How To Keep Gel Polish From Peeling? 12 Must-Try Tips

Gel polish is ideal for anybody with short, lengthy, weak nails that are susceptible to ripping or splitting. In contrast to traditional manicures, gel polish is stronger, shines brighter, and lasts longer.

You may notice, however, that after a few days the polish begins to peel and lift. 

Why does this happen, and more importantly, how can we prevent this?

Maybe it’s the way you prepared your cuticles, or how you filed your nails. Perhaps it’s neither of those things, and it comes down to a faulty UV light!

Whatever the cause may be, in today’s article we’ll be tackling the most commonly sought-after answer for how to keep gel polish from peeling.

Let’s dive into the best methods to fix (and ideally prevent) this issue!

how to keep gel polish from peeling

Why Is Gel Polish Peeling? 

There are many reasons for peeling polish, but below, we cover the most common culprits. Let’s take a closer look!

1. The Cuticles Are Improperly Prepared

The cuticle is the layer of clear skin located around the edges of your nails, and functions as a barrier to protect your new nail growth from bacteria.  Before applying gel polish, you must push the excess skin back and align them. 

Skipping this step results in the gel adhering to the cuticles instead of your nail, likely causing them to peel and lift.

2. The Nails Weren’t Filed Before Applying Gel Polish

Many people overlook this crucial step, but it’s necessary in preventing the polish from lifting or peeling. 

Filing your nails correctly before application can remove dead cuticle tissues and excess oil from your nails. 

Additionally, filing aids the adhesion between the polish and the nails by creating a textured surface for the gel to cling to. This makes it more durable, and less likely to peel.

3. Ineffective UV Light

If you cure the top coat long enough, or if the UV light isn’t powerful enough, the gel polish may begin to peel shortly after the manicure. 

4. The Nail Plate Has Excessive Moisture And Oil

After filing your nails, you must remove all dust, dirt, excess moisture, and oil. Remaining dirt or debris on the surface of your nail will prevent proper adhesion. 

5. The Gel Polish Curing Is Incomplete

The gel polish can easily peel and lift if you don’t cure it thoroughly. In this case, an incomplete cure will leave the outer surface of the gel dry, while the inside layer remains uncured and soft. 

6. Over Curing

Over-curing will cause the gel coat to bake onto the surface of the nail, creating a hardened, solidified mass; lacking in flexibility, and durability. This will inevitably lead to breakage.

7. Your Hands Are Soaked For Too Long

Soaking your hands for too long makes your nails excessively moist, creating a barrier between the nail’s surface and the gel polish. 

8. Apply Thick Coats Of The Gel Polish

Applying thick layers of gel polish to the nail may prevent it from properly curing.

Something to note: thick layers are prone to pooling, which will leave an uneven finish.

9. Skip Top Coat Or Base Coat

Applying a top coat or base coat when applying gel polish is necessary. These layers work together to prevent the gel polish from peeling. 

10. Not Capping The Free Edges

Capping the free edges of the nails is an essential step. It will seal the gap between the polish and the tip of your nails, preventing excessive wear caused by everyday tasks. Without this step, dirt, oils, and other debris can enter under the polis, and cause the bond to weaken and peel.

11. The Gel Nails Are Exposed To Extreme Conditions

Frequent exposure to strong chemicals, laborious tasks, or extreme environments makes peeling and chipping more likely.

How To Keep Gel Polish From Peeling? 12 Must-Try Tips

How To Keep Gel Polish From Peeling?

How to stop gel polish from peeling? Now that we know the causes, it’s time to consider and apply the following solutions.

1. Trim The Cuticles Properly

Soak your hand with soapy water and oil to soften the cuticles. Then, use a cuticle pusher to gently push them back. Align and trim them to create space for gel polish.

2. Buff The Nail Bed Properly

How To Keep Gel Polish From Peeling? 12 Must-Try Tips

Ensure that you properly prepare the surface of your nail with a nail file to remove any extra moisture, oil, and dead tissues.

Thorough preparation allows the gel polish and nail surface to bond together effectively.

Clean your nails and cuticles with rubbing alcohol, then apply a coat of nail dehydrator before applying gel varnish on your nails. 

3. Put A Layer Of Top Coat On Chipped Nails

For flawless gel nails, apply the base coat first, followed by your color layer, and finally, the glossy top polish.

Following the proper process will help you achieve the beautiful finish you’re looking for while also providing a long-lasting, durable result.

Fact: You can in fact put a gel polish top coat on regular nail polish, as long as you do it properly.

4. Cure for At Least 30-60 Seconds For Each Coat

While gel requires less time to dry and cure than traditional nail polish, for the most effective, thorough results, cure your nails under a UV light for 30 – 60 seconds!

This step is essential when applying several coats, as it will prevent a soft polish layer.

5. Cap The Free Edge

After filing your nails, apply a small amount of polish over the nail tip to seal the free edge.

The free edge is the part of the nail that extends past the flesh of your finger or toe. Capping it will prevent debris from permeating the layer between the gel and the surface of the nail.

6. Avoid Long-Time Contact With Water

Moisture can lift the gel coat, penetrate the layers, and cause it to peel. Don’t leave your nails in contact with water for too long, and dry your hands and nail beds thoroughly.

7. Use Cuticle Oil

How To Keep Gel Polish From Peeling? 12 Must-Try Tips

Keeping your nails moisturized and hydrated is recommended. This helps to avoid dehydration and cracking polish.

You can use a nutrient-rich oil, such as cuticle oil, to increase circulation and aid nail growth. 

Apply it generously once or twice a day for the best results.

8. Use Thin Coats Of Polish

Using thick layers in favour of speed and efficiency is not recommended, as the thick polish is prone to cracking and peeling.

The most reliable technique for a durable and smooth finish is to apply thin coats of polish.

9. Keep Your Hands Dry For Your Manicure

When your nail gets wet, it will expand and swell. As it dries, however, it begins to contract and shrink. The change in structure, size, and form, will cause the less flexible gel polish to crack and fold.

Keep your hands as dry as possible before your manicure! Moisture is the number one obstacle between you and your flawless results.

10. Don’t Use Clippers

Your nails may be growing too long, or are too sharp for your liking and you may decide to clip them. However, trimming your nails will cut open the seal between the polish and the nail surface.

If you do decide to trim your nails, be sure to reseal the free edge!

11. Don’t Use your Nails as tools

Avoid using the tips of your nails forcefully, such as prying items open. Overusing your nails can cause the gel polish to lift, crack, and peel.

12. Have Professionals Remove Your Gel

Unless you’re experienced, it’s best to go to a professional for the removal process. An experienced nail technician will be able to safely, efficiently, and thoroughly remove your gel manicure.

Specialized equipment and techniques will keep the health of your nails intact.

nail technician removing gel nail polish


Here are some questions that you may ask:

Why Is My Gel Polish Peeling Off After 1-2 Days?

An improperly cured top coat is among the most common causes of premature cracking and peeling.

In some cases, it may be due to UV light inconsistencies, such as requiring more time to cure, or issues with the polish’s formula.

Why Is My Gel Polish Peeling Off After 1 Week?

Inadequate curing, using incorrect cleaning procedures (e.g., using isopropyl alcohol between gel/acrylic layers, removing the tacky finish, preventing adhesion) can all prevent long-lasting results.

Why Do My Gel Polish Peel Off In One Piece?

Your gel paint coat may peel off in one piece because the curing process is incomplete between layers on your nails. 

These uncured coats remain soft, therefore, are unable to bond to the nail. This causes the gel paint to come off as one piece.

How Long Should Gel Nails Last Before Peeling?

Gel manicures will often last 2 – 3 weeks before they peel, chip, or lift. 

However, this coat may have a short lifespan due to external and internal factors.

How Often Should You Renew Gel Nails?

The average lifespan of gel nails is between 2 – 3 weeks before they begin showing signs of wear, tear, and overgrowth. 

After this time, or when you start noticing signs of damage, you should renew your nails. 

Wrapping Up

Your gel nails can peel, chip, or crack for several reasons, like over-curing, poor preparation of the cuticles, or excess oil, debris, and moisture. 

So, what’s the secret behind how to keep gel polish from peeling? 

Prepare your nails thoroughly, leave them enough time to cure, keep your hands dry before the day of your manicure, and apply cuticle oil to moisturize your nails and skin. 

If you have further questions on this topic, comment below to let us know! We’re eager to share our knowledge with you. Thanks for reading, we hope to see you in the next post!