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.