So, You Peeled Off Your Gel Manicure . . . Now What?

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  • While gel manicures are extremely convenient, removing them can be a headache.
  • Of the numerous ways to remove gel nail polish, peeling it off may damage nails the most.
  • We asked professional manicurists how to nurse nails back to health after peeling off polish, with product recommendations ahead.

There's a reason your nail technician would never recommend you peel off your gel manicure, and it has a lot more to do with harming your nails than it does getting you back in their salon chair.

"Manicurists stress this rule so frequently because we can almost guarantee that you will be left with nail damage," celebrity nail artist Rita Remark told POPSUGAR. "This is because gels are formulated to bond much tighter to nails than traditional nail polish. It makes the manicure last much longer but requires a bit more patience to remove. I think it's a fair exchange."

What's more, OPI's education manager Sigourney Nunez told us that peeling off gel polish can result in delaminating your natural nail plate, which can weaken the nails and make them look worn-out. "When you peel the gel polish off, it's not just the color you're removing, it's very likely you're peeling off a layer of your natural nail plate, too," she said. "It makes your nails brittle and sustainable to breaking."

Still, you definitely wouldn't be the only person who's ever found yourself picking off your paint the moment some minor chipping starts to occur. If you've resorted to peeling off your gel while you're unable to get to a salon — and if you've noticed some damage — you might be wondering what you can do to nurse your nails back to health.

"You can top your nails with a nail strengthener to ensure your nails restore to a health state and as strong as possible," Nunez said. Nail strengtheners are products that give weakened nails a boost, and they won't put too much of a dent in your wallet, either. Some good options include OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener Original Formula ($18), Essie Treat Love & Color Nail Polish ($10), and CND RescueRx ($20).

To go with your strengthening treatment, Nunez also recommends regularly using a cuticle oil. "When you apply cuticle oil and massage it in, it can promote nail growth," she said. "Keeping your cuticles moisturized will prevent your nails from staying brittle and breaking." If you're looking for some reliable options, try OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil ($16), Sally Hansen Color Therapy Nail & Cuticle Oil ($9), or Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($9).