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How To Stop Gel Nails From Peeling

Are you frustrated with your gel nails peeling off after only a few days? If so, you’re not alone. I’m going to explain how to stop gel nails from peeling, as well as share 9 reasons your gel nail polish might be peeling prematurely.

So, you can follow these tips and tricks to avoid having to keep reapplying your nail polish. Keep on reading to find out all about how to keep your gel manicure in place, for longer…

Woman with gel nails and a nude colored manicure

What Causes Chipped Gel Polish?

Chipped gel polish is one of the most common issues among manicure enthusiasts.

This can be caused by a few different things, such as not properly prepping and cleaning the nail before applying the polish, not completely curing under the UV/LED lamp for enough time or having trouble with adhesion of the gel polish to the nail surface.

Wearing gloves too often or neglecting proper care of your nails may cause premature chipping due to weak nails that are unable to withstand wear and tear.

Lastly, improper removal methods can contribute to chipping as well if you aren’t careful when removing it yourself at home. 

To avoid this problem, make sure everything is properly done during application and take extra care when removing old gel polish quickly but gently using cotton balls soaked in acetone remover.

What Causes Gel Nail Polish To Peel? 9 Reasons Your Gel Nails Are Peeling!

When you treat yourself to a professional gel nail manicure, you expect your polish to last for weeks without chipping or peeling. But what happens when your gel nails start to peel prematurely?

To understand why gel nails peel, it’s important to first understand what makes gel polish so durable.

Gel polish is applied to the nail in layers and is hardened with a UV or LED lamp after each layer. This creates a much thicker, longer-lasting coating than traditional nail polish. 

But despite its durability, there are still certain factors that can cause your gel nail polish to peel prematurely.

Some of the most common reasons include improper application, inadequate curing, and incorrect removal methods. If the gel polish is applied too thickly, it will not adhere to the nail properly and may start to peel off.

If the gel polish is not cured correctly (either not enough time in the lamp or incorrect wattage), it will not adhere properly and start to peel.

If you try to remove your gel nails yourself, rather than returning to a salon, you could end up damaging the top layer of your nails, resulting in premature peeling. 

Taking all of these factors into consideration, it’s easy to see why proper application, curing and removal are so important when it comes to preventing premature peeling of your gel nail polish. 

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons your gel polish peels…

Woman choosing a new color for her gel manicure

Your Nails Are Too Moist

When nails are too moist, it causes the surrounding skin to expand and contract with changes in hydration levels.

This expansion and contraction weakens the adhesion of gel nail polish to the nail surface.

Gel nail polish is designed to last up to three weeks, however with frequent changes in hydration levels, this time period can be drastically shortened.

The moisture trapped underneath the gel can also cause bubbling or cracking on top of the protective layer as it expands and contracts while trying to release itself from your nail.

A dryer environment will help create a strong barrier between your nails and gel nail polish so that it can effectively adhere for longer periods of time.

You Are Applying Thick Layers Of Gel Polish

Applying thick layers of gel polish can lead to premature peeling and chipping. This is because when you apply too much of the polish, it prevents air from getting to the natural nail underneath.

Without air, the nail bed has difficulty drying out the polish, which can cause it to separate from the nail surface, leading to an issue where your gel polish is peeling. 

When too much of the polish is used, the layers become thicker and more difficult for the nail to support.

This can cause the polish to peel off more easily than normal. To avoid this, make sure to use thin, even layers when you apply your gel polish, to prevent gel nail polish peeling issues.

Your Gel Nail Polish Has Expired

Gel nail polish that has expired can lead to peeling or chipping of the nail. This is because the formula of gel polishes breaks down over time, which affects the quality and consistency of the product. 

When exposed to the air, light, and other environmental factors, the polish begins to harden and become thick.

The thicker it gets, the harder it is to apply an even layer on the nails, even for a nail tech, and even with regular polish – not just gel or acrylic nail polish. 

This can then cause an issue with a weak adhesion between layers and uneven wear, when you apply gel polish, which can all cause peeling or chipping when not done properly. 

Since gel polishes harden with exposure to air or light from a UV/LED lamp for them to dry correctly; having an expired base coat would result in weakened adhesion between each layer that could ultimately result in chipping once cured.

You Are Not Curing Your Layers Of Polish For Long Enough

If you don’t take the time to properly prep your nails and cure each layer of polish, your gel polish won’t last as long.

The UV rays from the curing lamp will get blocked by thick layers of polish, meaning that the nail beds won’t get the full effect of the curing process.

Without properly cured layers of polish, the bond between the polish and the nail won’t be strong enough to support itself and is more likely to start peeling after only a few days.

So if you want to prevent your gel polish from peeling, make sure you’re taking the time to properly cure each layer, including the topcoat and gel base coat.

Woman with a nude manicure with glitter and sparkles

You Didn’t Remove Grease From The Nail Plate

If you leave your nails with too much residue, it can lead to peeling and lifting of the gel polish.

Grease deposits on the nails interrupt adhesion between layers of polish, resulting in an ineffective seal between them. 

When this happens, there is no bond preventing water from getting behind them and causing them to bubble up and lift off. 

Gel polish cannot grab onto a clean surface when covered by oils, so if you don’t remove any residual oils before application, very soon your manicure will start peeling or lifting at the edges. 

You Didn’t Use A High-Quality LED Nail Lamp or UV Nail Lamp

One of the reasons why your gel polish is peeling, is because you’re using a low-quality LED nail lamp or UV nail lamp, the amount of time that it takes to cure the polish may not be sufficient for a full cure, leading to the gel polish being less resilient and more prone to peeling. 

LED lamps and UV lamps require a certain level of wattage for proper curing, and if the wattage is too low, it won’t be able to efficiently cure the polish, which could then lead to gel polish lifting away from the nails.

You Didn’t Cap The Free Edge Of Your Nails

When you don’t cap the free edge of your nails when applying gel polish, it can lead to peeling. This is because the uncapped edges of your nail become exposed to air and quickly break down.

As they dry out, they will start to chip away at the polish, causing it to come off in patches and strips.

Without extra support from a cap over the tip of your nail, there’s nothing stopping the outer layers of your nail from expanding outwards, making them more prone to snagging and peeling away from the basecoat layer.

Dirt particles are also more likely to get trapped under these unsecured edges, creating an abrasive surface that can cause additional wear and tear on your manicure.

You Use Your Nails As Tools

Using your nails as tools can lead to gel polish peeling over time. Your nails are delicate and easy to damage, so it’s best to use a tool that has been designed for the job. 

If you must use your nails, it’s best for them to be in tip-top condition first, from the tip of the nail, to the base of the nail, with your cuticles.

You should start by using a nail file, and file your nails, followed up by using cuticle oil to keep the edges hydrated and healthy. 

Once they’re looking their best, you can safely apply polish – but don’t ignore any signs of chipping or peeling, as this is an indication that something isn’t right about the manicure process.

Woman with pink and gold nail art on her gel manicure

You Didn’t Apply A Layer Of Top Coat To Seal Your Gel Manicure

If you did not apply a layer of top coat to your gel manicure, then it can lead to the premature peeling of the gel polish. The purpose of the gel top coat is to seal off all the layers of nail polish and keep them in place.

Without it, nails will start to chip away early on because they are not fully sealed. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you always apply a thin coat of clear topcoat after every gel application. 

This will keep your nails looking great for up to two weeks without any premature peeling of gel polish.

Another thing that helps with preventing your manicure from prematurely chipping is keeping your nails moisturized between applications and buffing them lightly with a nail file before re-applying polish.

Top Tips On How To Stop Gel Nails From Peeling

Having great looking nails without having to go to the salon is something that everyone desires, and gel nail polish can help achieve this.

However, if you’re not sure what the best tips are on how to stop your gel nails from peeling, then read this paragraph for some top advice.

Firstly, make sure that you remove any previous polish completely before applying a new thin coat of polish.

This will ensure that there are no air bubbles when curing it in the UV or LED lamp and will also prevent any peeling due to all layers being able to bond correctly.

Using a quality nail file is essential too, as it smooths out the surface of your nails before applying the gel so that they adhere more easily and last longer.

Giving each layer time to dry properly between coats is important too, as rushing through won’t allow them to bond together correctly, which will lead to cracking and chipping over time.

A topcoat at the end of your manicure should be applied as well, as this helps protect your manicure from everyday wear and tear and prevents any color fading over time.

Make sure you work with thin layers too; using too much may cause bubbling or gaps when curing in the lamp, which can weaken the adhesion in areas, leading to early peeling off.

Cleaning off any excess dust particles with a rubber cuticle pusher after filing acts like an invisible barrier between your polish doesn’t stick properly onto dirt or oils – leaving you with long lasting results.

How To Fix Peeling Gel Polish

If you’ve noticed that your manicure has started to peel, don’t worry because it can be fixed. The first step is to gently file away the peeled areas of nails with a fine grade buffer, removing any excess gel.

If the peeling isn’t too extensive, then you can apply fresh gel and place them under a UV or LED lamp for curing purposes.

You might need to also buff around the sides and tips of your nails to ensure better adhesion between the old and new layers of gel. 

Once dry, wipe off any residue with an alcohol-soaked lint free pad to avoid smudging your work and create a clean surface for adding more coats of polish.

Make sure that each layer is cured after applying until the color looks even across all nails.

Finally, add one more generous layer of top coat over your entire design for added protection against chipping and peeling in the future.

This should fix up any small chips your nails are showing, caused by wear and tear – as long as you take care of them regularly with regular cleaning and reapplication of topcoat every few days – you should get a good two weeks out of each manicure.

How Can Cuticle Health Cause Your Gel Polish To Peel?


Gel nail polish is a great way to get longer lasting manicures for up to two weeks. But despite its durability, if the appropriate steps aren’t taken during application and removal, it can cause premature peeling of your gel nails.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you have properly cleaned the nail surface before application, that each layer is cured sufficiently in a quality UV or LED lamp, and that your topcoat layer fully seals off the design.

Always make sure to avoid any activities that may damage your nails or cuticles as this will also put your manicure at risk of peeling prematurely, with the perfect smooth nail surface.