There’s something about having fresh manicure that makes ladies feel more pretty. It’s a great pick-me-up when you know your nails are clean and beautiful — kind of makes you feel like everything in the world is going your way.

If you want that feeling to last and keep your manicure to stay chip free as long as possible, you should consider gel nails! Now, before you head to the nail salon, read these tips so you know what to expect when you get a gel mani.

  • GEL MANICURES AND ACRYLIC ONES ARE NOT THE SAME.

A nail tech makes acrylic nails by dipping powder in solvent. They’re basically used to lengthen the nail or provide a stronger top layer over the natural nail. So stop imagining the Kardashians actually growing their nails an inch long.

Sometimes acrylic nails are colored, but most of the time they’re natural-toned or clear. On the other hand, gels come in nail polish shades, and are made hard by being cured under a UV or LED lamp.

  • LOOK INTO THE BRANDS THAT YOUR NAIL SALON CARRIES.

Believe it or not, there are some polishes that are “healthier” than others. Gel polish are chemicals but they are chemicals that are supposed to be safe and healthy for your nails. Some nail salons might be able to offer cheaper services because they carry “unbranded” gel polish and convince you that there really isn’t any difference.

OPI is a gel polish brand that promises healthier nails and up to 14 days without a single chipped tip in sight. You can call ahead to check with us if we have the OPI color that you have in mind.

  • IT ISN’T TRUE THAT NAILS NEED TO ~BREATHE~

Some people are concerned about getting gels because they are afraid that their nails won’t be able to “breathe,” but nails are made of keratin and actually dead to begin with, so no — they don’t need to breathe! We don’t know who started that whole breathing nail thing, but it is a myth. It is kind of cute to imagine your little nails with micro-nostrils though.

Your nail beds and cuticles are made of living tissue though which is why you need to be careful with them. Don’t pick on your polish if you want to get rid of them. It’s safest to get gels removed at a salon and let nail professionals take care of them.

  • YOU NEED TO WATCH YOUR MANICURIST TAKE OFF THE POLISH.

Yes, a mani is very relaxing and it’s tempting to just watch whatever random show they have playing on the TV or maybe you just like to zone off and think of all the possibilities of the future on your mani appointment. You should, however, keep an eye on what the manicurist is up to.

Make sure the nail tech removes your gels carefully. If soaked properly, the nail polish should just crumble and there wouldn’t be a need to scrape your nails aggressively.

  • MAKE SURE YOUR NAIL BEDS HYDRATED.

It’s always a good idea to take care of your nails. Using moisturizer or cuticle oil can help keep your nails healthy and strong, plus it can help prevent pesky hangnails.

  • USE SUNSCREEN TO PREVENT THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF UV RAYS.

Those purple-colored lights that help dry your gel nail polish are actually UV lights and though it is common knowledge that UV rays are bad for you, they have been part of salon services forever.

Fortunately, gel technology has had huge progress throughout the years and a number of gel polish brands have converted to LED curing, which is less scary that getting exposed to UV lights.

If LED curing is not an option in your nail salon, it is advisable to apply sunscreen at least 30 min before you put your nails under a UV lamp.

hand sunscreen

  • GELS COST MORE THAN REGULAR NAIL POLISH.

The cost for a gel mani really depends on where you live and on the look that you want to achieve. There is the basic one-color gel mani, which costs more than a regular mani, but also lasts twice as long.

If you’re going for a crazy celebrity nail art level, it could end up costing up to $100 – so discuss pricing with your nail tech in advance to make sure you settle on a deal.

At-home gel kits can be a cheaper option and may also last longer than regular nail polish. Don’t expect salon quality perfection though and see to it that your follow the instructions to the last detail. You also need to have a pretty steady hand to get a perfect gel polish end result.

  • GEL POLISH USUALLY LAST 2-3 WEEKS.

One of the reasons why gel polish became so popular is because of how long they last. It’s amazing that a single gel mani can last you about two full weeks without a single chip in sight. If you have a bunch of events lined up, gels can be the perfect solution. And since you won’t see any damage, you’ll love your pretty nails the entire time.

  • STAY ALERT FOR “TOXIC TRIO” INGREDIENTS.

Cheaper branded polishes may include potential cancer-causing chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Be diligent and read the ingredients label on the polish’s bottle or on the company’s website so you can avoid them.

  • CUTTING YOUR CUTICLES CUT CAN PUT YOU AT RISK FOR INFECTION.

There’s no need to get your cuticles cut.

A gel mani already includes so much cutting and buffing and filing. Don’t raise your risk of infection by getting your cuticles cut — just ask your friendly nail technician to have them pushed back.