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Are gels safe? Several clients have asked why we do not use regular gel polishes so we felt it required a response

We do offer award-winning Maggie Anne which has a “gel-like” finish.  One client, who runs and swims in the sea every day, told us hers lasts a month – right up to her next pedi with us.

Basically, gel polishes are not good for your nails or your health.


One of the reasons is the acetone soak that is required to remove the gel and the actual chemical composition of the gel polish. Acetone severely dries out your nails and causes irritated skin (dermatitis) so a “soak” is certainly not a good move.

Another consideration is the exposure to harmful acetone vapours.  Even short term exposure can irritate eyes, throat and lungs.  Breathing it in can give you headaches, and long term use can cause dizziness and vomiting – we don’t want to subject our clients or our therapists to this.

Toxic trio

Several nail polishes, including gel polishes, may contain bad ingredients such as di-butyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde – known in the industry as the toxic trio.   You can read more about them here.  Di-butyl phthalate is an endocrine disruptor, toluene is considered toxic and can cause reproductive damage,  headaches and dizziness. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.

UV light

Most gel manis and pedis require exposure to either a UVA or LED lamp.  In an interview with Marie Claire earlier this year, Dr Stern, a well-known dermatologist and nail specialist from New York, said research is still needed to establish the real risks and advises clients to wear finger-tipless gloves or pedicure socks before exposure to UV light or to apply broad spectrum SPF.  Read the full article here.

Damage to nails

A study out of Miami School of Medicine used ultrasound to demonstrate that gel manicures do cause nail thinning.  According to Dr Stern, it’s unclear whether this is due to the gel or the acetone remover.

Slave to it

Speak to anyone who has gel polishes and you’ll mostly find they are locked into it, because without it, their nails are weaker, flakier and generally of poorer quality than before they begun and they can’t break the cycle.

Our stand

Brooklyn Greenspa is proud to use Maggie Anne and Beauty Without Cruelty for our nail treatments. Both are cruelty-free in addition to being vegan-friendly.  Neither contain the “toxic trio”.  Both of them have wonderful colours of nail polish and both lines use nail polish removers that do not contain any acetone! Come in and experience our manicures and pedicures with gentle, nail-loving Maggie Anne and Beauty Without Cruelty!

Yes, you may have to wait a bit longer for it to dry, but you’re welcome to sit and relax in a private room, with a cup of our signature lemon water.  Or why not pamper yourself with a 15 minute neck and shoulder acupressure treatment and go out feeling really chilled?

Let us know your experience of gel treatments in the comment box below.  We’d love to hear from you!