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Get The Safest Gel Manicure

A few preventative meaures will ensure your gel-manicured nails stay healthy.

Ah, the price of beauty: When it's time to remove our lustrous gel manicure, we’re left with scraggly nail beds. Yikes! Before brittle nails turned us off from gel lacquer for good, we asked Julie Kandalec, a celebrity manicurist in New York City for the 4-1-1 on preventing shredded beds and keeping tips in top shape. Survey the salon “Going to a reputable salon is most important for a safe gel experience,” she says. “When the product is improperly applied or removed, it can compromise the top layer of the nail.” CND Shellac and GelColor by OPI let you search for a trustworthy location near you. Remove wisely “Be sure the gel polish is being removed properly to preserve the health of your nails,” Kandalec says. “Most brands should come off with soaking. Never, ever pick it or let someone file gels off!” Take a break She recommends doing two to three sessions of gel polish for no more than two weeks per manicure (the longer you leave them on, the more time the molecules have to crosslink, making the gel more difficult to remove). Then remove the polish and do regular manicures for at least a month before going back to gels. Heap on hydration Be sure to properly moisturize nails and cuticles both during and after the removal process. Kandalec recommends applying cuticle oil at least once a day to keep nails strong between appointments. —By Cody Marick, beauty intern