Spoiler alert: It might not be the manicurist's fault.

By Alyssa Clough
Updated July 09, 2015
Let us count the ways this manicure advancement has simplified life: long-lasting color (10 days to two weeks), instantly dry tips, and loads of shine. Doing an at-home gel manicure is just like doing a regular one—except you're curing the color onto your nails with an LED light. That LED is an investment. You'll need to buy a gel-mani starter kit, like the Red Carpet Manicure Starter Kit ($65, amazon.com). But stay with us here: It's a onetime purchase, after which you can simply replenish the polishes.Step 1: Prep your nails: Remove old polish, file tips, push back cuticles, and trim hanging skin with a nipper.Step 2: On each nail, paint on a layer of the gel base coat that comes with the kit.Step 3: Place four fingers of one hand (index to pinkie) under the lamp for about two minutes (times vary by lamp); repeat with the thumb for the same amount of time. (If you cram in all five digits of one hand, the LED may not reach each nail, says Kiyo Okada, the New York City manicurist who worked on this story.)Step 4: Repeat with two layers of the gel color and one of the clear gel topcoat that comes with the kit, curing nails for the time instructed between each coat of polish.
Barbara Donninelli

This article originally appeared on MIMI.

Have you ever been told your nails are too weak for a gel manicure? Join the small (and embarrassed) club. The first and only time a manicurist suggested I ask for a regular manicure next time, I was too caught off guard to get more details. The incident occurred at my regular salon where I was always pleased with the results. But just like she predicted, my gel mani chipped only one day later. Alas, I finally backed off.

To get the skinny on if weak nails can really cause a gel manicure to chip, I consulted manicurist Gracie J of The Editorial Nail. And as we all know, I can't resist picking my nails—whether they're real, gel, or acrylic—so I need all the help I can get.

For starters, Gracie J insists, "Any type of enhancements should only be applied to healthy nails. Period." That means no gel mani if you have weak, dry, or peeling nails. Period. Not only will your manicure chip easier, but it will only make matters worse. If peeling off your gel manicure before hightailing it to the salon to get another is part of your bi-monthly routine, it might be time to break your habit, like, cold turkey. If that's not an option, try alternating between a regular and gel manicure and make sure to follow Gracie's guide to healthier nails and a gel mani that will last longer than a day, guaranteed.

1. Find a salon that carries quality products and keep going back to them.

She says specifically to find "someone who improves the health of your nails, knows how to properly apply the product, and knows what works for you." Basically, do your research and become a regular.

2. Moisturize your nails (religiously) like you do your skin and hair.

We slather lotion onto our skin and deep condition the crap out of our hair, so it makes sense we need to pay our nails the same attention. So regardless if you have gels, moisturize your nails to keep them healthy and prevent damage. Gracie's favorite products include Essie's Apricot Cuticle Oil ($8.50, ulta.com), Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil ($20, net-a-porter.com), and CND Solar Oil ($8.50, ulta.com).

3. Get your gels removed at the salon—or else!

While we all know we should be doing this, most of us don't (guilty as charged). But if you do get your gels professionally removed, your nails shouldn't be weakened. On the other hand, peeling off your gels—even if you have the healthiest, strongest nails—will result in weakened, damaged nails. Message received.

Unfortunately, improper prepping, application, and your day-to-day routine can also cause your gel mani to chip. So next time you're left wondering if your nails are weak or if you need to find a new salon, the answer might be both.

For more tips, tricks, and nail art inspo, follow The Editorial Nail on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.