Avoid Nail Damage With Proper Gel-Polish Removal

(Article courtesy of Nails Magazine)

“Gel-polish should come off easily with no heavy-handed or forceful scraping,” says Doug Schoon, president of Schoon Scientific and renowned nail industry chemist. “If you have to force the product off at all, you are doing something wrong.”

Schoon is passionate about this issue because he’s concerned that the improper removal of soak-off gel-polish is rapidly becoming the biggest problem in the nail industry.

Incorrect removal is causing pits, cracks, and scrapes on clients’ nail plates, often appearing as small white spots on the nails. And many nail technicians are failing to identify this as a problem.

According to OPI chief scientist Paul Bryson, the most common reason why nail plates are injured during a soak-off gel removal is because nail technicians do not let the product soak long enough to fully break the bond to the natural nail.

“Most of the time they’re not letting the nails soak for a long enough time, and when they go to remove the gel they pry or peel it off,” notes Bryson. “When they do this, they take part of the natural nail plate off with the gel.”

This result is a thin layer of the natural nail getting pulled up and causing divots and pockets in the natural nail bed.

What’s worse is that when clients notice the damage and ask their nail technicians about it, many technicians respond by saying that it’s a natural part of the gel process and merely a dehydration of the nail plate from the acetone.

White spots on nails after a gel-polish removal are the tell-tale sign that the gel-polish was removed with too much force and that damage has been done to the natural nail plate.

White spots on nails after a gel-polish removal are the tell-tale sign that the gel-polish was removed with too much force and that damage has been done to the natural nail plate.

“This is misleading,” says Jim McConnell, president and head chemist of Light Elegance. “Because acetone does remove oils from the nail, but the nail plate itself is not damaged by the acetone. The culprit here is the keratin layer in the nail enduring trauma when the gel-polish is forced and pried off the nail.”

Nail professionals do care about their clients’ nails, but all too many are passing this problem off as being caused by the acetone and that the nails are fine for another application.

But acetone is not the problem causing these weakened nails. “You can soak nails in acetone all day and you won’t see any white spots,” says Schoon. “The whole nail might look dry if you leave it in there for days, but the acetone is not the issue. It’s when nail techs see that these gels are not coming off after 12 minutes and they’re just scraping them off.”

Soak-off gel-polish is designed to soak off quickly and easily. But some nail techs cut the full soak-off time short because they think if they can remove the product quickly, even if resorting to a little force, then the nail is OK for another application and they’ve shaved some time off their total application procedure.

Danielle Candido is the northeast regional manager of education for Hand & Nail Harmony, and she says that nail techs need to heed to the manufacturer’s recommended soak-off times, while still understanding that some clients may require a bit more time for an efficient soak-off procedure.