5 simple ways to make your gels last longer

18th June 2020
Gel Polish Manicure Leeds

Anyone with nails knows how much effort it is to look after them… and that’s before the gels come in! This is The Beauty Assembly’s nail care bible for anyone wanting to make their perfect gel manicure or pedicure last the full 2 to 3 weeks before their next appointment.

Illustrations by @bear_patrol


We do our best in the salon to give you the perfect nail treatment, but once you’ve booked your next appointment and you’re out of the salon, the cards are in your hands. We like to call these steps our 5 Nail Care Commandments

1. Jewels, not tools

Evolution tells us that our nails are tools, but your Nail Therapist will tell you they are not  – it’s tempting when your nails are longer to use them to do things like pick the end of sellotape or open a can of pop, but whenever you do this you’re weakening the attachment between the gel and your nail and could even bend and break your nail. 

Treat your nails as jewels and be the diva who has someone else open their can of gin & tonic for them!

2. File to revive

Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to file your gels a little when necessary – after a week or two when your gels are looking a little older and if they end up chipping or peeling. It’s a hundred times better to file them a little than to peel your whole gel off or chew your nails!

Know when your nails are too long. Everyone’s nails break after they reach a certain length, and if you notice your nails getting to the breaking point, it’s safest to file them down a little. This is better than letting your nails break and will help your gels stay on until your next appointment.

If your nail snags, gently file the break so it’s not rough and won’t catch and rip on anything. This is important to protect your clothing too – the amount of times we’ve ended up ripping tights by accident because our nails have got caught in them!

3. Fix it, don’t pick it

We all pray for those salon-perfect nails to last the full 3 weeks, but we also know damage is unavoidable sometimes. If it happens, remember to treat the nail well by continuing to use your cuticle oil, filing if necessary and keeping the nail bed clean. The nail will look dry and you’ll see white flecks to begin with, which are small layers of the nail that have have been pulled up as the peeled gel lifts the top layer of your nail with it. We recommend you buff the nail with a gentle nail buffer to even out the nail surface, prevent it catching and make it shine.

It’s always handy to have a brush on nail glue at home so that if your nail breaks under the gel you can apply the glue to the breakage to help prevent further damage. 

When your gels start peeling, they need to come off – they can’t normally be repaired! If it’s within a week of your manicure feel free to book in for a free repair or replacement on the nail or nails affected. If it’s almost time for your next mani you could book your soak off earlier, or you can even soak them off at home with our step-by-step guide.

Peeling gels can be caused by many things, and we always warn clients about submerging their hands for long periods of time. This can include bathing and swimming, and can cause gels to peel because of the way the nail bed expands as it soaks in water, and contracts when dry, weakening the bond between the gel and the nail.

4. Love your gloves

So many household products can be damaging to your nails (not to mention your skin!) so here’s a quick non-exhaustive list of when to wear gloves:

  • When gardening or doing diy
  • When washing up
  • When handling chemicals (like bleach or surface cleaner)
  • When dying anything (this might not cause your gels to lift but will stain them)
  • When using alcohol-based hand sanitiser (you could replace it with Dr Bonner’s Organic Lavender Hand Sanitiser)

Cold weather can affect your nails – if you find your hands and lips are getting dry as it gets colder your nails are getting drier too! Take the time to use cuticle oil (keep one in your bag – we sell travel-sized CND solar oils) and keep your hands and nails moisturised with a non-lanolin, non-petroleum hand cream before leaving the house with your lovely warm winter gloves on. Lanolin and Petroleum are thick oils which the gel absorbs, causing them to lift and peel. Kiehl’s Hand Salve contains none of the above ingredients and is great for dry hands.

If your hands and nails are particularly dry at any time of year, you can wear overnight cotton or bamboo gloves after moisturising to nourish hands and nails (just check the ingredients list for lanolin). This is a deep nourishing treatment for your hands and nails as your body repairs while you sleep, and the protective gloves and moisturiser will help that restoration.

5. If it could stain a shirt, it could stain your nails

How many times have you stained a white top from a sloppy pizza or eating curry on the sofa? We all have, so this is how to protect your nails (and maybe your shirt!) when you’re having that posh work dinner or you’re moping about in white PJs.

There are bad oils and good oils when it comes to your nails. Oily foods (including curry, pizza, or fried foods) are in the ‘bad oils’ category as the oil will be absorbed through the gel onto your nails, making a layer between the gel and the nail, and make the gels peel off. Fried foods are among the worst because you tend to eat them with your hands – cheesy chips we’re looking at you! Food oils can also potentially stain your gels (particularly lighter colours), and this can normally be gently rubbed off with an acetone free nail polish remover and a cotton bud. If this seems too complicated for you, you can contact us to book in for a colour refresh – we’ll remove the top coat and reapply the colour for you. 

We’ve also experienced staining from dye from new clothes and ink from newspapers, photocopiers and printouts, sun cream and Chlorine.

Whatever you’d take your white shirt off to do, you should put gloves on too. 

It also goes without saying that biting your nails is never ever good for them. Gels have helped loads of us to stop biting our nails – congratulations to us! – so if you haven’t tried it as a method for biting prevention do give it a go.

A quick summary of how to keep your gels and nails safe and healthy:

  1. Your nails are porous and your gels are porous. 
  2. Using products containing harsh chemicals and thick ‘bad oils’ cause damage to your gels by causing them to lift. 
  3. Keep your gels healthy by using ‘good’ oils like shea, coconut, vitamin e, and jojoba, not lanolin, or anything containing petroleum jelly.
  4. Basically, buy a pair of gloves for every occasion!

We’re always happy to answer any questions and fix any chips, peels or stains, and we’ll see you at The Beauty Assembly for your next appointment!