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Applying and Removing Gel Nails Should Not Hurt at All

emmahetherington writes beauty articles about nail application and removal.

Have you ever gotten gel nails before? Here's everything you should know about it.

Have you ever gotten gel nails before? Here's everything you should know about it.

Know This: Gel and Acrylic Nails Should Not Hurt

Gel nails, and acrylic nails for that matter, should not hurt at all. I've read numerous articles from people who have received gel nails, and I'm shocked to the core about some of the stories. I've heard people saying:

  • that it hurts to cure the nails and that some salons tell you to push down to reduce the pain or have a fan to cool nails;
  • when getting infills, the gel is clipped off using clippers; and
  • that the nails lifted after a few days but they were told this was normal and to put some cuticle oil on it.

Are you for real!? If you experience pain at any time, you should just leave, because the technician is a butcher and will ruin your nails. It's a fact.

Qualified Technicians

If you get your nails done by a properly qualified technician, not someone who's done a one-day course, you should have a lovely experience which goes something like this:

  • You should be asked to wash your hands. At the very least yours and your technician's hands should be sprayed with sanitizer.
  • Your natural nails will be shaped and the therapist will either buff your nails gently or use a nail dehydrator and germ killer—something like scrub fresh.
  • The point of this is to remove germs and natural oils on your nails to allow the extensions to bond. If your natural nails are touched at this point, your nails will lift as oil has been put back on your nails.
  • A primer may be used to aid the bond if the gel system requires it.
  • If tips are being applied, please note the following: when filing a tip, they should never wipe off dust with their fingers or blow it away. Wiping introduces oils and blowing introduces germs—not good. If you ask for a natural tip, your technician should be able to file this so you have no visible join and no file marks on your natural nail.
  • If they've filed your nail, it is damaged. If there is a join, tell them. If you have short nails don't opt for white tips since they'll look too low. Instead, get sculpted nails so your nail plate can be extended.
  • The tips and gel will be applied following the instructions for that system. There's no point in writing more as all systems are different. But all gels should be applied in layers.
  • When your fingers are put into the UV lamp, it should not burn. If you get a flash of heat on your nails, the gel is too thick. The burning can damage your nail plate and the thick gel won't cure or bond properly meaning they will lift easily. As I said above, gel should be applied in layers, which helps each layer cure and bond properly.
  • Nails will be hot to trot when all of this is done. Put on a little cuticle oil and you're out the door.
  • When it comes to infills or removal, no enhancements should be picked off. Doing this also takes a few layers of nail with it, leaving weak, damaged nails.


Depending on the system, they should be filed off or soaked off. If filing them, you should be left with a very thin layer of gel on your nails. This is the safest way to remove the gel without removing or damaging your natural nails.

File too far down and you get weak, damaged nails which you'll have to grow out. If your technician goes to pick them, puts clippers under them or anything similar, tell them where to go and leave. I hope this helps you make the right decision when it comes to choosing a technician as everyone deserves gorgeous pain-free talons!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: When my SNS polish is filed off, I get a burning sensation, why is this?

Answer: Any time a polish is filed off it should be done gently and carefully. Filing too quick and for too long will cause a heat build up on your nail and can damage the nail bed. Your technician needs to slow down and be more careful. They should also leave a very fine later on your nails as filing too low, into the nail itself, can also severely damage your nails.


Linn Högberg on July 01, 2020:

I like your tips and information. Although, I just want to add that the burning sensation that can happen when curing gel isn't always because the gel is applied too thick. It can also happen because the natural nails are thin and damaged already, and some people are just more sensitive to it. Some gels also tend to "burn" easier than others, even when applied thinly. And also - the burning sensation can not damage the nail plate, when it burns very much and fast it's just the exothermic reaction that's happening really fast and it goes away in seconds. I wonder where

you've learned that it damaged the nail plate? It's just a sensation that goes away, it doesn't actually DO anything to the nail plate. Other than that - I really liked all of the helpful information for the clients

Renee on October 14, 2018:

OMG I started doing my own gel nails at home an I was confused that my nails weren't burning and its because my old nail tech made them SOOOO thick... omg....

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on June 07, 2017:

Oh my.. thats awful! Brands have different chemicals in them so it may be just one ingredient, but its not worth the risk to keep trying. Take your doctors advice for sure. I personally wouldnt have nails done again and no tech should do them if you told them about your reaction. Your body may settle down but, again, its not worth the risk should anything happen again. Get the cuticle oil out and try your best to get the nail bed healthy and grow your own long, strong nails. x

Rebecka Hogan on April 05, 2017:

I have been having my nails done (hard gel) for almost 4 years. LOVED THEM!! BUT .. after a family tragedy my health took a dive and my immune system weakened, apparently a lot. It was at this time that I started seeing some swelling begin in my cuticles when I had my nails done. Twice it went away within 2 days, so I didn't worry. But the third time, IT DIDN'T QUIT. Blisters developed the full length of my fingers. I soaked my hands in a multitude of things trying to draw out the infection, which helped a great deal with the swelling and the pain. But after a day or so it would start all over again. After a week (don't ask me why it took me so long) I finally removed the nails. I did body cleanses, lotions, herbs - everything I could think of. This went on for 2 months. I finally ended up in the emergency room as the little infections and blisters on my fingers had moved up my arms to my shoulders. I developed rashes up both arms, on one foot, on the back of my neck, which developed into a bulge on my spine below my head, and a rash above one eye from my apparent rubbing an itch while having my nails done (which was also the cause on the back of my neck). The doctor said that I had an allergic reaction to the chemicals and that it had gone systemic, and that it was attacking my nerve endings. My nerve endings are STILL erupting in open sores, and this has been going on for over 4 months. I can tell when a patch is going to erupt because it feels like bees are stinging the area. Within a couple of hours a bad rash breaks out and the sores open up. I have to use anbesol, of all things, to try and kill the surface pain just to be able to endure this. The doctor put me on Predizone and Gabapenton to reduce nerve swelling and calm the nerve damage. I also am using hydrocortisone cream, which helps a little, but not much. I am taking pain killers because of the incredible, constant pain, but since I am (now) sensitive to painkillers, I have to be very careful of using them because of the resulting constipation, which put me in the hospital all by itself. Does this ever end? The REALLY odd ball part of this (if there isn't enough already) is that it affected a nerve that runs down the inside of my upper right leg. That freakin' nerve is somehow tied to my right temple in my head. HOW? If it gets pushed or rubbed even lightly, WOW - an electric shock goes right to that temple, like getting hit in the head with a bat. Then for a few minutes I can't see out of that eye. The doctor had to research it, he was so floored by it. I have to keep a wrap on my upper leg to keep that nerve "snug", which seems to keep it from hurting me. Ugh. I can temporarily (about 2 hours) kill the surface pain in certain areas with the anbesol. The other odd thing about all this is - I MISS MY PRETTY NAILS! How stupid is that??!!! I have never been allergic to anything in my life. But my health dive after the death in the family really took a toll on my immune system, which, apparently, opened me up for this. Sorry this was so long. My warning is - if you develop even a tiny bit of swelling in your cuticles, GET THE GEL OFF ... before it causes widespread damage. Doctor said once you develop the sensitivity to it, you're done, because it will just get worse, and there's no going back. Well, gotta go take my meds, and rub some anbesol on those open sores. Will this ever go away?

megan on July 20, 2016:

2 days ago I went to go get my gel nails filled and the nail guy said they needed to come off and be redone, he used a clipper and a fake nail to pry them off. When he was doing this to my right pinky I screamed out in pain and he stopped and went on to the other nails and then came back to my pinky, it was so painful but he got it off, then he took the drimal thing and buffed all my nails and replied the gel, that night my pinky was so sore, I woke up the next morning and the tip of my pinky was red and swollen and hurt to the touch I just left alone hoping it would heal well it's day 2 and I woke up with my pinky throbbing in pain and it feels really hot to the touch. What should I do?! Waiting for my hubby to get home so I can go to the doctor but u they can't see my actual nail... any advice?

Sheri on April 20, 2016:

Thank you for posting this

I had gel nails done on my beautiful long nails and she butchered them. Filing the tops until they hurt. I told her a different nail technician did not do that with my pedicure and she said she had to do it to make the gel adhere. As a result I do not want to go back to a salon. Bad nail techs are wrecking your reputations. Please continue to share good information so consumers can be informed.

MC on November 06, 2015:

I have started having pain in the nailbed. I went to the doctor in case of infection and he prescribed me a 10 day antibiotic treatment, if it does not get better the nails will be coming off. Doctors orders.

Anon on May 17, 2014:

As well as when ur nails are weak keep

Them polished with a hardener and polish with hardeners to help strengthen them

Court on May 17, 2014:

A lot of nail techs are unlicensed just ask to see their licenses as well as if it is burning pull your hand out of the light for a second and put it back in the burning will be gone and it burns if any is on skin as well. No matter what when you take product off your nails will be weaker than what you started with and the damage comes from

Taking the product off and on constantly.

KPaola on March 22, 2014:

I almost cry while I had my nails done. It was horrible, my finger was so red and swollen and every time she pass the brush over my fingernail it burned as it was on fire .

I had a bloated feeling under the nail and she told me to dip my finger in alcohol and she put acetone on my cuticle. I think it was the drying base, I had acrylic (made by an inexperienced girl from the same salon) and I had gelish a day later. The first day was just one nail , but the second day was the most of them, especially one burned terribly. She told me she was going to get a base for sensitive skin, but I have the question: why did this happen? Am I allergic? Did they do a bad job? Why no one told me the same thing happened to anyone?

I hope it ever happen again. (I'm sorry if you can't understand me, English isn't my native lenguage)

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on March 05, 2014:

i stopped getting comment notifications so didn't realise there were so many! Its scary to read of so many people in major pain from nails.. if your hurting and it wont stop the best thing is to get them off - go back to the salon and demand a free removal or go somewhere else if you don't trust them. Then really you just gotta let them grow. If your nails have been filed through or weakened theres nothing you can do really. Just take it easy with them, no nail varnish and apply cuticle oil. Don't get nails redone - and when you've grown it out go somewhere else! Gel and acrylic are 2 different things. Gel is a thick liquid sculpted with a brush and hardens under UV light.. acrylic is a liquid and powder which is mixed, sculped and hardens itself. Acrylic and gel both look equally natural as long as its done right. hope that helps a little x

Darla on March 04, 2014:

Your stories are very helpful but as I'm typing this my fingers under my new solar tips are hurting sooo bad. All I asked is there anything we can do for the pain ? But no one has the answer !!!!! I have heard to rub menthalatham on them so im going to try it ,Just thought I'd spread the word so good luck ;)

fana... on January 11, 2014:

Pls can u tell me does liquid nail buffer creats a layer or coatng on nails?

Lindsey on January 10, 2014:

I got gel nails on over a week ago and I went to get them removed today and when I got to salon the machine that the girl uses had broke so she filed them off with a normal file. Since I got them filed off I am in really bad pain. Can someone please tell me if there is anything I can do to stop d pain :-(

Sophie on December 18, 2013:

cont.. I presume this is the right process for gel nails? www(DOT)youtube(DOT)com/watch?v=mswff2CzhCg

Sophie. on December 18, 2013:

Christ it sounds like everyone has had crap experiences with nails! Could you please explain the differences between gel nails and acrylic? I want to get gel nail done, as I've heard they're very natural looking at light, but I want to avoid acrylic at all costs, as they look cheap and heavy. Is gel nails an actual piece of gel added to your nail or is it sculpted by powder? Do you have any links or images of the process to share??

TayTay on December 09, 2013:

I get my nails done all the time but the last time I went the lady filed one of my nails till it went through to the nail bed and now a few hours later the tips of my fingers are hurting and this has never happened before is there anything I can do to stop the pain and also is there anything I can do to report this?

Julia on November 29, 2013:

So my problem is slightly different. My gel nails have been infilled four times now! No burning no probs after or during treatment. My fingers are starting to get really sore down the sides as if the nails are so strong they are growing into the skin. It's only two or three nails but the more they grow and infield I have the worse they get. I had them cut right down this week but the pain is starting again. Please help

Brandi on September 09, 2013:

I have a UV machine that I bought because I was sick of spending $30 to have nails chipping the same day. Well I get bumps around my nails and they itch. Underneath the nail my skin peels and cracks. Sometimes I don't even have feeling in my fingertips. I might have to sell this machine and go back to the old fashioned way. I have not soaked off in acetone but I can't even imagine because my fingers are constantly irritated. I have yet to see a full 2-3 week last on them. So not sure what the point is from my perspective.

Skylar on May 23, 2012:

So glad to read that others have painful experiences at the nail salon too! I love the way my nails look, but I kid you not, I would rather be at the doctor or dentist having 50 needles jabbing me at once than to sit through having my nails done. It is a painful experience every single time I go. I just got "powder gel" nails today. I hadn't had them done since last august so I had forgotten just how bad it hurts. They used the electric file on my natural nail. One person described it as a shocking feeling. I guess I could agree with that, but to me it always feels more like the tech pushes down too hard and catches a big chunk of nail. It is a quick, sharp sting though. And it hurts for weeks after. My nails are extremely sore now. The skin on my fingertips just under my nails feels like it is glued to the nail. It is extremely sensitive and I can't run anything under the tip of the nail because my skin is so tightly glued. Typing hurts. Touching the nails hurt. The only relief I find is applying pressure to the nails by squeezing them. It hurts badly at first, but then the pain goes away. The techs at the salon always laugh at me and think I am joking when I tell them I am in pain. They tell me that I am being a big baby and I need to trust them. They always tell me that I am the only one who is ever in pain at the nail salon and everyone else thinks it "feels good." I was beginning to think I was crazy. Today when I got home I took a shower and just the hot water from the shower hurt around my nails because I have so many cuts around the edges. I somehow have cuts on my fingertips where the tech used the electric file under the edge of my nail. After reading this I am mortified. I want them off immediately. I noticed that I can see a huge black spot under one nail. It is towards the middle of the nail so I know it cannot be something under the nail. I am worried that there was some sort of long-term damage done. I want these nails off immediately but all of the salons in my area use nail clippers to pry the nails off.

Alyssia on May 06, 2012:

I went earlier today and had my nails done. I was the last person they allowed before they closed. The man was nice but I am worries that because of time he was in a rush and that caused all my pain issues. I have gel nails on and there was the gel on my fingers when I got home. Another problem I had was that I don't think that they are gel. I have had them before but this time he used a powder. & on the container it said acrylic powder on it. When I am paying $50 i want to make sure that I am getting what I paid for. Also the skin around my nails is really sore and pulled towards my nails. Any advice?

Chris Hugh on May 05, 2012:

Very good info. Thanks!

Katy on April 20, 2012:

Hi that's all very true what you've put but can you put gel to a toe that has no nail at all will it stay as it has nothing to attach to? My client has has an operation and is now left with no toenail at all. Thanks

Tina on April 17, 2012:

I am a Gel Nail Technician.

Everything you say Emma is spot on. It makes me angry when these things happen to people. It ruins the whole experience for them. It is supposed to be relaxing, not uncomfortable, and especially not Painful. It gives the rest of us technicians a bad name. The whole point in us being a Nail Technician is to make nails beautiful and healthy. Not damage and ruin them. Some so called nail techs out there, should not be allowed to touch anyones nails!!

LaraineZ on April 16, 2012:

I had gel nails and went every two weeks for a year for my appointments. The electric nail file burned and cut the left side of my nail three separate times within that year. The girl was always very sorry and she was very sweet and I loved my nails so I would go home and soak my finger in peroxide and use neosporin. After a year, that same finger started having such pain I soaked off the gel nails for hours in acetone. It took a very long time to get them off. It has been 16 months now and I get very sharp, severe pain in the finger. I saw a neurologist after a few months and he told me that it should heal with the year and it hasn't. I am now looking for a new neurologist. I need serious help with this. At times, the pain is debilitating. It can come on at any time (even whilte I am sleeping) and I have to put a Lidocain patch around the nail to get some relief. I believe I have nerve damage and at this point, if I was told that severing the nerve in that finger was the only cure, I would do it immediately.

Nicole on April 10, 2012:

I am currently training as a uv gel nail technician, its a 4 day intensive course. I applied some nails on myself as part of my training then filed them off and applied a full set. I then started to remove the second set at home and wasn't paying attention and managed to file the nail plate down so much on one nail that I can almost see my nail bed clearly...thank god I only done it on myself as I would be distraught had it happened to a client. We were told that gel shouldn't sting or burn while curing providing we didn't put too much on. And my accidental file fail is my own fault as we have not been shown removals yet, I was just jumping ahead of myself! I hope to be a great nail tech and be able to give clients a professional, healthy set of nails rather then butchering people. As I said I will definitely learn from my mistake!!

carly on April 05, 2012:

iCarly's I had my toe nail removed and was wondering if I could use gel over lay on the skin or would it damage the skin?

Louise Palmer on March 31, 2012:

I wonder if you could give me some advice. My Nail technician does my nails lovely, they don't hurt and the nail underneath is never too badly damaged. Howeveraround the edges near the sidewalls and the cuticles the gel goes cloudy or looks as though condensation is underneath. Why is this happening? Is this somethin which I am doing or something shes not doing correctly such as the prep?

kathy cross on March 25, 2012:

i was about to go today but im not so sure.

carly brain on March 19, 2012:

jus got my nails done and they r hurting...they was ok when i left at first and now im at home and my hands r warm they really hurt when i bend my fingur n e thing...when shud i do???

Melody on March 15, 2012:

This is my first time getting my nails done. My natural nails are long and healthy. When the nails started to go on I felt a little bit of itching on my ring finger, then it started to sting...eventually my whole finger was pounding with a burning sensation. Then my middle finger started burning as well, this pain travelled up my arm to my elbow, it was dredful, this pain felt like or a little worse than my trip to the dentist. I thought maybe because its the first time or that my nails are thin but after the pain kept coming and going I thought I should do some research and see if my nail isn't infected or anything. I don't know what's going on but this is too painful and I am not exaggerating the magnitude of it.

GelsbyJO on February 28, 2012:

I have been doing gel nails for over three years with the proper training/certification. The pain or burning that you feel when you place your hand in the uv light, is called "heat transfer". This is the gel curing which is basically shrinking while it hardens on the natural nail. The UVA light is attracted to the polymers in the gel which harden as the light penetrates them (i.e., curing). There are many manufacturers of gels and the Brisa system by CND claim they have very minimal heat transfer due to the least amount of shrinkage - less than 50%. Sensitive/thin nails can most certainly enjoy this service, however, the gel MUST be applied in very thin layers. The thicker the application, you will have heat transfer. Good luck everyone.

alex on February 26, 2012:

ok 1st time getting gel nails. they hurt so badi can barely do anything andcant sleep its 430 in the morning. ik what to do

Fuming on February 14, 2012:

I had my nails done at Zaks hairdressers. I get my hair cut there all the time and really trust the staff, they opened a beauty room not so long ago so i thought id take advantage of the 50% off voucher for a beauty treatment as it was my birthday and i was off out for the night.

Ive never had gel nails before so didn't know what to expect, i was told to "push down" on the uv lamp to stop the burning, its now been over a month since i had them done, they came off after a few days and ever since then my nails are vile! Its like half of my nails have been burnt off, they wont grow, they're thin and very red! Really worried in case they don't grow back to normal! I love having long nails and the only reason i had the gel ones done was a)because of the 50% off b)it was my birthday night out and c) due to the work i do my nails broke pretty much a week before.

WILL NOT be going back there again :(

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on February 03, 2012:

So really your saying if you have thin nails and get a real, professionally trained, tech she should be tellling you not to get extensions.. which will result in no pain.. which is the title of the article - yeah? The problem is there are many courses over here in the UK that give 1 day of training and your certificate can then help you get insurance and work on real clients. Its these training companies that are butchering nails and giving techs who spend years studying and updating their skills a bad name. in 6 years of practicing i have never had 1 client complain of pain or flashes of heat because i spend the time looking for contraindications and not just whacking extensions on anyone. This is what a correctly trained tech will do.

I'd also be interested to see a link to your powder gel, as the whole point in gel is that its a liquid. Many powder gels are actually just clear acrylic - wording can be misleading. I'd be interested to check out the label as i like to keep upto date with bonefide products.

Chelsea on February 03, 2012:

I didn't really like this article actually. I'm a nail tech myself, I went through almost a year of schooling to be one. When your nails are thin, the gel burns... That's just the way it is. The acrylic burns when they're thin too. If you have thin nails, you shouldn't get services done, simple as that.

And also, just so others know, there is such a thing as gel powder. If you ask for gel and get a powder, it's possible that it's still gel.

It's funny, I graduated from the top school in Canada and we were told that the gel burning you is normal when your nails are thin. I also graduated two years ago, so it's not like we have no idea about nails anymore.

The idea of this is great, educating people is awesome but telling them that the Tech is doing something wrong is wrong. Sometimes people are "Divas" or really sensitive. I've had to deal with all kinds of clients. If someone off the street told me that I was doing my job wrong, it's kind of a slap in the face.

delainey on January 26, 2012:

Actually, as a certified nail technician and a gel nail instructor, filing the natural nail with an electric nail file is perfectly safe , AS LONG AS YOU ARE TRAINED WITH ITS USAGE!! You can get electric files that go very very low speed so that you will ensure not fileing too low!And as for burning, sometimes people do have very sensitive nails ( i am one of these people) even 1 layer of gel burns on me and just as a test i didn't even file my natural nail first , the burning is caused by the friction on the nail caused by the molecules in the gel racing around to bond together. so ya , you don't put on allot but sometimes they burn anyhow with sensitve nails!!

Carolyn Thorne on January 26, 2012:

I just read the comment from Cathy Mitchell and am fairly sure we are both suffering the same thing. I had a UV nail set for my birthday. The first time I used it it was fine - the nails were great for over 3 weeks! However, I did them again 10 days ago and the next day started experiencing what appears to be sunburn on my fingertips, under my nails! My fingertips were very tender for the best part of a week, and if I caught a nail on something it started to bleed underneath The skin under my nails has now gone brown, I presume that this is burnt, dead skin, and appears to be scab like and the surrounding skin is hard and dry (this is under all of the tips of every nail). For the last couple of nights, I have been applying globs of antiseptic cream under each nail and just leaving it there overnight. I feel thet I want to remove the nail polish and acrylic, but am worried that the acetone remover will be extremely painful due to 'open wounds'. I did wonder if I had perhaps got some of the acrylic coat underneath my nails and then cured it - causing burns. Could this be the case? Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice would be welcome, I'd hate to have to stop using the nail kit.

Glitzy Jo on January 15, 2012:

**LADIES** I am a professional, qualified nail tech and am totally astounded by some of these stories. Firstly you should NEVER use an electric file on the natural nail plate and secondly where the hell have these nail techs trained or even got jobs for that matter when they are filing nails so thin that it's causing the client so much pain. These sound like horror stories, a lot of these '' Chinese nail bars'' use a product containing MMA purely as its cost effective for them but seriously should never be used because of the dangers associated with it (google it). Let's just hope for all you ladies that have had a bad experience you find yourselves a good nail tech to restore your faith as acrylic, gel, fibreglass nails are fantastic to have providing they are done in the correct manor. Please do not be put off by a bad experience as there are some fantastic nail techs out there that you will go back to time and time again xx

Emily on January 09, 2012:

I am really concerned about my nails. I had them done for the first time today and didn't know the right or wrong way of doing things.

The nail tech filed my nail surface with an electric drill thing and then applied a white tip, and a liquid & powder solution. Firstly, I paid for gel nails but I am now lead to believe that what I was given were L&P acrylics. Also, I am concerned that they may have used MMA on my nails rather than EMA, as they had to file the nail plate a lot and the evening after application they are VERY sore.

What should I do?? I'm so miserable I could cry.

Kerrie on January 01, 2012:

They feel totally normal today and I LOVE them :) They look fab!

Kerrie on December 31, 2011:

I just had my nails done - I've never had them done before but I love the way they look :) I asked for gel nails, but after reading all of this I think I must have been given acrylic - because she used a white powder and clear liquid with a lilac hue. They look great but I'm a bit annoyed that I wasn't given what I asked for. But it seems acrylic are easier to remove than gel. I can feel quite a lot of pressure and some of my fingers are a bit tingly, hoping this will subside over next couple of days! My tech also used an electric file on me.

cathy mitchell on December 29, 2011:

i was bought u.v nail set for crimbo this year, which i was over the moon to have i read the leatlet and watched the dvd but have had my nails done in a saloon i sat and did my nails took my time and was left with the most hurtfull bruning and sore redness around my nails. my fingers are so swollen to do anything at the minute is a nitemare, wot are ur suggerstions pls as i love wearing my nails xxxxxxx

B on December 22, 2011:

Can you file and shape gel nails? I had them done yesterday.... She drilled and yes they burned, but right now I'm worried that they look too square. Suggestions?

Nicky on December 11, 2011:

I'm a trained & insured nail tech & if anyone goes near your natural nail with an electric file walk out!!! An electric file us only safe in the hands if someone who has been trained to use it, a trained & insured tech will never mind you asking to see their certificates of insurance & qualifications,

Jade on November 09, 2011:

I just had gel nails done for about the 3rd time in my life and I had never had the burning experience when under the UV light until then. It was my pinky nail. I pulled it out and look at the girl and I was like its really hot, i thought she screwed up or i was like having a reaction to the gel or something. She just told me to put it in front of the fan and then back under the UV light. I did as she said and every single nail got super hot under the light so needless to say I now know after reading this that it was not supposed to happen. It has been almost a week now since I have had them done and they look great and everything feels fine now, but I will definitely choose a different salon next time. Also when i was telling her that it was getting really hot I could hardly understand her because she had a very strong Asian accent and i kept saying "huh" like five times, I hope she didn't find that rude but I thought my finger was catching on fire! ah...Good luck to the rest of you getting this done! Hope no one has to feel that heat under their nails as I did because, believe me, it was NOT fun! :)

Sam on October 10, 2011:

omg i JUST got my nails done, gel tips for the first time, and she used the electric filer and went sooo far down, my cuticles are killing me! i even started bleeding! and thennn she told me to put it under the UV lamp and it burnt sooo bad! and now hey are sore :(

chermaine lewis on September 06, 2011:

hi ive had gel nails done twice and both times they have burned really bad under the lamp its like when i put my hand under the lamp it starts burning i know his shouldn't happen but can you tell me why its happening please as i love getting them done but will never get them now because of this and i had mine done with to perfessional qualified nail technicians

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on May 01, 2011:

nah it shouldn't affect them as gel nails don't disolve. If you have your hands in it for long periods of time you may get lifting but same goes for water so i would advise you wear gloves when doing dishes or perming etc.

Grace on April 30, 2011:

Does hair perm solution affect gel nails?

charlie on April 24, 2011:

thanks for your advice emma. it's been 2 weeks now and the pain finally went down; i put some clear nail polish to make my fingers look a bit less like stumps, and i regularly file as the nails grow back so the nails aren't catching on to anything. 8 nails are doing ok, 2 of them including my thumb are looking super-ugly and you cal literally see what's going on through them, that's how thin they are!

i'm going to go to the girl and explain to her why i think she didn't do her job properly and hopefully she'll have some kind of explanation to provide. It's such as shame as i live so close to the beauty place and yet i'm never gonna go there ever again to have treatments done, they've lost a good customer!

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on April 16, 2011:

Allie you've had acrylic nails done if its liquid and powder. I'd say it could be that your tip is a little small for your finger so its nippng your nail and can cause pain on the sides of your nail. If it doesn't ease off id advise you to go back and tell them how much pain your in and if needs be take them off and redo them free of charge (if you trust them to do it again!). At the very least they should take them off for you free. If they are acrylic they can soak them off in acetone but make sure they soak them off and don't pick or pull the acrylic off as this will damage your nail, light buffing is ok. it could take a while but every last drop of acrylic will melt eventually. hope you get sorted x

Allie on April 16, 2011:

I just got my nails done last night, and the technician put on white tips and then used powder and some type of liquid to create the rest of the nail. It did not start hurting until around three thirty this morning! It hurts to grab things, to press my fingers down on a surface, to type, and it hurts mostly on the sides of my nail, not the actual nail itself, but the skin surrounding it. It doesn't hurt all of my fingers, strangely enough, both my pointer and pinky fingers on both hands are fine, but the rest really hurt! i do not know what to do.

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on April 10, 2011:

Aww Charlie that's awful. She really mustn't have known what she was doing as she should have been paying close attentiont to your natural nail. All technicians should have insurance if they are practicing on paying clients. If you wanted to report and make a claim i'd go back to her and explain that your nails are sore and have been filed down way too much. If you ask for her insurance details as you want to make a claim against her - filing your nail that much it hurst like you explain is negligence. I'd take pictures etc now if you want to do this so you've got your evidence. DON'T feel bad about doing this though - at the end of the day shes ruined your nails and will prob keep doing it as shes not trained properly. Any good technician would take this on the chin and do some more training to improve their skills. With regards your nails i'm afraid there isn't much you can do. The pain should ease off as your nail bed becomes less sensitive but your nails wont improve until they start growing in, but you will end up with ridges in your nails where the new is thick, again this will have to grow out. you'll have to keep them short for a while as they'll be really weak. You could try putting a little cuticle oil on your nails to help them but id wait until they are less sore incase you aggrivate them more. i hope they get better soon x

charlie on April 09, 2011:

Hi, I've had a bad experience with my gel nails in the UK...about a month ago I had nail extensions as my nails were looking a bit manky, and even though the girl was and is lovely and very friendly i am left with mangled nails and it hurts! first off i asked for short nails and i got given great huge claws, not practical at all but i dodn't want to be rude so i let her finish and filed them down at home. I had a backfill done with no problem and i could see my lovely nails grow underneath the extensions and thought yay i'm gonna have lovely natural nails when this gets removed! but the girl filed my nails down sooooooooo much that it hurts really badly, my right thumb is red and sore and i can't touch it, the side of it looks like there's hardly any nail left, when i touch my nails they're all soft and my fingertips feel both numb and painful, it's sooooooo bad! i feel bad for the girl as she was really nice but when i read your article i realised she wasn't too professional... Is there anything I can do, i.e report her parctice or something? I should have gone with my first instince and filed off the el myself at home, i would have done less damage! how long would it usually take for my nails to improve?

I just bit the bullet and clipped them right down, there's hardly any nail left, it hurts but at least it looks less mangled :-(

nat on February 27, 2011:

hi i went ot get my nails done the other day and they buffed then with the electric buffer and buffed way to low. While they where buffing i felt pain like my nail was gettin an electric shock. two of my finger hurt now and i don't no what i should do ?

Meri on January 09, 2011:

The best professional advice I have ever read about gel nails!!!

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on December 30, 2010:

yeah it might go away, just keep an eye on them. if it does ease over in about 28/48 hours go back and ask them to redo your thumbs. if you get a long term tight feeling you could damage your nail plate so best getting it sorted early x

Cindy on December 29, 2010:

I just had gel nails done. My thumb nails are sensitive when I press on them. I don't feel pain otherwise but when I press on the top of the nails on my thumbs, they feel tight and a bit sore. If I don't press, no pain and the rest of my nails are fine. Is it possible this will go away?

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on December 18, 2010:

its really hard to try and find a good technician as there are no regulations really in the industry. A couple of good places to try and find someone local is the beauty guild (but i've a feeling this is UK only) and salon geek. If those fail the best thing you could do is maybe check out qualifications or contact the big names in nails, creative, brista etc as they have specific training to get one of their qualifications. But whereever you go if anything hurts or you don't think they are doing things right stop them straight away and explain the problem. if they get defensive, say its normal etc get up refuse to pay and leave. x

Courtney on December 17, 2010:

I want to get my nails done professionally, But I am scared of the pain! my school does them but they take forever and I don't have a spare! I am very sensitive to pain. I have tried the drugstore ones but I feel like people can tell the difference? Can I tell the person that will be doing my nails to be gentle? or should i just say no?

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on November 28, 2010:

sometimes you can feel a small amount of pressure as some people have sensitive nail beds but they shoulnt really hurt when you touch them. are they defo gel nails? as sometimes techs claim to give gel but they are just acrylic with uv top coat. did they use any form of liquid and powder or was it a gel that was applied and cured in a lamp? if they are hurting i recommend they are removed incase they damage your nail bed. if liquid and powder was used you could buff the top coat off and soak in acetone (nail varnish remover normally contains acetone). it'll take a while but will melt them down. if they are gel i'd go back to where you got them and tell them they are painful, don't let them fob you off with 'they are meant to hurt a little bit' and demand your money back so you can pay someone else to remove them. x

Hannah on November 27, 2010:

I had my nails done today and I'm i'n pain I c feel a pressure underneath and it hurts to press on them

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on November 27, 2010:

just be very careful when your filing them just incase you start filing your natural nail. keep to a high number file (180/240) then move to a buffer block. but try and keep a thin layer of gel on your nail, much safer. gel nails are great and last the best so its a shame you've been put off. next time you pick a tech try and see if you can watch themdurin an appointment. a well trained confident tech shouldn't be bothered by this. you can then watch for issues. or if you pick some one that does any no nos just tell them to stop and leave. sounds like you need to strengthen your nails. get yourself some cuticle oil and apply every day. gently file the edges of your nail with an emery board which will help the chipping. wait for them to harden up before puttin more nails on. hope that helps x

Dink96 from Phoenix, AZ on November 26, 2010:

I've had gels for almost a year and my tech has done several of these "no-nos." I was going to have her remove what's left tomorrow, but I'll just keep filing them down until they naturally come off. Thanks for a great article. I love the look of gel nails but the cost and time are too much. My nails break and chip though. Any tips? Thanks.

emmahetherington (author) from United Kingdom on August 04, 2010:

aww petal that's awful! its people like that which make me fume! extensions should be a pleasure and its such a shame people like this can put you off so much. Theres not really much you can do now unfortunately.. but if i were you i'd get that nail varnish off, might sting tho to get the air to them. get yourself some cuticle oil, something like solar oil and put that on everyday. it'll help calm them down and strengthen then a bit but they'll only fully get better when they're grown out. hope they calm down for you soon xx

Lisa on August 04, 2010:

I just came back from getting gel nails filed off and she filed way too far down. My nails are red snd tender and several times I had to ask her to stop because it was burning too much, and nearly every nail has a cut on the side because of the nail file. It even stung when she was putting a clear polish on afterwards. Put me off getting them ever again =[