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How Often Should You Take A Break From Gel Nails?

Gel nails can help keep your hands looking beautiful for weeks, but having them applied too often can lead to damaging your natural nails.

So, how often should you take a break from gel nails? So, you can keep your nails as healthy as possible, and minimize any long-lasting damage. Keep on reading to find out the answer! 

Woman having her gel manicure removed with nail polish remover

How Damaging Are Gel Nails For Your Natural Nails?

While having long-lasting and shiny nails can be attractive, the truth is that gel nails can be damaging to your natural nails.

Gel nails require the use of a UV or LED light to cure, which can lead to thinning and weakening of the nail bed.

The harsh chemicals in the gel polish can penetrate the layers of your nail and cause discoloration, peeling, and brittleness. Regular gel manicures can leave your nails feeling dry, brittle, and weak.

Overuse of gel manicures can even cause an infection beneath the nail. The damage caused by gel nails is often difficult to reverse, as the surface of your nails may remain thin and weak even after you’ve stopped using them.

Why Do Gel Nails Damage Your Nails?

Gel nails damage your nails because the nail plate, which is the protective layer of cells at the top of your natural nail, is exposed to harsh chemicals more regularly than with regular manicures.

These products are designed to bond to the natural nail bed and as they are removed to reapply a new set, they also remove some layers of the nail plate.

This can cause thinning of the nail plate overtime, which leads to weak, brittle and even damaged nails in extreme cases.

It is difficult for oxygen and moisture to reach those areas underneath gel nail extensions, and this can contribute to an unhealthy condition for your nails called hyponychium.

The lack of oxygen combined with moisture deprivation can lead to discoloration and brittleness on both artificial and real nails alike due to poor nail health. 

Nail technician applying a gel nail base coat to a client's nails

How Often Should You Take A Break From Gel Nails?

The removal of gel from the surface of the nail and reapplication of a new layer can be extremely damaging to the nail.

Therefore, it’s important to let your natural nails breathe. How often should you take a break from your gel manicure?

Experts suggest that nail polish wearers take breaks from gel and acrylic manicures for several reasons.

First, gel manicures need to be removed and reapplied every two weeks.

This causes wear and tear on the nail cells, and can lead to ridges in the nails and a condition called keratin granulation.

This occurs when columns of keratin rise up through the nail bed, which can leave the nail feeling rough and weak.

It’s important to give your nails a break from time to time by taking several weeks off from gel manicures.

During this time, try using a strengthening or repair serum to help keep your nails in tip top shape. You can also use nail oil to help keep them hydrated.

Ultimately, how often you take a break from gel nails depends on your individual needs. Those who have weaker nails may need to take breaks more often than those with strong nails. 

5 Signs Your Nails Need A Break From Gel Manicures

When it comes to nail care, many people choose to get regular gel manicures for that perfectly polished look.

But overdoing it with the gel can lead to damage and harm your nails. Here are five signs that your nails need a break from gel manicures: 

1. The first sign that your nails need a break is when they start to become brittle and weak or chip easily after being applied with the gel.

This usually happens when the nails have been exposed to too much moisture or heat, which makes them prone to cracking or breaking more easily. 

2. When you notice yellowish discoloration or white patches on your nails due to overexposure of UV light used in curing gel nail polishes and treatments, this is an indication that they are in desperate need of some rest.

3. You should also be careful if you notice any kind of pain or discomfort in your fingers and hands, as prolonged use of gels can cause irritation and redness from the hormones present in them. 

4. As well, if you start seeing white spots appear on your nails, this could mean dehydration has taken its toll on them, so it’s best to give them some downtime for recovery. 

5. Lastly, if you find yourself experiencing fungal infections often from getting regular gels, then it is time for a break, and remove gel nails.

Woman with nude gel nails holding a bottle of nude nail polish

Can Gel Manicures Lead To Brittle Nails?

The answer to this question is a bit complicated. On the one hand, most gel manicures can actually strengthen and protect the nails.

Due to the combination of the sturdy polish and the bond it creates with the natural nails. This combination can indeed make for a stronger nail that is less prone to splitting and breaking. 

On the other hand, if your gel manicure is removed improperly or there is damage to the nail, such as from heavy or repetitive use, it can cause brittleness.

You also want to avoid leaving your gel manicure on for longer periods of time; if it’s not removed after two or three weeks, it can damage the natural nail underneath.

Therefore, if you’re afraid that gel manicures may lead to brittle nails, the best thing you can do is ensure that you follow all the steps for proper removal and maintenance of the gel polish. 

Woman with a French Manicure gel nails holding a bottle of nail polishes

Can Gel Nails Harm Your Cuticles?

Cuticle damage often occurs when too much force is used to remove the gel polish, or by using tools such as metal cuticle pushers.

This can hurt and tear the delicate cuticle tissue around the nail, leading to infection and irritation.

Removing gel nails incorrectly with acetone-based removers can also dry out and damage your cuticles.

To prevent this, it is important to use a quality remover that contains moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E or lavender oil, which will help keep your cuticles healthy and prevent peel back from occurring over time.

Another way to reduce potential harm is by avoiding contact between gel manicures and hot water.

As this could strip away moisture from around the nail bed and weaken your natural defenses against bacteria or other germs entering through cracks in the skin.

Lastly, nail experts recommend regularly moisturize your hands with a quality hand cream whenever possible so that you can keep your manicure looking fresh while still nourishing the area around each finger tip.


Gel nails can be a great way to achieve a beautiful, long-lasting manicure look. However, it is important to use caution and take breaks from gel nails to keep your natural nails healthy and minimize any potential damage. 

It’s recommended that you give your nails at least two weeks between each gel manicure or switch up the type of manicure you get, like regular polish or dip powder.

If you begin to experience discoloration, brittleness, or pain around the nail beds, it’s time for a break, so it doesn’t lead to nail damage long term.

Be sure to use an acetone-free remover when removing gel polish and massage cuticle oil into your nails frequently, to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated and moisturized.