First Gel Manicure

I got my first gel manicure today! I’m going on a cruise for a whole week, and I don’t want to bring nail polish with me, or spend the whole week chipping off my manicure. I actually never intended to get gel until I saw my downstairs neighbor at the nail salon. We didn’t recognize each other at first (I think this happens a lot in NYC) but we eventually said hello and started to chit-chat with each other. She said that her little treat to herself is getting a manicure every month. She said to me that she always gets gel because its lasts so long. I then asked her, “Doesn’t it ruin your nails?”
I once asked my mom about gel because regular manicures never stay on my nails. My nails are extremely weak and bend no matter how much biotin I take. My mother is very particular with what I do with my outside appearance. My mother has grown to accept my tattoos and piercings, but still cringes at the idea of dying my hair another color. My mother told me to never get a gel manicure because it would completely ruin my nails.
My neighbor replied to my question, “No! I think it actually makes my nails stronger.”
I said, “Really???” While giving her a very skeptical look.
“Yes, the nail polish is so strong that it protects my nails from breakage. I’ve been doing gel for a couple of months now, and I think my nails have gotten stronger. You just have to get it removed correctly.” She said.
I was so surprised and now extremely curious to try it out, which I obviously did. The manicure lasted about two weeks before I went and got it removed. During that time I went on a cruise and used my hands a lot. The nail polish started to peel away from the tip of my nail, and dirt started to get in between the gel and my nail. I used a light color polish so the dirt was showing through. My advice is to go to a reputable place that has done gel before, and use a dark opaque color.