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Why Won't This Gel Manicure Come Off?

The Unexpected Way Sunlight Is Affecting Your Gel Manicure

It sounds dramatic, but gel nail polish is truly life changing. Once-weekly manicures (that get marred by frustrating chips and dents in mere days) have basically become obsolete. You can now wear a shiny, practically invincible manicure for two straight weeks . . . or even longer.

But there's one aspect of gel polish that makes us wary of swearing off standard lacquer for good: the gel removal process. Not only do those acetone-soaked pads seem harsh on the nail, they can sometimes take over 30 minutes to be effective. What started as a time-saver quickly becomes a serious hassle.

According to Linette Ruffino, an independent artist who works at Paintbox in New York City, the fact that you stretch your manicure longer than two weeks is likely to blame.

"Gels chemically formulated for a 14-day wear — which we categorize as 'soft' — shouldn't be worn for three to four weeks," she said. The reason for this is simple: UV light. "The same way gel cures under a UV light, it also cures with exposure to natural UV rays from the sun," Ruffino explained.

So the longer you wear a manicure (and thus, the more daylight it's exposed to), the more the polish hardens onto your nail. This makes the gel more challenging to remove.

But if you have consistent bimonthly appointments at your local salon, then your stubborn manicure could be due to your nail technician's methods.

"Not all [gel] brands are meant to be used in conjunction with each other," Ruffino warned. "'Sandwiching' formulas, by using base and top coats from one brand and color from another manufacturer, can make the removal process an absolute nightmare."

She noted that each company uses different bonding agents in their lacquers, so they are designed to be used as a system, not mixed and matched. Talk to your manicurist about which brand's products are best for the look you want to achieve.

Discover more gel manicure mistakes you might be making.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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