Are Gel Manicures Safe or Bad for You?

A few years ago, women had to put up with nail polish that chipped after a few days. Well-manicured nails would wear off so fast and doing the dishes and laundry would hasten the process further. However, with the advent of gel manicures, this has changed. Gel polish lasts long enough and is perfect for the modern day busy woman who has little time to spare to get their nails done. While it may appear all glam, are gel manicures safe or bad for your nails?

At a glance, gel polish is great as it lasts quite long. The appearance is also more polished. If this is the case, what could go wrong? Any woman who has her nails done with gel polish knows that it uses light to cure. This is where your hands are exposed to some ultra violet light so the gel can set in.

While the exposure may be minimal in one process, frequent exposure to the rays could cause damage to your nails as well as elevate your risk of getting skin cancer in the long run. To prevent this, ensure that you do not turn gel nail polish into a routine procedure.

Harmful Ingredients and other Disadvantages of Gel Nails

According to, some of the nail gels contain butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), an agent considered to cause cancer. It is however not known the extent of exposure it would take for the ingredient to have an effect on the user.

Another ingredient to look out for is methyl acrylate which is known to cause contact dermatitis and shortness of breath in people allergic to it.

The nail lamp exposure is normally not regulated and there is no telling how much of it you are getting. Since all the lamps used in setting the gel use the light, exposure to the UV rays can result in photo aging around the nails. This is where the hands develop signs of aging such as wrinkles and dark spots.

Gel nail polish lamp

The gel nail polish lamp

Another disadvantage of gel manicures is that the gel tends to bind the nails for long. This way the supply of oxygen to the nails is depleted. As a result, the nails with time become thin and brittle.

Tips on Using Gel Nails Safely

Now that we are aware of the challenges of getting gel polish on your nails, it is important to put into consideration a number of things while getting the manicure. Below are some tips on how to achieve safety with the procedure:

  • Ensure that your nails are done by a professional. This procedure requires the one handling your nails to have the skills and to also be very careful. Where these are not observed, you may end up with infections around your nails.
  • Wear sunscreen on your hands just before the curing process so as to protect your hands from the harmful UV rays.
  • In between manicures, take a break from the gel to ensure nails get enough moisture and oxygen before getting it redone.

Is it Safe to Do Gel Nails when Pregnancy?

There is limited information regarding the safety of gel nails during pregnancy. According to, it is safe to wear them as long as some precautions are taken. To begin off, check out what the ingredients of the gel used and ensure it does not contain any of the harmful substances discussed above. In addition, use these tips to stay safe with UV gel manicure while pregnant.

  • Since the curing process involves emission of some fumes, you may feel nauseous during the process. Ensure that your nails are done in a well aerated room with proper air conditioning and ventilation.
  • The skin tends to be more sensitive in pregnancy and as such it is possible to experience some reaction to the gel nails. In worse cases, bacterial and fungal infections could flare up. In case you are experiencing this, avoid the gel manicure.
  • Limit the number of times you get gel nails while pregnant. Opt for nail polish instead.
  • While removing the nails, the process has to be done by soaking in acetone. Talk to your attendant to let it soak only for the minimum time needed.

Whether gel nails are safe or not is a matter of personal perspective. It is however important to take precautions. In case you are concerned about gel nails safety, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a broad spectrum sunscreen to your hands at least 20 minutes prior to exposure to the UV light. Where you can, avoid the lamps all together.