Now that Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day are well over, gel manicures are starting to expire, given that they only last about a maximum of about three weeks.

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La Perla Haute Couture Spring 15

Every gel nail lover knows how uneven and brittle nails tend to be after a “soak off”. Just think: 10 minutes worth of 100 per cent (drying) acetone on your nails. Still, that usually isn’t enough to get all the polish off; you need to file the upper layers of your nails too. This thins and weakens the nail in the process.

Try staying off the polish this week and give your nails some TLC by following these tips!

#1 CUT YOUR NAILS SHORT, BUT KEEP THE CUTICLES
True story: A long, brittle nail once flipped backwards and broke off in the middle. It hurts, and it took me months before I could get two layers of polish to look even on the rough surface.

Avoid getting into the same situation by asking your nail technician to cut your nails short and file them into shape, so you will not have to deal with brittle nails chipping at odd lengths.

Keep the cuticles though, for they help to protect your nails from any bacteria and infections. All you need to do is to soften them with a good nourishing cream or oil.

You can actually do this with any hand cream, or a multi-purpose cream with reparative properties, like Creme Simon’s Creme Universelle. This floral scented cream is non-sticky but effectively heals dryness.

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For the girl who’s always on-the-go, try OPI’s Avoplex Cuticle Pen Oil To Go. This brush-on cuticle oil is convenient for application anywhere.

#2 HYDRATE
Gel manicures tend to “suffocate” your nails. Keep it bare for a week or two in between manicures to let it “breathe”. In the meantime, apply a nail treatment gel that helps to restore the water content in your nails.

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Try Locycare’s Nail Gel, which not only moisturises your nails, but helps to improve yellow discolouration. Apply it twice daily.

#3 TREAT AND STRENGTHEN
We know, it’s not easy to stay away from the colour for long, so invest in a good treatment base coat that strengthens your nails.

If you’ve got thin nails that can sometimes flake off, reach for a base coat like OPI’s Nail Envy Soft & Thin. The calcium in the formula will help to thicken your nails. I like to wear two coats of a calcium base coat to help fill in the ridges of an uneven nail before applying nail polish.

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Others worth trying include the Nail Envy in Dry & Brittle, as well as the Original formula.

It’ll feel odd at first to not have colours on your nails for a week, but do it often enough and it’ll get easier. After all, nail polish looks better on healthy nails, right? Good luck!

Creme Simon Creme Universelle, $68, is available online at www.creme-simon.com or in stores here. For more information, follow Creme Simon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Locycare Nail Gel, $19.90, is available at selected pharmacies.

OPI Avoplex Cuticle Pen Oil To Go and OPI Nail Envy Strengtheners, $40 and $41 each, is available at BHG, Tangs, Metro, John Little and Robinsons department stores.