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Our Gel Nail Expert's Tips on How to Stop Gel Polish from Peeling & Chipping

Written by: Ellie Simmons



Time to read 7 min

From unsightly smudges to botched cuticles, there’s plenty of room for error when it comes to bringing out the best in your nails.

A joint effort between your base coat, top coat, shaping and trimming implements, and colour of choice, you obviously hope that the finished result will be nothing short of spectacular.

But wait, is that a chip?

We’ve all gone through it: after spending an hour or so painting and polishing our nails, getting things just right, we look down and see a chip that’s more like a canyon in our eyes.

It’s always frustrating when this happens, but there are ways you can prevent your polish from peeling and chipping so that it lasts the full 3 weeks of wear.

Our gel nail experts have pulled together their best advice below, so you can get the most out of your polish and keep your nails looking beautiful for longer.

You're Not Prepping Your Nails Properly

A great mani always starts with great prep.

That means pushing back and trimming your cuticles, buffing your natural nails, cleansing with Prep & Wipe and dehydrating your nail plate ready for polish.

It's so important that you remove any dirt or oil residue that could be sitting on top of your natural nails; otherwise, the gel polish won't adhere properly, and it will begin to lift off after a few days – leading to pesky peeling and chipping.

Buffing your nails is another key step. The buffing block creates a texture for the polish to grip onto. If your nails haven’t been buffed properly (or at all), then your polish will lift more quickly as there’s nothing to hold on to.

You're Not Curing Your Gel Polish Long Enough (Or Using a Compatible Lamp)

One of the most important steps in gel polish application is curing. 

The first step is to use a nail lamp that’s compatible with the gel polish you’re using. We always recommend you use a Mylee LED Lamp when curing your Mylee polishes for the best results.

The UV rays emitted from the nail lamp 'set' the gel polish in place; therefore, if you're not curing your polish for the correct time (30-60 seconds for the Mylee LED Lamp), then your polish won't be properly bonded to the nail and will start to lift off.

If you're applying a thicker layer of gel polish (like Builder Gel, for example), then you'll need to adjust your curing time.

In other words: the thicker the polish layer, the longer the curing time.

Darker colours can also take longer to cure, so bare this in mind. We recommend curing dark polishes for 60 seconds under your Mylee lamp.

So, How Do I Stop My Gel Nails from Peeling & Chipping?

Chipped and peeling polish is definitely frustrating, especially when you've put a lot of time and effort into creating the perfect mani. 

But it's really not that tricky to correct.

Our gel nail experts have put together their top 5 tips on how to stop gel nails from peeling and chipping:

Tip 1: Always Start With Clean Nails

As we said earlier, one of the most important steps in gel polish prep is to make sure your nails are clean and free from dirt, oil and any other residue.

Cleaning your nails doesn't just mean washing with soap and water. Soap residue on your nails can leave oils on the nails, so these need to be removed, too.

You’ll need to remove any product build-up or natural oils on your nail beds that could create a barrier between the gel polish.

After buffing your nail plate, you should wipe each nail with a lint-free wipe soaked in Prep & Wipe to cleanse it, then apply a layer of our Nail Prep Dehydrator.

After that, you can get started on your base coat for long-lasting colour.

Don't Forget to Push Back & Trim Your Cuticles!

As part of your nail prep, you should push back your cuticles and trim any dead white skin around your nails.

Overgrown cuticles can cause gel polish to lift and, therefore, peel.

So make sure you always take time and care to push back and tidy up your cuticles.

Tip 2: Seal the Free Edge of Your Nail

Capping or sealing the free edge of your nail will help the polish to stick stronger, making it less likely to chip and peel.

It’s not too big a deal if you’ve never done this before; just be sure to get into the habit now for the best results.

How to Cap Gel Nails

After painting the whole nail plate with gel polish, simply take the polish brush and run it along the free edge of your nail.

It's that simple! But it can make a big difference.

Tip 3: Apply Cuticle Oil to Keep Your Nails Hydrated

Regularly applying cuticle oil to your nails and cuticles can help to stop your nails from drying out. If your nails and cuticles become too dry, then the polish can ‘pull away’ from your nail surface resulting in peeling.

Use our Sweet Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil on your nails daily to keep them nourished, but never apply cuticle oil before applying polish – for the reasons we discussed in the previous tip!

Tip 4: Apply Thin Layers of Polish, Not Thick Coats

Spreading your polish in thick layers means it won’t dry onto the nail properly; you can expect a chip to appear soon afterwards; we promise you that.

Thinner coats will...

  • Minimise chipping

  • Have a lower smudge risk

  • Make sure the polish is cured thoroughly

And don’t worry if the first layer is streaky; this can be covered up with your second attempt. Building up your polish layers will also make the colour pop and appear more opaque.

Tip 5: Don’t Soak Your Nails in Water Before or After Applying Polish

Soaking your nails in water before or after application can cause the nail plates to expand if they absorb water. When your nails dry and shrink because of this, it could pull the polish away from the nail – causing cracks, peeling or chipping.

Always ensure that your nails are completely dry before going in with gel polish, and keep your nails as dry as possible on the daily. For example, you might want to wear gloves for washing up.

Say Goodbye to Chipped & Peeling Gel Polish!

Looking after your at-home mani means a good deal of dedication and time. And with our helpful advice, you’ll soon be able to forget all about chipped nails haunting you ever again.

Also, we don’t want to brag, but every single gel polish in the Mylee range is resistant to chips! Just another thing about our products that makes them extra special (and essential to your beauty regime).

If you want more gel nail tips, tricks and inspo just like this, then make sure you sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with our latest news and collection drops!

And be sure to follow us on our socials – we love hearing your thoughts and seeing your incredible creations. Tag us using #NailedItMyself, and you might just be featured on our Instagram Story!


How do I stop gel nails from peeling?

Make sure you've properly cleansed your nail plate before applying your base coat. Use our Prep & Wipe solution soaked on a lint-free wipe and take it over your natural nail to clean off any oil or dirt. You should also make sure that you have buffed your nails before this step so that the polish has something to adhere to.

Why do my gel nails peel off?

One of the most common reasons for gel polish peeling in incorrect curing. If you're not curing your polish for the correct time (30-60 seconds for the Mylee LED Lamp) then your polish won't be properly fixed. Make sure you’re applying thin layers and thoroughly curing in between each layer.

How to stop nail polish from chipping?

Cure your gel polish for the correct amount of time under your nail lamp (30-60 seconds for LED lamps, 120 seconds for UV lamps).

Why do my nails feel weak after wearing gel nails?

Incorrect prep, application or removal of your gel nails can increase the chances of your nails becoming damaged. You should always follow professional tips and steps on how to properly prep, apply and remove your gel nails to keep your natural nails healthy and strong.

How do you fix brittle nails after gel?

Our 5-in-1 Builder Gel is the perfect way to protect and strengthen brittle nails, while still adding a subtle flush of colour to your hands. The gel acts as a barrier between your natural nails and the wear and tear of everyday life, allowing your nails to grow feeling underneath. Plus, we have lots of beautiful shades in our Builder Gel collection to choose from, so you don't have to forego colour for healthy nails.

Ellie Simmons

Ellie is the Brand Manager at Mylee, where she immerses herself in all things gel nails. 

Alongside being a skilled and certified nail technician, Ellie's expertise extends to gel manicures and nail extensions. Her heart and soul are devoted to all things nail-related, and she loves flaunting her own long, natural nails with captivating nail art. 

Ellie's ultimate favourites are iridescent and sparkly designs!

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