Gel Manicures: Just How Safe Are They?

Written by Sierra Hamilton | Reviewed by Linda Simko Last Updated: March 16, 2024

If you want to know more about gel manicures, this article covers the general consensus regarding these nail care products. It also reveals whether they are safe or not, and under what circumstances they can be used.

Women have a lot of options when it comes to getting their nails done. They can get regular manicures or they can use fake nails. The old tradition was to apply acrylic nail manicures which are essentially hard coats that make the nails stronger, glossier, and more beautiful. These days however, gel manicures are becoming the more popular choice. You can see these things in nail salons, spas and even buy them off the rack at your local drug store. But one has to ask though: just how safe are gel manicures?

Understanding What Gel Manicures Are

Gel Manicures Just How Safe Are TheySo what are gel manicures in the first place? In many ways they are just like acrylic nail manicures – the beautician has to apply a base coat, a color coating, and then a protective layer. These layers have to bond to the natural nail surface so that they harden and become one with the nail.

Acrylic nail manicures harden by air exposure. You can just leave them out to dry and they’ll be ready in ten or so minutes. Gel manicures get this process done much faster since they only harden when under UV light.

The finished product also shows a difference: gel manicures look like real nails when compared to an acrylic finishing. Like most manicuring jobs they make the nails look longer, more beautiful, and helps maintain a more “perfectly shaped” trimmed look.

But Are They Safe?

The general consensus is that gel manicures are safe when done by professional beauticians but they can lead to all sorts of problems:

  • They aren’t as sturdy as acrylic nail manicures even though they cost twice the price. Gel manicures could shatter when the nail is accidentally ripped or pulled and the damage will require immediate assistance.
  • Over time, your real nails could suffer from long exposure to the gel base coat. There have been indications that the original nail surface could become coarse and dry if the gel coating is kept for too long so always make it a point to remove the gel manicures once they’ve been on for more than a few weeks.
  • The damage cannot be immediately repaired at home since the only way to adhere them is with UV light. While the nail is damaged it is prone to infection from bacteria and fungus.
  • Lastly, there are ongoing studies regarding whether or not the UV exposure could cause skin cancer around the nails. There has been no significant confirmation that the exposure could cause skin burns or cancer but it doesn’t mean that the danger doesn’t exist, either.

Is It Still Recommendable?

If you are going to use gel manicures for a special occasion and if you plan to have them removed instead of filling them in month after month then yes, they are still safe and fun to use. If you are going to be using them for a long period of time then the dangers far outweigh the benefits and it is highly suggested that you do not follow through with gel manicures. The adage that goes… too much of anything is a bad thing applies for gel manicures, especially since the dangers of UV light exposure is still being determined.

If you want to use gel manicures, no one should stop you from using these. But again, just don’t over do it!


  • Sierra Hamilton

    Hi, I'm Sierra Hamilton, the founder and main author of My journey began as a salon enthusiast, and over time, I came to recognize the challenges many face when comparing services and prices across different salons. Tired of the opaque pricing in the beauty world, I was inspired to launch My mission is simple: to offer a platform where visitors can access accurate and up-to-date price listings for a myriad of beauty services, streamlining the decision-making process. I'm deeply committed to ensuring everyone can make informed and confident choices about where to indulge in their next beauty treatment.

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