Gel manicures have become a lazy girl’s lifesaver for years now, providing gorgeous, glossy nails that last weeks without a touchup. And yet, we’re not fools. We know each new beauty invention comes with its own set of complications. For example, removing gel polish can have long-term damaging results, and the growth phase can look seriously sloppy. We’ve compiled a list of simple hacks to fix any DIY or salon problem that comes your way.
Stay Ahead of Chips
Although a curing of a gel topcoat would be ideal, reapplying a traditional top coat over your gel will still prevent chips. A week after your trip to the salon, reapply a top coat by first running the brush along the top edge of the nail to seal the tip and then cover the entire nail.
If you’ve managed to survive two weeks with no chips, there’s only one problem left—regrowth. As your nails grow out, your cuticles appear larger. To make the surface area appear smaller, apply a coat of glitter polish over the entire nail, focusing more on the tip to make the ombré effect appear intentional.
Skip the Salon for Removal
We admit the best form of removal is a trip to the salon—some will even do the service for free. But if time doesn’t permit, try this simple routine (it also works for removing stubborn glitter polish). Soak a cotton ball in acetone polish remover, place it on the nail, and keep it steady by wrapping aluminum foil around the nail. Let sit for 10-15 minutes and then wipe the nail with the cotton ball. If the gel doesn’t slide right off, allow the acetone to sit on the nail for another 3-5 minutes.
Take a Break
There’s no need for a full-on breakup, but it is essential to take 2-4 week breaks at a time from your gel manicures. The color pigments dry out the top layer of the nail, leaving it weak and thin. With a short break, your nails will repair themselves, growing in thicker, in as little as two weeks. For a soft shine, use Sally Hansen Miracle Cure for Severe Problems Nails ($5.79, target.com).
Promote Long-Lasting Results
It’s been proven that DIY gel kits don’t last as long as the salon version. But here’s a simple hack to add days to your mani: Soak your fingernails in a mix of water and white vinegar. The vinegar strips the nail of oils left over after cleaning with polish remover. This prevents bubbles, and the polish sticks better, lasting longer.
Create a Barrier with Vaseline
One of the biggest turnoffs with at-home gel kits is that any polish accidentally applied to the skin dries hard. To make cleanup easy, line your nails with vaseline before painting. You can then easily remove the vaseline and any polish attached.
Because these polishes can be thicker, application can look amateurish. For a gel that’s similar in texture to regular polish, use Shellac versions. They’re more flexible, therefore less likely to crack and will apply smoothly.
Read more: 20 Life Hacks For Your Beauty Routine