Is Gel Polish Bad for Your Nails?

Gel nail polish is a semi-permanent solution for those who don’t want to maintain normal polish. But you may be asking the question: is gel polish bad for your nails? 

Getting a gel manicure means having a professional finish on your nails that will likely last you 2-3 weeks with little to no maintenance, making it a popular option for many people. 

But, you might find that when you remove the gel, your nails do not feel as strong and smooth as they did before. We look at how gel nail polish can be bad for your nails, and what you can do to keep them healthy. 

What This Article Covers:

Is Gel Polish Bad for Your Nails?

Gel Nail Polish can be bad for your nails if used excessively.

When it comes to gel nail color application, it is best to research the proper methods of doing it before applying to ensure you keep your nails as safe as possible.

Generally, the effects of gel nail polish are noticed when the gel is removed. The types of damage could be split or cracked nails, slight grooves on the nail plate, color changes on the nail plate, and most commonly, weak and brittle nails. 

But, this is more likely to be the case if you do not get the gel polish properly removed. Research safe and careful methods of soaking or filing off the gel, as forcibly peeling it off will result in damage. 

Another concern is the ingredients in nail polish. A majorly common chemical is formaldehyde in nail polish, which can cause harmful effects such as eye and skin damage, and could lead to respiratory issues and cancer in the long term.

These chemicals can enter your bloodstream through contact with your skin, or even permeated through your nails. It is also another reason why biting your nails is bad, as it can be ingested. 

Can nail polish kill you? It is unlikely, but it can lead to long-term effects that can contribute to disease or illness. 

This can be avoided if you are particular about the type of gel nail polish that you use. Many brands, like Orly Beauty, create nail polish that is completely free from harmful chemicals. This is the best way to enjoy having manicured nails without the stress of the possible detrimental effects of toxic chemicals. 

How to Keep Your Nails Healthy after Gel Polish

If you do prefer to use gel polish on your nails, there are ways that you can still keep them healthy. 

Apply SPF 

You should always take care of your hands. The first step is to apply a form of SPF sunscreen to your hands regularly to prevent aging and skin cancer, but especially just before a gel manicure. 

is there formaldehyde in nail polish

Generally, with this type of manicure, you will be required to place your hands in a UV light, which assists to dry the polish onto the nails. A layer of sunscreen protects your hands from any harmful effects of the UV rays. 

Don’t Pick Off Gel

As tempting as it might be, you should never try to pick off your gel nail polish. This will cause serious damage to your nails. 

Rather use methods that remove the gel nail polish safely, with minimal effects on your nails. This helps you focus on the benefits of nail polish, rather than the damaging after-effects. 

Plus, don’t leave gel nail polish on your nails for too long, as this will weaken the nail plates. Try to soak off the gel no longer than 3 weeks after it is applied to keep your nails healthy. 

Moisturize Your Nails

Always keep your nails hydrated. 

Applying hand creams or oils to your hands, and then focusing some of it on the nail area, will prevent dryness and weakness in the nails. 

Cuticle oil is key. Invest in a small bottle and apply it to your cuticles at least twice a week, to keep them healthy. Dry and cracked cuticles can be an entryway for infection, so this is key to avoiding that. 

is nail polish bad for you

Take a Break From Gel

A constant pattern of applying the gel, soaking it off, and reapplying it is not healthy. Nails do need a break from polish.

Try to fit in 2-4 week periods every few months where you don’t apply gel to your nails so that they have time to rebuild.


Gel nail polish is a fantastic option for those who want minimal maintenance and a professionally manicured look that will last weeks. 

But, it is key to do this in moderation, and take additional steps to protect your nails from physical damage, as well as protect yourself from any harmful chemicals..

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