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How Often Should You Take a Break from Gel Nails? (Never!)

Written by: Merilin Notton



Time to read 9 min

Some of the most commonly asked questions we get is, "How often should I take a break from gel nails?" and "How often do I need to let my nails 'breathe'?". Well, the answer is simple: never!

While we don't quite literally mean you should have a set of gel nails on for the rest of eternity, we do mean that there’s no need for you to take extended breaks from them.

It's a pretty common misconception that you need to let your nails 'breathe' or have time without any polish on to keep them healthy.

However, our nails aren't living tissues and, therefore, don't actually require oxygen to stay healthy. Although fresh air and regular hand care are always recommended for overall nail health.

Not quite fully on board yet? Scroll down for the proof!

Do Nails Need a Break from Gel Polish?

Our nails aren’t like our skin in the sense that they don’t have pores. Therefore, they cannot 'breathe' in the traditional sense.

The only way oxygen can reach our nails is through the blood supply in our fingers and fingertips. So, taking a break from gel polish doesn’t allow for oxygen to reach our nails any more than when they’re polished.

In fact, regularly wearing gel polish can bring a load of benefits to your nails. The polish acts as a barrier that protects the nail from daily bumps and nicks.

Additionally, gel polish is harder and more durable than regular nail polish, meaning it can actually help strengthen your nails.

This is especially true of builder gel, more specifically, our 5-in-1 Builder Gel. It's thicker than regular gel polish, creating an even stronger layer of protection for your nails. Many people choose to wear Builder Gel on natural nails to help them grow longer, stronger, and healthier nails.

Times When You Should Take a Break from Gel Nails

With all that being said, there are times when it's important to give your nails a break from gel polish.

We're not doing a 180 on ourselves here, but there are still some situations when it's better to leave the polish be for a minute.

  • You have a nail injury – If you've accidentally hit your nail or noticed a small cut or tear, it's best to avoid gel polish until it’s fully healed. Also, if you've bashed your finger and experience bruising underneath your nail, it's best not to cover it with gel so you can monitor its healing process.

  • You have a nail infection – If you have a fungal or bacterial infection on your nails, it's important to refrain from using gel polish until the infection has cleared up. You don't want to trap any moisture or make the infection worse by sealing it with gel.

  • You have an ingrown toenail – Ingrown toenails can be painful and uncomfortable, and placing gel polish on them may only worsen the issue. It's best to let your toenail heal and grow out before applying polish.

  • Your nail bed or eponychium is damaged – The nail bed and eponychium (the skin surrounding the base of your nail underneath) are delicate areas that can easily become damaged. If you have any cuts, bruises, or other injuries in these areas, it's important to avoid using gel polish until they’ve fully healed.

But assuming that your nails are in full health, there's no reason as to why you need to take a break from gels.

Is it Bad to Get Gel Nails Every 2 Weeks?

It's most common for gel nails to be reapplied or infilled every 2 to 3 weeks – at this point, you'll likely have noticeable nail growth, and the gel will have started to move away from the cuticle.

There's nothing wrong or 'bad' about getting gel nails every 2 weeks, as long as you take proper care of your natural nails in between sets and follow proper steps for removal or infilling. It's actually the incorrect methods for these that can cause damage to your nails, not the frequency of getting them done.

We have lots of handy guides on how to apply, remove, and infill gel polish over on our blog, as well as plenty of videos over on our Instagram and TikTok with top tips and step-by-steps on how to achieve the perfect gel nails.

@myleebeautyofficial Out with the old & in with the new 😌 Keeping it classic for 2024 with one our favourites; the French mani *chef’s kiss* 🤌 Em using Take it Off Kit, Light Pink Builder Gel & Break The Ice Gel Liner 👀 💅 #mylee #nails #gelnails #gelpolish #frenchmanicure #frenchtips #cleangirlaesthetic #trendingnails #nailoverlay #nailtrends #nailtutorial #classicfrenchnails ♬ original sound - Myleebeauty

How Often Should You Take a Break from Builder Gel Nails?

Just as you don't need a break from your regular gel nail polish, you don't need a break in between builder gel manicures either. As long as you take care of your natural nails and follow proper removal and infilling techniques, you can continue getting builder gel nails without any issues.

Builder gel can also be infilled really easily, so you don't need to fully remove and reapply it every time.

We have a great step-by-step guide on how to infill gel nails and our Builder Gel, so we recommend saving it for when you need to refresh your mani.

How to Maintain Healthy Natural Nails When Wearing Gel Polish

While wearing gel nails can bring many benefits to your natural nails, that doesn't mean you can just neglect them.

It's important to maintain healthy, natural nails while wearing gel polish, especially if you are a regular gel nail wearer, as you want your nails to look and be in their best condition.

#1 Apply Cuticle Oil Daily

Cuticle oil is one of our holy grail products when it comes to maintaining healthy natural nails. It helps to nourish and hydrate the cuticles, which keeps them soft and supple.

Regularly applying cuticle oil not only promotes healthy nail growth, but it also helps to prevent hangnails and dry, cracked cuticles, and this stops your polish from peeling or lifting, too.

Our Sweet Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil is our go-to – we keep the Oil Roller Pen tucked into our bag when we're out and about and use the 50ml dropper bottle for our at-home nail care. The formula contains sweet almond, grape seed, and sunflower oil to deeply moisturise and protect the cuticles.

To use, simply apply a small amount of oil onto each nail and massage it into the cuticles in a circular motion. You can also push back your cuticles gently with a wooden or metal cuticle pusher to keep them looking neat and tidy.

#2 Wear Gloves When Cleaning

Regularly using cleaning products or exposing your nails to harsh chemicals will end up drying them out.

Avoid this by always wearing gloves when doing household chores or if you work in an environment where your hands are constantly exposed to chemicals. This will not only protect your nails but also keep your skin healthy, and always rehydrate with that cuticle oil and a hand cream.

#3 Avoid Picking or Peeling Off Gel Polish

Never ever pick or peel off your gel polish, no matter how tempting it may be. This not only damages your nails but also weakens them and can cause breakage.

Instead, follow proper removal steps to ensure your gel polish is safely and effectively removed.

#4 Trim & File Your Nails Properly

Proper nail trimming and filing are essential in maintaining healthy and strong nails.

Be sure to trim your nails straight across – never on a curve – and file them in one direction to prevent breakage. If you want to create a rounded nail shape, like almond or oval, use a gentle buffer to smooth out the edges.

If you get a hangnail or a small piece of nail that is lifted, do not pick or bite it off. Use a pair of sanitised cuticle nippers or nail clippers to gently remove the excess.

#5 Don't Bite Your Nails

Another big no-no is biting your nails. This not only damages the structure of your nail, but it also introduces bacteria and germs into your mouth.

If you have a habit of biting your nails, try to find alternative ways to keep your hands busy, such as squeezing a stress ball or fidgeting with a pen.

The Takeaway: You Don't Need to Let Your Nails Breathe

If there's one key point to take away from this, it's that you don't need to let your nails "breathe" by going without gel polish.

In fact, keeping your nails protected with polish and moisturised with the right products can actually help them grow stronger and healthier.

So next time you're tempted to go au naturel, remember that a little bit of TLC and proper maintenance can go a long way.

As for the gel polish you should be using on your nails, it's always Mylee! Our salon-quality formulas are chip-free, long-lasting, and beautifully pigmented.

With over 200 colours to choose from, there's a shade for every mood, aesthetic, and occasion.

Shop our full collection below, or head over to the rest of our blog for even more gel nail and nail care tips.


How often should you take off gel nails?

You'll need to remove, infill, or reapply your gel polish after around 3 weeks. By this time, your nails will have grown out and the polish will have moved further away from your cuticle, making it more prone to chipping and lifting.

But you don't need to take a break from wearing gel polish in between sets; you can simply remove and reapply the polish on the same day for a fresh, long-lasting look.

What is the healthiest way to remove gel polish?

Acetone or an acetone-based remover is the only you'll be able to remove gel polish effectively. Soak our 100% Pure Acetone or Gel Remover on a nail wipe and secure it to your nail with foil or our Soak Off Clips.

Wait 10-15 minutes. Use a gel scraper to push the polish from your nail. If needed, repeat the soaking process until all the gel has been removed.

Thoroughly wash your hands and use our Sweet Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil to rehydrate your nails.

Is it OK to peel off gel nails?

No! You should never peel off gel polish as this can damage your natural nails. The proper way to remove gel polish is by using an acetone-based remover and soaking it off properly.

How can you fix your nails after picking off gel polish?

In this instance that you have picked off your gel polish, it's important to hydrate and nourish your nails. Use our Sweet Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil to rehydrate your nails and prevent them from becoming brittle.

You should also use a hand cream to keep your hands and nails moisturised. Applying a nail serum will also help to strengthen and repair any damage to your nails.

Merilin Notton

Merilin Notton

As the Head of Brand at Mylee, Merilin is a seasoned beauty industry professional with a strong passion for nail art. 

With a background as a licensed beautician and a track record of shaping and elevating beauty brands, Merilin is dedicated to empowering individuals to express themselves through nail art, making them a driving force behind Mylee's success in the beauty industry.


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