If you are contemplating getting Gel Nails, you may be wondering how long they last. Even though I have routinely had gel manicures over the years it only recently occurred to me that Gel Nails can last a different length of time. I’ve always had my expectation but how long should I be looking for?
So, how long do Gel Nails Last? Whilst this depends on a number of factors, like the quality of the gel and how they were applied, you should be getting two weeks wear from your Gel Nails. Any less and there was likely a preperation/application problem. Any more and you risk the health and longevity of your natural nails underneath.
As this is the type of question I like to ponder, I decided to conduct some research and talk to a few nail experts to find out once and for all how long Gel Nails last.
How Long Do Gel Nails Last?
Gel Nails were designed to be long lasting; to overcome the pitfalls of regular Nail Polish and in some contexts, Acrylics.
However, getting a definitive answer to this question is not as straight forward as you would hope.
As stated above it is pretty typical to find that Gel Nails lasts around 2 weeks, however, it does depend on a few factors that affect how long that they will last.
The quality of the Gel, application practices, how the nails were prepared are just some of the things that can affect your Gels.
There have been some reports of Gel Nails lasting beyond the 2 weeks years with some even lasting anywhere between 3-4.
However, since the application of product to your nail can affect your natural nail health, you may be better off keeping it down to the 2 week mark.
The thing with Nail Applications, is that whilst they may look and feel fine, they can actually damage your natural nails if left on for too long. Remember, the health and strength of your natural nail is paramount.
Damage to your natural nails can also occur for several reasons when Gels are applied for too long.
For one, your natural nails are not exposed to air and their natural oils, causing a drying effect.
Secondly, the longer that nail polish is applied, the harder it sets and the more difficult it is to remove.
So, if you want your Gel Nails to look their best, and to ensure your natural nails remain as strong and healthy as possible, the best thing you can do is to get them removed after two weeks.
Whether this be at the Salon or by yourself, be sure to gently remove them to prevent damage or stripping to your natural nails.
The best thing is that after around 14 days, you’ll start to notice that your natural nails have grown underneath.
This will be a good indicator that its time to come off!
Things to Do to Increase the Life of Your Gel Nails
If you notice that your Gel Nails fail to last the full two weeks, thankfully there are some things that you can do to extend their life.
Here are the main ones which are also good nail practices to follow to ensure your nails remain strong and healthy for the long term.
Prepare In Advance
One of the best things you can do to extend the life of your gel Nails is to prepare your natural nails ahead of any application. To do this, you want to keep them strong and robust.
If you have weak, damaged or dry nails, Gel Nails will not be able to last as long.
So this should always be the first step. On your non-gel weeks, you can always apply strengthening polish. Just make sure you do not pick it off or this will cause more problems!
Apply Cuticle Oil Liberally
This follows in many ways from #1, but by applying a premium Cuticle Oil, you will be able to hydrate and strengthen your nails.
By applying Cuticle Oil liberally you will notice less breaking and snapping and your nails should start to grow a little quicker two.
For optimal results, it is recommended to apply Cuticle Oil daily, but if your nails are in desperate need of support 2-3 times may be required.
Personally, I absolutely love the Bee Naturals Natural Cuticle Oil which you can get for an excellent price over at Amazon.
It is so easy to use, lasts a long time and is very effective – even on the most neglected of nails!
#3 Routinely File and Wear A Top Coat
One of the best ways to preserve the health and strength of your nails is to remove any snags or hangnails.
The key is to remove these before they can cause any more damage, or they get caught and rip off a larger part of the nail.
Using a Nail File is an ideal way to keep on top of your nails and to ensure they are smooth without chips, splits or tears .
Prevention is always better than cure, and it will save you a lot of time in the long run as you will not need to wait for your nails to grow out again!
One of the best tips I was given was to carry this Glass Nail File with me when I am about and on the go.
Id recommend it, it enables you to infrequently but regularly file your nails if and when you need it.
To supplement this, a Top Coat will also help to retain shine on your nails and to protect them from exposure to any chemicals, liquids or elements that your nails come in contact with.
Ensure The Gel Is Applied Properly
While you may not have much experience or knowledge with Gel Nails, thankfully it is easy to detect problems with the application.
Air Bubbles and Lifted Edges are things to look out for, which will result in chipping in the days that follow.
If you start to see this do not be afraid to start again, or kindly ask your manicurist to do so. Remember, it is what you are paying them for!
Spend Adequate Time Drying
Perhaps one of the most laborious parts of getting Gel Nails is the drying! Sitting by the lamp can be tedious, especially if you have things to do or your time is sparse.
However, this is in many ways one of the most important parts if you want your Gels to last.
By under-curing the polish, it will not solidify as it should and you will get less adhesion which is imperative for the durability of Gels.
#6 Reduce Moisture Exposure
One of the major benefits of Gel Nails is their strength and solidity; they’re not going to chip like traditional nail polish would (and does!)
However, despite their greater durability, Gel Nails can also be weakened through regular or constant water or moisture exposure.
This is because as your nails get wet, this causes the gel to enlarge, and when it drys again, it decreases.
If this is a regular transition, your nails can start to chip and weaken. So the best thing that you can do is to keep your nails away from any water/moisture as much as you can.
A great way to overcome any potential contact is to wear gloves for tasks that you have around the home/at work that could lead to water/moisture exposure.
If you have ever heard of dry manicures (that do not utilize methods like soaking), this is the reason.
Does Gel Polish Ruin Your Nails?
Another major benefit of Gel Nails is that they were designed to prevent damage to your natural nails.
This is why they are such a great option to those of you who have weak or brittle nails and why they are often recommended over Acrylics for these individuals.
That being said, you are going to want to ensure that you apply your Gels correctly, or go to a reputable manicurist.
If the application and removal follow recommended and safe practices, then damage to your natural nails is very unlikely. These are of course, the areas where issues can arise.
Perhaps the biggest part of the process to watch out for is the removal.
Peeling the Gel off is a prime example of this; and can cause a lot of damage (even if it is convenient, cost-effective, and satisfying).
To ensure your nails remain strong and healthy; always remove your Gels appropriately roughly around 2 weeks of wear. If you don’t know how; its always best to head to the Salon!
How Long In Between Gel Nail Manicures?
By now you will know that there are a lot of benefits to wearing Gel Nails. Here’s another.
There are really no time-frames that you will need to wait in between gel manicures.
If you wanted, you could wear Gel Nails for months or years back to back without ever experiencing any implications or issues to your natural nails (as long as you are applying/removing correctly of course).
If you have weaker nails, are getting tired of the process, or your budget does not stretch, standard polish is always a good option.
By applying a nail product, your nails will be less exposed to water/moisture and will give your natural nails a chance to strengthen.
This is why you have often seen recommendations to always wear something on your nails.
Sure, Gel Nails may last longer than two weeks, but for the long term health and strength of your natural nails, getting them removed after 14 days is recommended.
If you want your Gel Nails to be in the best condition possible, you’ll never go wrong by using a good Cuticle Oil, File and Top Coat during the length of your manicure.
And if you are looking to start doing your Gel Nails at home, be sure to read my Best Gel Nail Kit Buyers Guide.
Here are some of my other guides you may be interested in:
Hey – I’m Jemma – a certified nail technician and manicurist with over fifteen years of hands-on industry experience. I created AlmondNails.com to share all that I have learned about the nail industry – from the different types of manicures available, suggestions for wear, recommendations for keeping nails strong and healthy, all the way through to providing the best nail salon tips and practices.