How to Prevent and Repair Damage to Nails After Your Wedding Gel Manicure

The pros know best!

Updated 01/09/19

Tenth and Grace

Your wedding day nails might just be the most important bridal beauty step. Don’t @ me—just think about it! From wedding ring shots to photos with your bouquet to even shaking hands with guests all night, your hands will never get this much attention again. Brides, understandably, will do anything to get their digits in order before their wedding, including gel manicures and other nail enhancements.

A gel manicure is perfect for busy brides because of the wearability. Unlike a regular manicure, gel polish will last for up to two weeks, taking you from your rehearsal dinner through your entire wedding weekend. Other nail enhancements last even longer. Some brides opt for acrylics or extensions to give their hands a more dramatic vibe to match their overall bridal look.

Between endless color, shape, and length options, there are many benefits to gel manicures—but, with all those positives, there's the possibility for potential damage if not done properly. “The benefits outweigh the risks in my opinion of getting a gel polish manicure,” says celebrity manicurist Michelle Saunders. “When applied properly, they should adhere to the natural nail for up to two weeks. When removed properly it should come off easily and effortlessly. If it doesn’t, than it’s not gel polish.”

The best way to ensure you are getting a top notch job is to go to a professional. Celebrity manicurist Fleury Rose can’t stress that enough. “Your nails should not sustain a lot of damage to begin with if the enhancement has been done by a skilled professional,” she says.

But sometimes, unfortunately, botched nail jobs happen. Luckily, there are a few things that brides can do to repair (and prevent) any nightmare nail damage, and we caught up with some top nail gurus to get the scoop.

Research the salon and the technician before you book

Before you get too far into your appointment, there are some things you should look out for at the salon. “The salon should be clean, sanitary, and use branded nail products,” Fleury Rose says.

You can call the salon or manicurist beforehand to make sure you are comfortable with the products they will be using for your service of choice. “Many ‘chop shop’ salons use a product called MMA acrylic which is highly toxic and damaging, but a cheap alternative to real acrylic,” Fleury Rose continued. “If the price is too good to be true, chances are you aren’t going to receive a quality service.”

Prep your nails

While too much prep shouldn’t be required before your appointment—leave that to the pros—there are a few things you can do all the time to make sure you nails are ready to go. “Always moisturize and always use cuticle oil!” Fleury Rose recommends.

Get them professionally done

“The risk mostly lies in where you go to receive the service,” Fleury Rose points out. “An experienced nail professional can perform both a gel or acrylic manicure safely, with minimal damage to the client's nails. Being referred by a friend or researching the salon is important. It’s also important to be sure the salon is using high quality, brand name products.”

Get them professionally removed

The real window for damage opens when it comes to removal. As much as you might want to try on your own, it’s best left to the pros. Fleury Rose says, “Never pick, rip, or pry them off...no matter how tempting it might be!” If money or time is a concern, Saunders recommends watching a tutorial on easy removal, before you give it a try.

Know how to spot a bad job

Both Fleury Rose and Saunders say you can spot a bad job even before you take your nails or polish off. “A good nail enhancement does not hurt!” Fleury Rose assures. “If you’re experiencing pain during or after the service, that’s a huge red flag.”

During the process, be wary if your manicurist is excessively filing your fingernail before application as this can lead to more damage. Saunders adds, ”They should stay on, not chip, and feel comfortable.”

Be patient

If you do find yourself with a nail nightmare, one of the best remedies is patience. It will take time for your nail to be restored to its original glory. Fleury Rose says, “Your nail needs to grow out the damaged portion for it to return to optimal health.”

Use a nail oil

While you’re waiting for your nails to grow, nourishing them with oil can help their appearance. Saunders recommends keeping your nails short and getting a regular manicure in the meantime. “Remember nails themselves are ‘dead,’ just like hair,” she says. “If they become dry and damaged, just trim the nails short so new growth can come in.”

Saunders and Fleury Rose recommend keeping hands and cuticles moisturized. Fleury Rose says keratin treatments like CND Rescue RX can do wonders for sad, damaged nails. For a natural option, Saunders recommends avocado and almond oils.

Courtesy of CND

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