I Wore Gel Nail Polish For FIVE Years And This Happened …

And this is what I did next …

Remember when gel nails first arrived? I sure do. I was a Beauty Editor at The Sunday Telegraph at the time and a new gel nail company offered to come by my office and apply this amazing-sounding new nail product right at my desk.

So I said YES PLEASE. Because well, who wouldn’t?

The fabulous new nail lacquer was applied in 20 minutes or so. Unlike regular polish, it was cured or set in a cool little light box and voila – my fingernails were gorgeous with rock-hard, seriously shiny nails that did not chip or break for three glorious weeks.

I was so impressed I wore this mind-boggling new gel nail product for the next five years. Yes. FIVE years.

Of course, as anyone who has ever used gel nails will know, my fingernails always looked amazing. I had that just walked out of the salon look only ALL the time! At least, I did until the day I decided to quit using them and discovered that the health of my natural nails was now somewhat dubious.

The colour on my nails were now distinctly yellow and looked as though I’d smoked a carton of cigarettes every day since birth. The nails themselves were thin and fragile too. Bummer.

Mavala Delicate Collection, $8.50.

I knew that something had to give and so I went to Tracey Winder, manicurist and Mavala National Trainer, and begged for help. Firstly, she confirmed my worst fears. Gel nails worn long-term are not the best. Sigh.

“Wearing gels for such an intensive period without a break is harmful to your nails in several ways,” said Tracey.

“Some nail polishes, in particular gel ones, are non porous. They occlude the nail, suffocating it from airflow and resulting in a weaker, softer nail. This weakening of the nail surface has a knock-on effect on the nail bed and root, which sees critical blood and nutrients flow reduced. This impacts nail growth and can result in a poorly formed nail plate.”

Super bummer.

And it gets worse. Apparently, removing gel nails with acetone creates a further myriad of issues from dryness through to peeling and brittleness.

That is why it is important to detox between cycles of gel nails and allow the nail time to recover, said Tracey.

Whilst in recovery mode, it’s all about treatment and feeding the nails with topically applied products and a diet rich in vitamins and minerals.

Apparently, a key mineral for nails is silicium, which is literally like ‘cell cement’ and helps nails to grow faster and more resistant.

Mavala Nailactan Nail Cream, $31.95.

“I always advise clients to use an intensive nail treatment cream or serum, rich in high performing ingredients that will combat dryness and nourish the nail,” added Tracey, who likes Mavala’s Nailactan Nail Cream.

“It’s crammed with essential amino acids, lipids and vitamins. It nourishes the nail, counteracts dryness and helps to restore elasticity to the nail plate, thus strengthening nails.”

Her final piece of advice to me and my sad nails. Show them some love.

“Your nails will need a lot of TLC in the detox and recovery period to restore natural nail health,” said Tracey.

“The average cycle of nail growth is three to five months, so I would advise infrequent application of gels to maintain optimum nail health year round.”

And when they recover I can tell you exactly what I’ll do … get gel nails again. Because let’s face it – they are ACE! Only this time, I will give my nails a break from time to time. And that way, Tracey won’t have to provide all this advice all over again.

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