Gel polish has revolutionized the nail industry, and it’s not hard to see why. Gel nails are the perfect option for a long-wear manicure or pedicure that’ll outlast the effects of traditional nail polish. And with the right tips, you can make your gel nails last longer than the average timeframe.
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How long do gel nails last?
Before answering the question of how long should gel nails last, it’s good to know the basics of gel nail polish. A gel manicure or pedicure is a durable substitute for a classic manicure. The gel nail polish formula is composed of acrylic monomers and oligomers, which, when exposed to UV or LED light, harden and bond together. This process is called curing and is essential for using the gel. Curing typically takes five to 45 seconds under ultraviolet light and up to two minutes for LED.
How long does gel polish last? Firstly, it depends if we’re talking about a manicure or a pedicure! There may not be a significant difference, but there often is one. Let’s break it down, starting with manicures—how long does a gel manicure last on average? Most people get two to three weeks of wear from a gel manicure. The reality is how long gel nails last has a lot to do with taking proper care of them. If you want your gel nails to hold up longer than the typical timeframe, the right aftercare routine will go a long way.
How long do gel pedicures last?
The most popular question: How long does a gel pedicure last, and is it worth it? On average, a gel pedicure will last at least three weeks. Regardless of the nail polish type, pedicures usually last longer than manicures. The same rule applies to gel. Feet are generally less exposed than hands, meaning there’s a lower chance of getting your polish ruined too quickly.
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How to make gel polish last longer
Durability is gel nail polish’s star quality. Its long-lasting and chip-resistant properties are precisely what has made it so popular with the masses. With gel, you’re already guaranteed a few weeks before needing a total refresh. But add a little TLC into your daily nail care, and your gel polish may be able to endure some extra days. Here are five hacks for how to make gel nails last longer:
- Use cuticle oil regularly
Gel nails last longer when they’re hydrated. So, if you want your gel manicure or pedicure to stay for the long run, add cuticle oil into your daily routine. Cuticle oil moisturizes and strengthens the nail beds. Its nourishing composition helps condition the nails and ward off breakage and brittleness. You can add extra hydration by topping it with a rich hand balm. But do you put cuticle oil on before or after hand cream? Apply the cuticle oil first! After it soaks in, use the hand lotion to seal in the moisture.
- Cure it for longer
Curing gel nail polish only takes a couple of minutes or less. After a few moments under the nail lamp, the gel’s liquid consistency transforms into a robust, solid layer. Under-curing the polish can cause your manicure to wear off faster. So be patient with the process! Theoretically, you can boost the gel’s lifespan by spending a few extra moments under the nail lamp. If your nail tech gives you the okay, stick your hands back until the lamp for a bonus round. But what about natural UV rays from the sun—does gel polish last longer if exposed to sunlight? Yep! Natural light can also reinforce a gel manicure and help it continue to cure.
- File when needed
Can you file gel nails? Yes, but only when necessary! A chipped corner or a broken nail can happen, even with gel. And if it does, you’ll want to use a nail file to salvage your manicure. Smoothing out snags or rough edges is an excellent solution for how to make a gel manicure last longer. The best nail file for gel nails is a medium-fine grit file or a nail buffer. If you notice a chip, handle the problem as soon as possible to prevent further chipping, splitting, or tearing.
- Keep them dry
Moisture is key for extending the life of your gel nails. But what you don’t want to do, is keep your nails wet for a prolonged time. If you want your polish to last longer, you should avoid contact with water as much as possible. Steer clear of soaking your gel nails, and use rubber gloves when cleaning. Nails expand when they get wet and contract when they dry up. This constant ebb-and-flow can weaken your nails and cause them to chip.
- Be gentle with your nails
Why does gel nail polish last longer for some people but not for others? It could come down to how much you use your hands and what you use them for. Using fingernails as tools for picking or scraping can quickly deteriorate a gel manicure. Similarly, bad habits like nail biting can also be detrimental. Even trauma like bumping or hitting your nails on a surface can cause the gel to wear down faster. The bottom line is to be gentle with your nails. Taking good care of them will help your gel manicure last longer than average.
How often should you get your nails done?
There’s a bit of a debate surrounding how often to get a gel manicure. But in the end, there’s no single, correct answer. Gel manicures are generally considered safe, but there’s always the risk of carcinogenesis from UV exposure and premature skin aging. The risk of skin cancer from UV manicures is considered small. But it doesn’t hurt to take precautions by wearing sunscreen or UVA-protective gloves. As long as your nails are in good health, getting back-to-back manicures is A-OK. But if you notice that your nails are getting weak or brittle, it’s a good idea to take a break from gel and rock your natural nails for a while.