Two genius ways to prevent gel-mani nail damage

Gel manicures are one of the best things that have ever happened to busy girls who can’t make it to the salon every week, but as most of us know, they come with a few drawbacks. Personally, I find it annoying to have to arrive 15 minutes before my actual appointment to soak the stuff off, and then there’s the nail damage caused by soaking in acetone and scraping it off. For this reason, I limit gel manis to those times I am going away on vacation or away for business—which unfortunately isn’t all that often. But I might be scheduling a Shellac because I found two amazing ways to sidestep the gel-mani side effects.

The first is SensatioNail’s Nail Shields. Similar to those stick-on nail wraps that you apply and file off the excess, these clear stickers are designed to act like a base coat before any gel manicure. When you’re ready to remove the polish, you simply peel them off—no soaking or scraping required. (And at $7.99 for roughly 8 manicures, that’s a great deal.)

The second nail-sparing removal option is The Painted Nail’s Steam Off Gel Removal System. Brought to us by L.A.’s go-to nail salon, The Painted Nail, this may sound like a sauna for your nails, but alas, it’s not. This device uses a special vitamin-infused acetone, warms it up and continually mists it over your nails for five minutes. Once finished, you can easily push off remaining color with a wooden stick. I love the idea of keeping this at home so I can arrive at my next nail appointment on time.

If you get gel manicures, how do you keep your nails happy and healthy?