How do I wean myself off gel manicures?

Nails Illustration: Edith Pritchett/The Guardian
This week, Chioma from London feels her nails have been weakened by salon gels.

I love having chip-free nails, but I do think they are weaker since I started having gel manicures a few years ago. However, celebrity manicurist Robbie Tomkins says that done correctly, gel or other treatments should cause minimal harm: “Most damage I see is caused by aggressive removal by an inexperienced technician or someone peeling off their gels.”

And a recent study showed that the UV dryers used in gel manicures can cause DNA damage to hands. “If nail health is a concern,” Tomkins says, “take a complete break from polish and use a strengthening treatment.” Protein Formula’s no 4 treatment is good for weak nails; CND RescuerXX is great for flaky ones.

I’m afraid the break has to last a while: fingernails only grow about a tenth of an inch (2.5mm) a month, so complete regrowth can take up to six months.

My remedy is to treat myself to nail-rescue products: textures, scents and brands that are a pleasure to use can feel as much of a treat as a manicure.

You need a good nail oil after repair treatments. To avoid drying your nails further, use rubber gloves for washing up and apply hand cream regularly.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, see your doctor: iron deficiency, circulation issues, hypothyroidism and psoriasis can affect nail health.