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Gel Off! How to Repair Damaged Nails after Gel Polish Manicure?

Unfortunately, gel polish mani isn’t unflawed and innocent. You should sometimes press “gel off” button and switch to beneficial nail care since gel leaves nails damaged, making them thinner and weaker day by day. How to nurture nails damaged due to gel? Read on!

Whenever we immerse in topic of manicure, we hear that hands reflect our personal care so nails should be well-groomed, that's for sure. Then, it’s no wonder that we like to turn to gel nails which last very long, are easy to do at home and give lots of possibilities. This hit has taken over the cosmetic industry because it lasts on nails much longer than 2-3 days like an ordinary nail polish.

There's a problem that we face, though. Not each of us has a nail plate which is hard enough to get through the gel so this kind of mani usually causes extreme damage to nails.

Does gel polish really cause damage to your nails?

It's tabu. Are you aware that gel nail polish affects your nails? Even if you do the mani right, gel does harm them. If you notice:

  • thin nails after gel
  • very soft nails after gel
  • yellowish nails after gel
  • brittle nails after gel
  • nails hurt after gel

you are likely to be one who doesn't tolerate gel mani and should give it up immediately.

Remember that this type of manicure treats nails both to chemicals and UV radiation (unless you use a pricier LED lamp). Both factors have a very bad impact on the condition of nails and skin on the hands. It seems to make no sense that we protect ourselves against UV radiation by using sunscreen and then we deliberately expose ourselves to the same radiation generated by the mani lamp.

Damaged nails after gel are often caused by an allergy to gel and ingredients in most primers, polishes and top coats: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toluene. If a given product has poor quality, the negative effect of these ingredients is intensified, causing more micro-damage on the nail plate and around it. Toxic substances easily penetrate the body yet the fumes are the most harmful.

There's another way that gel uses to cause damage to nails. Most problems are connected with the infection of the nail plate. It happens when the gel is cured under the lamp not having enough power: the gel isn't hard enough so it becomes an ideal (warm and moist) environment for the development of microbes. That's why so many of you suffer from nail fungus after gel manicure, and it's really hard to cure it.

Obviously, it's not just the gel what leaves nails damaged. It's also acetone used for removing the gel. It dries out the nails and skin, plus nails are likely to be damaged mechanically when taking gel off. 

How to repair nails damaged from gel?

There are numerous ways to nourish and strengthen the nails. It's best to start at the core, that is think of your diet.

The best diet for strong nails takes nothing but healthy food and delivering balanced amount of nutrients. The essential ones are biotin, zinc, silicon, folic acid, iron, vitamins A, C and E. You can find them in the following ingredients: kiwi, parsley, brussel sprouts, cranberries, wild rose fruit, fish, green veggies, groats, avocado, leguminous veggies and all products having health benefits.

If a healthy diet fails to give enough help, try supplements. A good dietery supplement, which contains nutrients essential for nails, will help you regenerate them faster.

Still, the most effective ways to treat damaged nails after gel (you'll find the essentials later on) are:

  • a specially-designed nail conditioner
  • professional in-salon nail therapies
  • nail repair using natural oils
  • DIY conditioners and home methods

Nail conditioner for damaged nails after gel

The first thing we use to treat damaged nails after gel mani is a conditioner. There are lots of such products on the market, however, not all of them are worth your attention. Do you know the best conditioner for damaged nails after gel removal?

The best conditioner is formulated without formaldehyde and other toxic substances. It should be as natural as possible and abound in ingredients essential for damaged nails: proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Some conditioners for gel mani (which work as a base for gel to strengthen nails if you don’t want to give up on manicure) contain e.g. silk proteins (repairing effect) or diamond dust (hardening effect).

However, if you're more interested in a good nail conditioner to treat nails after gel, use a professional product e.g. IBX System for fixing very damaged nails after gel mani.

Natural oils for nail repair

If your nails are damaged from gel, you can repair them using oils. Repairing nails with oils is nice and simple, plus the use of such natural ingredients has nothing but benefits.

Do you know which oil is best for damaged nails? Here's my private round-up of the best treatments.

1. Castor oil for nails. It looks very simple but turns out to be the most powerful. Castor oil helps repair hair, lashes and brows, as well as nails after gel mani. It contains unique ricinoleic acid which has an antibacterial effect, strengthens nail plates, improves moisture levels and makes nails harder and resistant to damage. The most effective way to use it is rubbing castor oil into nail plates (ideally, after slightly heating it first).

2. Tea tree oil for nails. When it comes to natural oils for nails, essential oils are also worth nothing, especially tea tree oil which is known for its antifungal effect. That's why it works amazing for weak, damaged nails and when you treat nail fungus.

3. Argan oil for nails. This one is a rich source of vitamin E which is the strongest antioxidant. It is able to repair nails, strengthen them and accelerate cellular renewal. Rejuvenating and revitalizing effect of argan oil is a thing that damaged nails long for.

4. Shea butter for nails. Last but not least, plant butter, or a natural version of readymade nail butters. Not only does shea butter keep sufficient levels of moisture but also protects nails against damage, evens out their structure, restores natural color, increases gloss and enhances repair.

If you like, you can make use of other nail care oils or create your own blend of oils. Variety is something that our nails are fond of.

Homemade nail conditioner

Using at-home mixtures is an excellent way to nourish nails after gel. DIY conditioner might work as effectively as the one bought in a store.

DIY gelatin-based nail conditioner

A gelatin-based nail conditioner, aka nail lamination. It's a natural way to harden damaged, brittle nails after gel. You should give this treatment a try because gelatin is filled with biotin, mineral salts and proteins (substances making up the nails).

How to make a gelatin nail conditioner? Take 2 teaspoons of gelatin and pour some warm water over it. Put the mixture aside for a few minutes to let gelatin harden. Soak nails in the mixture or apply it to nail plates and leave in for several minutes. Repeat the treatment at least every other day.

DIY vitamin-dense nail conditioner

Another home nail conditioner, which is also a great choice after taking off gel, is made of olive oil, vitamins A + E and lemon juice. The last ingredient has amazing nourishing properties and brightens the nails whereas olive oil and vitamins make a perfect match for revitalization and moisture boosting.

Preparing this kind of nail conditioner is very easy. Take a spoon of olive oil, add half teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and several drops of vitamins (available at the chemist's). Rub the blend into the nails on a regular basis.

DIY fruit & vegetable nail conditioner

What else can you use to make an effective, natural nail conditioner to strengthen nails after removing gel? Fruit and veggies! For instance, nourishing cucumber, brightening lemon and repair-enhancing apple. This mix strengthens the nails provided that you use it regularly.

There's an easy recipe to follow. Grate a cucumber and an apple, add fresh lemon juice, mix and smooth it over the nails. Leave on for a couple of minutes and repeat the treatment every or every other day.

Top nail treatments after removing gel polish

There are also salon treatments to fortify nails and fix damage done by gel manicure. If you want to repair your damaged nails after gel using a pro treatment, you can choose between the following options:

  • Japanese manicure makes a good choice when you want to slightly strengthen the nails and let them rest, giving them a chance of repair. The treatment consists in buffing a nutrient-rich paste into nails (incld. keratin, beeswax, vitamin A+E, etc).
  • natural manicure in which naturalness is a priority. It involves giving nails a nice shape using nail files having the right shape, gently polishing the nails and delivering nutrients e.g. oils. It's a typical mani which focuses on delicacy and natural look.
  • SPA manicure, that is a combination of natural mani with a nourishing treatment and an extra hand massage which stimulates micro-circulation so nails get stronger at the same time.

Feel encouraged to share your opinion about the article with us.


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