Editor Tested: How We Recovered from Gel Manicures

Editor Tested: How We Recovered from Gel Manicures
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It’s no secret the damaging effects gel manicures can have on nails. The good news is the beauty market is filled with strengthening formulas that promise healthier-looking digits with each application. Suffering from weak, brittle nails and desperate for help, InStyle.com’s beauty assistant Jennifer Velez tried three different treatments over the course of one month. Read all about her road to recovery below.

My name is Jennifer Velez and I suffered a two-year addiction to gel manicures. I used to hit the nail salon every two weeks to get my no-chip fix, hardly ever taking any breaks in between. While I wasn’t crazy about the removal process or those questionable UV lights (I always applied sunscreen beforehand), I quickly became obsessed with how long the shiny finish would last and I started to believe I’d never be able to go back to regular polish—until I no longer had an option.

For a while, I was in denial of the damage I was causing my once-healthy nails by not allowing them to breathe, but the lack of oxygen eventually took its toll and I had to finally admit I had a problem. Let’s just say the results weren’t pretty. Paper thin doesn’t even begin to describe the condition they were in. My nail beds were completely bendable and suddenly waiting for the gel to cure under those hot lights became so painful, I had no choice but to kick the habit. While my nails don’t look quite as bad as when I first stopped getting it done, they’re still in recovery mode more than a year later.

These days my concerns include everything from dryness and breakage to unsightly ridges that I obtained a few months ago while getting my cuticles trimmed (long story), so I was definitely the perfect candidate to take some of these new and improved nail strengtheners for a test drive.

RELATED: Editor-Tested: These Gel Manicure Shields Are Like Armor For Your Nails

Deborah Lippmann All About That Base CC Base Coat

I was immediately intrigued when I found out Deborah Lippmann had launched All About That Base ($20; sephora.com), a CC base coat for nails. Similar to the CC creams that are designed for your skin, the multitasking product is packed with everything you need to cure your nail woes in one quick step. I applied a thin coat and followed up with some polish like the directions advised, but I like that it could also be worn alone for a nude, matte finish. So far, my nails haven’t been breaking and my ridges are no longer noticeable. But one of my favorite things? It helps my manicure last a few days longer than usual. Based on that factor alone, I’ll continue to use.

RELATED: 4 Incredible Nail Art Designs Inspired by the Red Carpet

Perfect Formula Repair Coat

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After hearing my story, assistant beauty editor Marianne Mychaskiw handed Perfect Formula’s latest treatment
($28; perfectformulas.com) over to me, and I’m so happy she did. It boasts strengthening ingredients like jojoba oil, biotin, keratin, and vitamin E, and it’s actually designed to repair nails after the harsh soaking off process required by UV gels and acrylics. All you have to do is apply to clean nails, let dry and follow with a second coat if you desire. Like Deborah Lippman’s base coat, you can apply any color right over it as you let the formula work its magic. My nails truly felt stronger after just one use and they don’t revert to their old ways after I remove it. That’s a miracle-worker, if you ask me. I'd certainly recommend to anyone who's struggling with similar issues.

Nails Inc. NailKale Illuminator

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I love Nails Inc.’s Nailkale range so I was excited to try the line’s Bright Street Illuminator (14; sephora.com). It features iridescent pearls to instantly brighten up dull tips and because it’s infused with kale extract, it’s said to nourish the nail bed and prevent breakage. While it definitely gave my lackluster nails a boost of shine and kept them from peeling, it didn’t do much to hide those pesky imperfections (like those little white dots I'm still waiting to disappear). Though as my nails continue to look healthier overtime, I’ll definitely keep this on hand when I’m in the mood for an all-natural appearance.

PHOTOS: The 10 Prettiest Winter Nail Polishes

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