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Can You Use Gel on Weak Nails?

Rubber Base Gel

Can you use gel on weak nails? This is a burning question I get often from my audience and the answer is it depends. As someone who has seen many different types of nails for the last couple of years, one thing I can tell you is that all weak nails are not the same. Understanding what makes your nails weak is crucial in deciding whether or not a gel manicure is a good option for your natural nails.

If your nails have been weakened and damaged by a bad trip to the nail salon, then gel is not a great option for you. If your nails are healthy and you want to give your nails a little extra support, then gel is a good option for strengthening your nails. Let me explain why this distinction is so crucial to understand.

This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase. 

Can you Put Gel on Damaged Nails?

Applying gel on damaged nails is something I wouldn’t recommend. I have had people reach out to me in the past who struggled with gel damage and decided to use builder gel to try and strengthen their nails. Let’s just say that builder gel nails did not help get their nail beds in shape. Below are things I noticed happened when someone with nail damage used gel nail polish.

can you use gel on weak nails

3 Reasons Gel is Not Good for Damaged Nails

1.Won’t Stick- The gel lifted from their nail plate in 2 days. Why?! Because gel does not stick well to thin nails that got that way because of damage. Oftentimes, people think lifting is caused only caused by poor nail prep.

However, the condition of your nails plays a big role in how well gel will stick. If your nails are weak and peeling(or you have brittle nails), your gel polish will peel too. That is why having good nail health is crucial in getting your gel nails to stick.

2. Increase Risk of Allergic Reactions- Your nails aren’t on your fingers just for beauty. They play a very important role of protecting the skin underneath your nails. When the nail has been thinned out by a rough removal process, protective layers of your nails are removed. This means that the chemicals in gel polish can more easily absorb into your nail which can increase your risk of getting a gel allergy.

Note: I do not recommend using any nail enhancement on nails that are lifting from the nail plate. Your nail bed is exposed and gel base coat ot gel top coat can get directly on your nail bed.

3.Further the Damage- If you have a lot of surface damage from a bad salon visit, applying gel can further the damage. Why?! Gel sticks very tightly to your nails. If the nail is already peeling, the gel will worsen the peeling when you remove the gel with cotton balls.

Rather than working on recovering their nails in 1-3 months, they prolong the cycle of damage for 1-3 years. The good news is that there is a much better way to stop nail peeling which I go over in my Nail Rescue Guide

What Type of Weak Nail Work Well With Gel?

Weak nails that work well with gel are nails that are healthy but may need some extra support. By healthy, I mean no nail splitting, peeling, lifting, or white spots.

can you use gel on weak nails

I have noticed that some people have naturally bendy and flexible nails. They become bendy because their nails are over-moisturized. This can happen due to genetics(ex: some people have very oily skin).

What makes this nail a little tricky, is that using cuticle oil is not going to make this nail stronger. This is because its weakness is caused by too much moisture. What I have found to help strengthen naturally bendy nails is a thin coat of rubber base gel. Rubber base gel is flexible enough to move with the bendy nail type, while also giving it an extra layer of protection and support.

Can You Strengthen Nails with Gel?

As long as you have healthy nails, you can strengthen your nails with a special type of gel called structured gel. Structured gels like rubber and builder gel give your nails an extra coat of protection so they don’t break as easily and you can read more about rubber vs builder gel here.

What Type of Gel Strengthens Nails?

Rubber Base Gel

Not all gels are made the same. The regular color gels you see on Amazon won’t do much to strengthen your nails. The type of gel you would look for the get stronger nails is what you call structure gel. The most popular types of structure gel are rubber and builder gel.

When you put these gels under the lamp and cure them, they don’t crumble easily like regular gel polishes. One of my favorite rubber base gels is from IKON.IQ nails. It’s a soft gel and is also hypoallergenic. Read more about hypoallergenic gel here

For a beginner who is interested in applying structure gel, I would recommend 1-2 coats of rubber base gel. Builder gel requires more advanced techniques.

Also, I recommend staying away from the hard gel. This is because hard gel can not be soaked off with nail polish remover(100% acetone). It has to be filed off with an e-file or regular nail file. Even when it is filed off with an e-file, a thin layer is left. I have a client now who got hard gel before coming to me. We now are growing out and clipping off the nail with leftover hard gel. 

What to put on Weak Nails that have been Damaged by the Nail Salon?

A good place to start is with nail oil. This will help encourage healthy nail growth and these are the 8 best nail growth oils.

If you Could Repair your Damaged Nails in 1-3 Months, would that be Worth it to You?

The Nail Grow and Glow club is a nail health club that I created to get you healthy beautiful nails without the salon. If you are ready to take the guess work out of nail care and want to show off your healthy nails confidently, then I invite you to join the Nail Grow and Glow Club waitlist.

Join the Waitlist and Repair Your Damaged Nails


1.Is a Nail Strengthener Good for a Damaged Nails?

  • I would not recommend nail strengtheners for damaged nails. This is because nail strengtheners don’t make your nails strong, they just make them hard which causes further damage.

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