Everything You Need to Know About Gel Pedicures

Everything You Need to Know About Gel Pedicures

Gel pedicure treatments are becoming popular in the cosmetic world. Using gel instead of traditional polish is said to make the pedicure last longer, without chipping. The gel also provides a smooth, clean look. But, there are drawbacks as well, including potential skin damage from UV light.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a gel manicure can be a great way to give your toenails a beautiful lasting look. It simply must be done correctly, with all of the proper safety precautions in place.

Because of the potential risks, though, many people find themselves asking if a gel pedicure is right for them. Is it worth it when compared to a traditional pedicure? How much does it cost? There are questions that are still unanswered for people considering this treatment.

This article will cover the benefits of getting a gel pedicure. We’ll also touch on a gel pedicure vs. regular pedicure, so you can determine which treatment will fit your needs the best. If you’re someone who frequently gets manicures or pedicures, knowing what to expect is important for the overall safety and health of your feet and toenails.

Is a Gel Pedicure Better Than a Regular Pedicure?

Throughout the benefits listed in this article, you’ll find comparisons between gel nails and regularly polished nails. More often than not, it comes down to a matter of preference. There are benefits to both, and drawbacks to both. However, the benefits of a gel pedicure can greatly outweigh the disadvantages, when it is applied correctly.

The more you know about the benefits and the right safety precautions to take, it’s likely you’ll be more inclined to choose a longer-lasting gel pedicure over the traditional method.

Shorter Drying Time

When you get a traditional pedicure, the most tedious part is waiting for your nails to dry. At a salon, you can expect to have at least four coats of polish added onto the nail, including a base coat and a top coat. If you choose to get nail art, you’re adding even more polish to the mix.

The polish layers can feel dry to the touch in about twenty minutes. However, your nails won’t be fully dry for about three hours. Chances are, you’re not going to sit in the salon for three hours and wait – you’ve got to get back to your life. Unfortunately, if your toenails aren’t completely dry, you’ll risk damaging the pedicure almost immediately.

From simply putting your shoes on and walking around, to polish getting stuck on socks, or stubbing your toe, etc. There are so many things that could happen in that three hour drying period that could mess up the beautiful work you just had done with a traditional pedicure.

A gel pedicure works differently when it comes to drying. Gel nail polish is usually applied with three coats, including a base and top coat. Once the polish is on, your nails go into a ‘curing’ process. This is done with some type of UV light, and typically takes about two minutes per coat. Once the curing process is complete, you’re left with a rock-hard pedicure that won’t chip or smudge.

They Last Longer

Even if you’re able to keep a traditional pedicure intact until it dries completely, they don’t seem to last very long. For the amount of money you’re spending (an average of $35-$40 at most spas), they might only last two weeks. That includes touch ups and reapplying a top coat to keep the polish protected.

A gel pedicure will last at least two weeks without chipping or peeling and can last up to three or four. The only reason it doesn’t last longer is that your nails will naturally start to grow out. A gel pedicure is $40.00+ at a salon, so you’re getting twice the value for the same price as a traditional pedicure. You don’t need to buy extra polish to touch up the nails, and you won’t need to reapply a top coat every few days just to keep them looking fresh. Not only does this save you money, but it can save quite a bit of time, as well.

Because both types of pedicures cost a fair amount of money, it’s not surprising that most people want to choose a solution that will last the longest. For the expense of a professional pedicure, using gel polish bumps up the value, and will leave your nails looking perfect for a longer period of time.

Intense Shine

Gel pedicures provide a brilliant, glistening shine that won’t dull over time. Once the top coat is cured, it works like a glossy shell, keeping the color looking radiant and jewel-like. The formula used in gel pedicures also keeps the color from losing its luster. This gives your nails a sort of ‘wet’ look even after a couple weeks of wear, offering the appearance of freshly-painted nails all the time.

Easy to Work With

If you’re a nail design fanatic, it’s worth it to give gel nails a chance. Gel polish is easier to work with than traditional polish when it comes to creating innovative and interesting designs on your nails. Whether you give yourself a pedicure or have it done at a salon or spa, the design(s) you choose for your toenails will likely appear cleaner and more defined with gel polish than with traditional polish.

As stated above, the design won’t fade over time and will continue to look glossy for weeks. Of course, this is more of a personal preference, but it’s something to consider if you want your nails to look different for a holiday, special event, etc. You can add additional coats of gel polish safely, making sure to cure them each time for lasting brilliance and glossiness.

Natural Looking Nails

If you choose to have a French pedicure and don’t want a colored polish, gel nails will look closer to natural, healthy nails than a traditional clear coat. The gel pedicure will give your nails a healthy shine that is perfect for any elegant occasion, or everyday wear. Plus, just like the colored polish, it will last longer and won’t chip, so your nails will look naturally beautiful and perfectly manicured for weeks. Plus, they will be stronger and won’t break as easily as traditionally-pedicured toes.

Protects Your Nails

Because of its quick-hardening properties and shell-like coating, gel polish actually helps to protect your nails from external elements. Many people try to accomplish this with acrylic nails, but those can get expensive and messy. A gel pedicure will strengthen and harden your nails for weeks without having to add any additional protective layers.

If you’re very active, this is a great way to keep up with your busy lifestyle while keeping a beautiful pedicure intact. If you like to wear open-toed shoes often, you don’t have to worry about your nails chipping or breaking. Instead, you can continue to show off your polished toes for weeks.

Very Little Upkeep

If you’re used to getting acrylic nails, you know that they usually have to be ‘filled’ every now and then to keep them looking fresh. There is little to no filling involved with gel pedicures. You simply get the treatment one time, and it will last for weeks. If you want great-looking nails without having to worry about constant maintenance, a gel is a sound option.

It will remain just as strong from the minute it’s applied to the minute you choose to take it off. Because there is no chipping, you don’t have to worry about finding exact color matches, or ruining your entire pedicure because of one little spot.

Great for First-Timers

If you’ve never gotten a professional pedicure before, consider a gel treatment. They don’t take as much time because they dry faster. Additionally, the products and tools used are odorless. Oftentimes, traditional pedicure solutions come with a very distinct smell that can become irritating and bothersome to some people. Whether you want a natural-looking French pedicure or a fun and funky design on your nails, starting with gel is a great way to introduce yourself to salon-quality nail treatments.

If you’ve never given yourself a manicure or pedicure at home, using gel polish is another easy way to get started. It’s easy to clean up and is very forgiving if you make a mistake before curing. It is also worth the investment to consider giving yourself a gel pedicure at home since they last quite a while. We’ll include a step-by-step guide for application in this article.

Lasts Longer with Maintenance

If you want your pedicure to last even longer, you can take the time to file your toenails regularly. If your gel polish isn’t chipping at all after a couple weeks, but your nails are starting to grow, simply file them down and enjoy the look and benefits of the polish even longer.

While filling in and maintenance isn’t required, it is an extra step you can take to increase the longevity of your polish. Traditional pedicure polish typically won’t last long enough for this process, so you’re stretching out your dollar on your gel pedicure even more.

Perfect for People with Nail Trauma

If you’re regularly embarrassed by your nails because of disease, or you’ve recently experienced some type of nail trauma, a gel pedicure is a great solution. Regular nail polish lacks the durability and longevity that gel polish holds. It won’t adhere to nails as well, so the unsightliness you’re trying to cover up will continue to come through faster.

Gel pedicures can cover up damaged or discolored nails, offering full coverage for weeks at a time. Plus, because of the hardness of the polish, once it’s cured, it won’t chip away to reveal any of the embarrassing parts of your nails you’re trying to hide.

If you have a nail condition, such as toenail fungus, be careful when using treatments like this. Your toenail needs to have the ability to breathe in order for the infection to begin healing. Look for antifungal nail polishes to make the process more beneficial.

Easy to Remove

For as strong and lasting as it is, gel polish is actually very easy to remove when you’re ready for something new. To remove, simply soak the nails into an acrylic remover for about five minutes. You can then ‘rip’ the polish away. It should all come off in one thick layer right away, with no additional buffing or filing necessary.

How to Apply Gel Nail Polish

If you’ve never had a gel pedicure before, you may want to have one professionally done at a salon to make sure it’s something you like. From there, it is actually very easy to do your own gel pedicure in the comfort of your home. Use the following steps as a guide:
  • Trim your nails and file them to your desired size and shape. If your nails tend to grow quickly, you may want to file them a bit shorter.
  • For best results, push back your cuticles with the appropriate tool. This will give you a clean and well-manicured look, and will keep the polish even on your nail. You may not think this is as necessary on toenails, but it can make a big difference in how they look at the end of the process.
  • Buff the nail surface with a buff blocker to ensure the polish adheres smoothly and evenly.
  • Be sure to cleanse your nails and the surrounding skin with sterile alcohol wipes. Your nails need to be as oil-free as possible.
  • Apply a base coat to your nails. There are many different brands to choose from, but a base coat will work as a foundation for the polish itself. Once the foundational coat is applied, cure it with an LED or UV lamp until set.
  • Apply a coat of the polish of your choice, and cure under the same LED or UV lamp. Repeat with a second coat of polish if desired.
  • Once the polish is fully dry, apply a clear top coat, and cure it using the same process.
  • With the top coat cured, you can wipe off your nails using sterile alcohol wipes to get rid of any lingering tackiness.

Home Application Tips

  • An LED lamp will cure the polish in as little as 30 seconds, while a UV lamp typically takes about two minutes for each coat.
  • Try to avoid getting polish on your skin or cuticles. If you do, remove it before curing that coat. If you cure a coat of polish on your skin or cuticles, it could cause chipping.
  • Re-application is simple if you make a mistake, as long as you fix it before curing that coat. If you do mess up, simply wipe away the mistake with alcohol and reapply before putting your nails under the light.

Is Gel Nail Polish Safe?

For as many benefits as there are to using gel polish, it hasn’t been met without some controversy. It isn’t necessarily the polish itself that causes potential risks, but the process used to complete the entire pedicure. Certain people should avoid getting a gel manicure/pedicure. Be aware of the following potential risks:
  • If you have weak or brittle nails, they may not be able to hold up to the process of a gel pedicure. This is especially true when it comes to the removal of the polish. It may cause chipping or breaking of the nail.
  • A gel pedicure should be avoided by anyone who has a sensitivity to UV light. One of the biggest issues associated with gel pedicures is exposure to UV rays. Over time, these rays can become harmful, and have even been associated with skin cancer.
  • You should not get a gel pedicure if you are pregnant, due to the potential harm from UV lamps. LED lamps are considered safer, but they also emit UVA light.

What Are the Disadvantages?

Safety risks aside, there are some disadvantages to consider before using gel polish, too. No product is perfect, and it’s up to you to decide if you’d like to continue with traditional polish or make the switch to gel. Some of the most common disadvantages and drawbacks include:
  • Thick gel coatings may prevent your toenail from getting the natural light they need in order to receive nutrients. If they aren’t able to receive these nutrients properly, it could lead to problems with growth.
  • Some people find it painful to withstand the feeling of hardening gel polish under a UV light. Typically, it’s a minor discomfort but may affect some people more than others.
  • If the pedicure is improperly cured, you may experience damage to the nail or nail bed. Always go to a trusted salon or spa, and make sure to follow detailed instructions before performing a gel treatment on yourself.

What Precautionary Steps Can I Take?

Thankfully, the risks behind most gel pedicures can be greatly lowered when the proper precautions are in place. Whether you’re giving yourself a pedicure, or going to a salon or spa, make sure these steps are taken to ensure your safety:
  • The right polish must always be used – not only for best results but for your health. Using the correct polish and curing lamps is the first step in protecting yourself. Different polish formulas work with different lamps, so if you’re doing it on your own, be sure the two can work together successfully.
  • Protect yourself from UV light as much as possible. It may seem silly, but wearing fingerless gloves as you cure your polish is an effective way to protect your hands, and still allow the light to penetrate through the polish and harden it. Additionally, you can apply sunscreen to your hands with an SPF of at least 30. You don’t have to apply sunscreen to the nails, only the surrounding skin.
  • If you’re not sure whether or not you are sensitive to UV light, contact your dermatologist for more information. Even if you’re not highly sensitive to these rays, protecting yourself from regular exposure is important.

Is it Worth Getting a Gel Pedicure?

As you can see, there are many benefits to gel pedicures. When compared to traditional methods, they last longer, they are stronger, and they can even protect your nails from the elements of everyday life. If you frequently get pedicures, they can be a new alternative that doesn’t require reapplication as frequently. If you deal with any type of toenail discoloration or nail deformities, this type of pedicure can also hide any embarrassing features.

Of course, there are a few potential risks and drawbacks. Gel pedicures are increasingly popular in the salon world. However, as they have continued to grow in popularity, they have also continued to grow in controversy.

Most of the time, the benefits of this specially formulated polish and process far outweigh the disadvantages. The biggest concern with gel polish and the procedure is exposure to UV light. This has been linked to skin cancer. If you protect yourself from these powerful rays and take breaks between pedicures, you can significantly lower your risk. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of gel polish.

We hope this article has been informative. With so much debate surrounding gel manicures/pedicures, knowing the full list of benefits can be helpful in making a decision on whether or not it’s the right process for you.
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