Oct 31, 2012 9:00 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Gel manicure last weeks longer than basic manicure: too good to be true?

It's a process of filing, painting, and priming. Tending to the fingertips for many women, can be a boost of confidence.

"It just helps you get ready, feel good about yourself in the day," said Cal Poly student Rachel Bitter.

Bitter said she's experienced all kinds of manicures. Ones with your basic polish, and the acrylics, but now she said, she resorts to the gel manicure.

She said, "the gel is kind of the in-between where you get the final finish look of the acrylic without all the damage, and then on top of it, it's your natural nail, so it just feels like a regular nail polish."

It's shinier, and lasts for up to three weeks. It's so hot that even the first lady's gel manicure was all the buzz at this year's Democratic National Convention.

But, as the old adage goes, with beauty comes pain, and the gel manicure may not be so different.

"The surface has been damaged in the sense that it's really rough," said Bitter.

The gel polish is a unique kind of paint. Each coat gets cured and cemented down by a UV light. It leaves you with a hard shell, ready to go in minutes.

Bitter said, "I'm the kind of person that ends up peeling it off, so you'll see that top layer come off."

Bitter is referring to the top layer of the nail plate. If peeled off incorrectly, nail experts tell KSBY News that one can pull off chunks of your natural nail.

Doug Schoon, the Co-Chair of the Professional Beauty Association's Nail Manufacturer Council of Safety, said, "they are supposed to be soaked until the point that they're soft enough that they can be completely removed without harsh scraping, and they should never be picked from a nail."

Amy Lopez, the owner of Christie's Salon in Santa Maria, said they soak gelled nails in acetone for about 15 minutes, just long enough until the paint can almost slide off. She said they also don't use the conventional UV light for drying because many clients have expressed concerned about burning and cancer. So, they use a LED lap instead to dry the gel polish.

But, Schoon said, either lamp is safe for clients' hands.

"There's very low levels of UV exposure and nothing that is going to cause harm or injury to clients when the products and the lamps are used as directed by manufacturers," said Schoon.

Schoon added that long amounts of soaking will not absorb or cause any damage to the nail plate.

All good news for Bitter, who said she's hooked on the gel manicure, and is never turning back.

"I have them perfect for three weeks and then wait a couple more weeks before feeling the need to get them done again," she said.

The Professional Beauty Association said if one is that concerned about getting burned while hands are under a UV or LED light, one can wear an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, or put a cloth over the exposed hand. But, Schoon said, having the hands under the lamps is actually safer than exposure to the sun.

Finally, Schoon said, repeated gel manicures is fine and safe, because the nail plate is very resistant. He said if gel manicures are performed and removed by a professional, it's safe.



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