Can gel nails damage natural nails if not removed properly?

Gel nails,  concerns about potential damage to natural nails often arise, particularly if the gel nails are not removed properly. In this article, we will explore whether gel nails can cause damage to natural nails and the importance of correct removal procedures.

Understanding Gel Nails and Their Application

  • Gel Nails: Gel nails are a type of artificial nail enhancement applied over natural nails. They are made of a soft gel-like substance that is cured under a UV or LED light to create a strong, glossy, and long-lasting finish.

  • Application Process: Gel nails are applied by a nail technician who first cleans the natural nails, applies a primer, adds the gel layers, and cures them under a UV or LED lamp.

Potential Damage to Natural Nails

Improper application, maintenance, or removal of gel nails can lead to damage to the natural nails. Some potential issues include:

  1. Nail Thinning: Over-filing during the preparation process or excessive buffing to create adhesion for the gel can thin the natural nails over time.

  2. Nail Weakness: Incorrect removal procedures or frequent removal of gel nails without giving the natural nails time to recover can weaken the nails.

  3. Nail Dehydration: The acetone used in gel nail removal can dehydrate the nails if not followed by proper moisturization.

  4. Nail Discoloration: Prolonged use of dark or intensely pigmented gel nail polish can cause nail discoloration.

  5. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the chemicals present in gel nail products.

Importance of Proper Removal

Proper removal of gel nails is crucial to prevent damage to natural nails. Here's why:

  • Prevents Nail Weakening: Correct removal procedures help preserve the nail's integrity and prevent weakening caused by excessive buffing or forceful removal.

  • Maintains Nail Health: Proper removal helps maintain the health of the nails, ensuring they remain strong and free from infections.

  • Avoids Pain and Discomfort: Incorrect removal methods can cause pain, discomfort, or even injuries to the nail bed.

  • Promotes Nail Growth: By removing gel nails correctly, you promote healthy nail growth and allow the nails to recover.

Correct Gel Nail Removal Process

  1. Gather Supplies:

    • Acetone
    • Aluminum foil
    • Cotton balls or pads
    • Cuticle oil
    • Nail file and buffer
  2. Soak Cotton in Acetone:

    • Cut the cotton into pieces and soak them in acetone.
  3. Wrap Nails:

    • Place a soaked cotton piece on each nail and wrap with aluminum foil.
  4. Wait for Soaking:

    • Allow the nails to soak for about 15-20 minutes to soften the gel.
  5. Gently Remove Gel:

    • Gently push off the softened gel using an orangewood stick.
  6. Moisturize Nails:

    • Apply cuticle oil and massage it into the nails to rehydrate them.


Gel nails, when applied and removed properly, do not inherently damage natural nails. It is essential to follow correct procedures, avoid overuse, and allow your natural nails to recover between gel nail polish applications. If you have concerns about the health of your nails, consult a professional nail technician or a dermatologist for guidance on maintaining strong and healthy natural nails.

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