We've all seen the funny-because-it's-true meme going around on Instagram: the dark roots and grown-out gels some of us have to look forward to when we emerge from our periods of social distance and self-quarantine (hopefully sooner rather than later). With hair and nail salons across the country doing the right thing by closing their doors to limit the spread of COVID-19, self-care measures are evolving from outsourced to DIY.
But for those prone to stress-induced nail biting, picking, or mindless gel-ripping, you know the reality: Once those two-week-old soft gels start to lift up around the edge of your cuticle, it's hard to resist taking it a little further...
Maybe you already have, or you're just a hangnail away — and that's where this guide comes in. Ahead, three simple tips to rehabbing your post-gel manicure from the comfort of your couch.
Start With A Self-Care Mindset
Step one is taking a deep breath. Even if you know that ripping off gel polish can be damaging to your nail bed — and the safest method of DIY removal is an at-home acetone soak wrapped in aluminium foil — don't beat yourself up while you're staring down at a pile of gel flakes. We're all still learning how best to cope with the stress and anxiety we're experiencing, and nail pro Sarah Gibson Tuttle, CEO and founder of L.A. nail brand Olive & June, says an at-home manicure can be super helpful.
"While you spend more time at home, frame your DIY manicure as an enjoyable self-care moment," Tuttle says. "At night, after your work is done, put on a TV show and create a zen space where you can experience the joy of taking care of yourself, starting with your nails."
Buff & Clean
Once your nails are bare, you want to start by fully cleaning the nail plate, which celebrity manicurist Mazz Hanna says restores the nails to their natural state. "Now that your nails are gel-free, use the less coarse side of a buffer to gently smooth any roughness left on the surface of the nail," she instructs. Then, if your tips are broken or jagged, Tuttle recommends reshaping them using a nail file just to smooth and round the edges.
Rehab The Nail Bed
Whether you're taking a break from polish altogether or repainting at home, the steps to bouncing your nail beds back to optimal health looks the same: reparative base coat, cuticle oil, and hydrating hand cream. Nail pro Jin Soon Choi recommends thinking about your nail-care routine as you would your skin-care routine. "You want to care for your nails with restorative nutrients like coconut and avocado oil to bring the shine and lustre back to your base," Choi explains. She recommends the brand-new HyperRepair base coat from her eponymous brand, which can be worn with or without polish on top. "Then," she says, "you should make sure the surrounding skin on your hands and cuticles are rehydrated as well."