6 Tips for Keeping Your Nails Healthy with Gel Manicures

A few pointers

What’s not to love about gel manicures? They last for weeks without chipping--and stay shiny that entire time. Oh right: Without the proper care, they can leave your nails brittle and thin. Here we outline your pre- and post-manicure plan for keeping your tips healthy through it all.


Prep them with oil beforehand
The night before your appointment, apply a generous amount of oil (cuticle, olive or argan) onto your nail beds. This will help fill in any gaps and moisturize the skin surrounding your nail beds so you’re less prone to peeling later.

Use a better base coat
Ask your nail tech if he or she has IBX. It’s a pre-gel treatment that shields your nails from the chemicals in gel polish, while healing any splits and grooves so they can grow without breaking.

Keep them short and slightly rounded
Gel polish can thin out nails over time, which makes them prone to snagging and breaking. Skip pointy tips for shorter ones to keep them strong. And since you probably won’t be tending to them for a couple weeks, it’s better to start off shorter so you have some leeway as they grow.

Keep hands dry
As in, limit exposure to water whenever possible. Washing a few plates bare-handed? Fine. Anything longer than that, wear gloves to keep moisture out (which can cause polish to lift). 

But keep cuticles moist
Like we mentioned earlier, massaging oil onto your tips keeps them conditioned and healthy, so continue to do so daily. Better yet, top it all off with a thick cream or ointment like Aquaphor to really seal in moisture.

Don’t pick at your polish
Most importantly, if your polish begins to lift, get yourself to the salon for a proper removal--or buy a removal kit to do it yourself. Whatever you do, resist the urge to pick and peel. When you do this, layers of your nail can come off with it.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...