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Gel Nails vs. Jamberry Nail Wraps

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, September 08, 2016 | 11 comments
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Image: Jamberry Nails over Gel Nails
Wearing a Jamberry Accent Nail wrap over gel nails
Let's talk about Gel Nails - the ones you do at home under UV lights. Do you use them? Do you love them? Tell me why!

I have had two family members say they use gel nails - and I wondered... What are the pros? What are the cons?

So I thought I would do some research. This was the first thing I found - which is scary when you have such a strong family history of cancer, like my family does!

The Skin Cancer Foundation has officially released a statement on the popular procedure. Elizabeth Hale, MD, the foundation’s vice president said:
Research has shown that ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting devices are carcinogenic to humans. Although studies have shown that the skin cancer risk associated with UVR-emitting nail lamps for gel manicures is very low, it is not insignificant. The risk, according to anecdotal research, is greatest for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common skin cancer. An estimated 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths. SCC is mainly caused by chronic UV exposure and is very common on the hands and around the fingernails. Source

The statement recommends to apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 prior to getting a gel manicure, although I have seen other recommendations of at least SPF 30. Does this new warning concern you, or will you still get gel manicures?

Image: Royal Nails Anti UV Gloves For UV Light/lamp Nail Dryer Only Nail ExposedHere is an interesting option...
Royal Nails Anti UV Gloves For UV Light/lamp Nail Dryer Only Nail Exposed
-- These Anti-UV Gloves protect your hands from harmful UV rays during gel treatments. Made from certified materials that block harmful UV rays, these gloves slip on and off easily. Machine-washable. One size fits most.
Click for more info
Another interesting option!!

DIY Gel Nails (No UV light)
-- Did you know that you can do your own gel nail manicure at home using your own normal nail polish and no UV light? It will make your nails look thicker and freshly polished even after two weeks. Click for more info

Image: American Classic Gelous Nail Gel Base Coat Nail PolishAmerican Classic Gelous Nail Gel Base Coat Nail Polish
Bonds directly to the nail as a protective barrier
Contains Keratin a fundamental component of nails
Creates a protein-rich coating
Adds measurable thickness
Instantly strengthens, hardens and reinforces weak nails
Click for more info

Let's compare Gel Nails versus Jamberry Nail wraps:

Benefits of Jamberry Nail WrapsCHEMICALS:
Gel Nails: Check your ingredients - BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) is considered a carcinogen; Methacrylates can cause skin to redden, itch and swell; The cumulative effect of nails, fingers and hands being exposed to the UV light increase the health risk of skin cancer, especially nail bed melanoma, a particularly difficult type of skin cancer to treat.

Jamberry Nail Wraps: Non-toxic, formaldehyde-free, no harmful chemicals - also gluten-free, latex-free, cruelty-free

Jamberry Nail Lacquer: 5-Free - free of the top five cancer-causing chemicals: Toluene, Formaldehyde, Dibutylphthalate (DBP), Camphor and Formaldehyde Resin. Comparable to the Chanel 5-Free

Beautiful nails after 6 months of Jamberry wrap useNAIL DAMAGE:
Gel Nails: I am reading reports of weak nails, nail damage, infections:
"...frequent use can cause nail thinning, brittleness, peeling and cracking, and also hide nail disease, an expert warns."

Jamberry Nail Wraps: The wrap will not damage your natural nail. I note in the above article that one concern is the acetone in the nail polish remover. I don't like to use chemicals so instead of cleaning my nails with alcohol, I use vinegar. And to remove my wraps, I soak them in olive or coconut oil.

Image: nursing a baby right after applying my Jamberry wrapsDRY TIME:
Gel Nails: I have heard it said that there is no dry time, but I am seeing 30-60 seconds to cure and dry - between each coat. It might not seem like much, but when you have a crying baby, or a meal to tend to - there isn't always time to sit still and wait.

Jamberry Nail Wraps: There is no dry time. You can apply a wrap, and immediately... scratch an itch, pick up your baby, pet your pet, wash your hands, do laundry, even eat a meal!

Image: Jamberry Nails last up to 2 weeks on your finger, up to 6 weeks on your toesWEAR TIME:
Gel Nails: I am told they last up to two weeks, although a friend said, "I've never had an at-home gel polish that lasted me more than a week solid without some coming off." Another said the ends tended to chip frequently.

Jamberry Nail Wraps: Up to 2 weeks on your finger, up to 6 weeks on your toes. Although I have had mine last longer, up to 6 weeks on my slow-growing fingernails. They don't chip or peel, and they even protect my nails from breaking! It's like pretty protection for my nails!

Image: I soak my nails a couple of minutes in olive or coconut oilREMOVAL:
Gel Nails: The removal process seems labour intensive and time-consuming, involving acetone. Acetone is a clear, harsh-smelling and highly flammable liquid. It's a solvent, capable of disintegrating even plastic.
[Tip: put Vaseline around your finger tips when removing your gels, and your fingers will not dry out like they normally get with the acetone.]

Jamberry Nail Wraps: I soak my nails a couple of minutes in olive or coconut oil (getting a bit of a spa treatment at the same time) and using an orange stick (even better, a floss pick!) to peel it right off. Much gentler, and quick.

Not ready to give up your Gel Nails?

-- Did you know Jamberry Nails work with great with gels? They'll do wonders covering up your nail growth between fills or give you a bit of a short term change up. You obviously love pretty nails. So why not try out some wraps under your Gel top coat and see what you think?

Let's hear from some Jamberry customers who also use gel nails:
Katherine wrote: "I was wearing Gel nails, I got into by wearing one accent nail and thats all it took. Now they are all Jamberry!"

Debbie wrote: "I wear gel and so I tried a sample and I was hooked I can change them whenever I want and they look good when overtop when you need a fill and don't have time."

Lynn wrote: "I love wearing lots of fun patterns with my gels! Plus no dry time, no nail damage!"

Jessica wrote: "My sister in law always applies jams over gel polish."

Amy wrote: "My dermatalogist (who loved my Jamberry Nails and requested a sample) said that they UV lights for gel nails are dangerous and they are already starting to see an increase in skin cancer around the fingernails due to the UV lights."

Tanis wrote: "I still use my LED light for my gel polish on some of my nails but I like the Jamberry Nails for accent nails too but I like different patterns so I usually have only one or two with gel polish and rest with Jamberry for the fun patterns."

Elda wrote: "I like to sandwich my Jamberry wraps between my UV base coat and top coat."

Jill wrote: "The gel Polish comes in limited colors. I think it takes about 45 mins to do gel. Gel kinda wrecks your nails too"

Jessica wrote: "Gel does chip - I worked in a medical lab and had to change gloves and wash my hand all day long. I got gel manicures every 2 weeks because they lasted longer than regular polish, but the tips did chip pretty frequently. Sometimes, the whole gel would peel off. I've seen it happen to my co-workers, too who use gel polish. Jamberrys have been much more durable."

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About Catherine: I have been writing frugal tips since 1982, when I was a young divorced mom of two - for my baby product company, Born to Love. I am now mom to three sons, who are all grown up, grandma to three - and happily re-married to a wonderful man. We have rescued two little dogs, Denny and Dexter - and a cat, Bella.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Jamberry totally damaged my nails, and there are numerous reports out there about nail fungus and nail damage from their use.

  2. With incorrect application or removal damage can occur. As with any nail application, clean instruments and a water tight seal are paramount to nail health. Jamberry wraps do not promote nail fungus or damage when all steps are followed accordingly.

    I would be happy to chat with you to see if I can't help trouble shoot your problem.

    Here is our application video:

  3. Elissa says:

    re: Anonymous post: I always crack up at these type of posts. If someone goes to a salon for acrylics and get fungus they blame the tech and the salon, not the acrylic nail. No one seems to think they could have been the problem, it has to be the wraps!

  4. Jessica says:

    Using the alcohol wipes is key because it kills the germs that are on your nails prior to applying the wraps.

  5. Tiffany says:

    SMH... I totally damaged my nails this past time around and it was all my fault. I was in a hurry and too lazy to take my immensely pregnant self down stairs to get the stuff to properly remove my wraps!

  6. Elissa says:

    Fungus isn't a germ but alcohol can be effective against fungus. The absolute best way to avoid it is to use clean instruments (never ever share) and insure a water tight seal. Even if the instruments and nail are perfectly clean before application, if the seal isn't good water will get in there and it all goes bad from there.

  7. Hiedi says:

    Once air fits the fungus it's died. I have been a nail tech for 16 yrs and there are so many different reasons to get fungus stress and/or an infection in your body.

  8. Tristin says:

    Never had a problem yet..

  9. I have been using Jamberry since around Christmas time and became a consultant around February. I still wear them to this day. Yes, I have damaged my nails a couple times during the removal of them, but that isn't Jamberry's fault, that is mine for being in such a hurry to remove them and not do it properly. As far as fungus goes... I don't know about other ladies but I clean my nails on a regular basis. At least once or twice daily because I want to not because I was advised to... I have never had any type of fungal issue with Jamberry EVER.... acrylics on the other hand.... I could write a book on the nightmares I've gone through.

  10. Jamberry damaged my nails too. I did everything exactly the way I was supposed to, but my nails were still left peeling and brittle, although not quite as bad as when I would remove acrylic nails. The issue is that I wore them consistently for about 3 weeks. I don't have any trouble as long as I give them a week or so between removal and application of a new set. They need to breathe. As for fungus, it is caused by water being trapped between the wrap and the nail. It can happen with false nails, acrylic nails and even nail polish. You must have a good seal and check that it is still sealed every day or two.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jamberry says it doesn't use an UV light they use an LED light

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