselves, but in unethical salons and poor business practices. Some salons try to pass off acrylic nails for gel nails. They'll charge more for the fake gel nails than they do for acrylics, but you'll think you're getting a bargain because the nail place down the street charges $10 more.

It's important that you go to a reputable nail techincian. Gel nails are not applied with foul-smelling powders and adhesives. In order to cure gel nails, you're required to put your nails under a blue ultraviolet light for a few minutes between coats. If your nail technician is using stinky powders instead of lights, you're being swindled! You're getting acrylic nails!

A good way to protect yourself in a new salon is to ask them how they apply the gel nails. If they tell you about the UV light, you should be fine. If not, ask them if they use a light. If they say they don't, then they're not giving you gel.

Another concern that's been raised about gel nails is the concern about skin cancer due to the application with UV lights. Reports say that the UV lights used are for so short a time and over so small an area, that it does not put anyone at significant risk. Still, if skin cancer is a major concern for you, you may want to skip the gel manicure.

The Beautiful About Gel Nails

The beautiful thing about gel nails is how beautiful they look. They have a soft, natural, glossy shine that is much more realistic than acrylic nails. They feel more like real nails as well. Many people who try gel nails say they will never go back to acrylic, but now that you are an informed customer you can make your choice based on your own needs.

Gel nails with inlayed design - step by step


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    • shai77 profile image

      Chen 4 years ago

      It is so true. Nail techs are either scamming clients or they're so uneducated on their own trade that they don't even understand the products they're working with and are just doing what the salon or product pushers tell them. Now there is a new buzz word with 'solar nails' and people think they're getting something new, even though it's the same thing with new marketing. You have to be so careful doing your research. Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience!

    • profile image

      Rebecca Rodriguez 4 years ago

      So sad I am professional nailtech , is funny how salons scamming their client , I had a bad experience with solar nails I've come to find out is just acrylic I been doing research thank Goodness now I educate my clients there is no such thing is solar nails ,only gel polish and acrylic that it!!!

    • shai77 profile image

      Chen 4 years ago

      Debbie, I'm sorry to break it to you, but to date there is no such thing as gel powder that's actually gel. Real gel is never in powdered form; this is why it's called 'gel'. It's a 'gel'. And applying gel nail tips requires several layers (with several UV drying times in between). So unless they're doing multiple layers of gel, you're not getting gel.

      The #1 nail scam in the country right now is using acrylic nails with a gel topcoat. They may use odorless acrylics, but if they're using powder, it's got acrylic polymers in it. I've also heard of salons taking the label off the bottle (so you can't see it has acrylic on it), so if the bottle your salon is using has no label that's a major red flag. There are reports of them putting their own labels on the bottle that say 'gel powder' but you'll have to look close to see if its something made by a computer.

      If you call any cosmetology board in any state, you'll be told gel powder doesn't exist-- powder is acrylic; some hybrid techniques will use both, but if there's powder in there, it's acrylic in there.

      To be fair, your salon might not be deliberately scamming you. There are some non-gel products that like to put the word 'gel' in their product to make it sound like gel, because gel is so popular right now. For example, one popular product is called 'Acrygel'-- which is an odorless acrylic used with a gel topcoat. Since gel techniques are so new that they are not taught in cosmetology schools, and not part of licensing/certification exams, your technician may simply think this is a new form of gel, having been duped by the salesperson.

      To be honest I wouldn't be happy either way-- you're either being scammed deliberately, or you're being serviced by people who don't know their business well enough to understand the products they use.

    • profile image

      Debbie 4 years ago

      Hi I watched your video on pros and cons . I have had acyclic and thought gels however where I go they use a " gel powder" but here's the thing it doesn't smell like acrylic and after the powder is done I then get the gel on and go under the lamp ! Now he swears to me that this gel powder but after watching the video not so sure but it doesn't smell at all and he says it's like 200 a bottle ! Could you please if you know tell me whT it is I'm getting ! Now they are shiney and no dry time Bc it's in the lamp! They don't lift or come off and last a long time ! I'd like to believe my nail tech but idk! But like I said it doesn't smell and it is powder pink and white also have colors and glitter but again it's all powder ! Please help me if you can read this and let me know ! Thank you debbie