Gel manicures

If you’re sick of chipped polish and always seem to wreck your newly polished nails immediately, a gel manicure may be a perfect style solution. A gel manicure looks great, dries quickly and can resist chipping two to three times longer than a traditional manicure. We have all the details to help you decide if this procedure is for you.

Woman showing off manicure

How it works

A salon technician prepares your nails as she normally would during a manicure (cuticles pushed back, nails filed). She then buffs your nails to help the gel polish adhere and dries the color under a UV light for a few minutes after each coat. This technique results in a hard, dry finish — you can reach for your wallet immediately after application, sans smudging or chipping. You can remove the color with pure acetone polish remover, found at most drugstores.


Gel-manicured nails stay pretty and chip proof for much longer than a regular or home manicure — at least two weeks. That makes gel manicures a good option when preparing for vacations and big events, especially if you can’t get to the salon on the day of.

Other benefits

  • No chipping even in extreme conditions such as heavy lifting, working with your hands a lot or even camping
  • Instant drying — no waiting around or asking the salon technician to reach into your purse to fish out your car keys
  • Hard surface that resists even those of us who absently pick at our nails
  • Shiny finish that stays glossy for as long as the manicure lasts

Where to get it

Sally Hansen Nail strips

Gel manicures are becoming more and more common, so they are available at many salons. Just ask wherever you normally get your nails done. Some salons list them on the menu as gel manicures, while others offer branded versions (same procedure, different name) such as Opi’s Axxium Soak-Off Gel Lacquers. You can expect to pay about $20 over the price of a traditional manicure, which seems like a lot — but becomes more economical when you think about how long it lasts.

an At-home alternative

To get a similar (though not as long-lasting) look at home, try Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips ($9.99 at Walgreens), which come in 24 fashionable shades and last up to 10 days. Simply peel and stick the polish (which looks like colored tape or small stickers) onto each nail for a shiny, just-polished look.

More about nails

Paint your nails blue for spring
Will you wear 3D nails?
6 Ways to make your manicure last


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