Nail gel reportedly doesn't chip as easily as nail polish alone and is often billed as a "more natural alternative" to acrylics. But is it?

A lot of women like gel manicures because they look good for weeks and feel natural.

But some treatments touted as gels include acrylics, which can contain chemicals that may be harmful. Just a day after Jane Ubell-Meyer got what she was told was a gel manicure she was in agony, suffering what seemed to be electric shocks whenever her thumb touched anything.

"The shock went not only down my thumb, it went through my elbow up to my arm. And I'm in such pain, I'm almost crying from the pain," Ubell-Meyer said.

After examining Ubell-Meyer, neurologist Orly Avitzur, who is also a medical consultant for Consumer Reports, immediately suspected the chemicals in the manicure.

"I believe that [Ubell-Meyer] had a gel manicure that also included acrylics. When I examined her thumb, I saw that it had been scraped raw by an electrical file. What I believe happened is that this caused the chemicals to seep in and cause nerve damage," Avitzur said.

Believe it or not, most of the ingredients used in nail products are not tested for safety by Health Canada before being sold.

And in fact, some of the acrylics used with gels can be associated with fingernail damage and deformity.

Health Canada advises that before receiving a nail service at a salon, consumers should ask the technician what material is being used in the nail builder.

Products with the chemical MMA are banned; those with EMA are allowed.

Gels are applied with a small brush, then placed under an ultraviolet light to harden. There is no combining of products, so if a salon uses a mixture of liquid and powder, this is not a gel.

"Another problem with gel manicures is rough or painful filing of the surface of the nail, which can cause damage," Avitzur said.

Dr. Avitzur says that after looking into gel manicures, she recommends sticking with good old-fashioned nail polish. If you're patient and get several coats, nail polish can last a week or more.

Consumer Reports says be sure to take basic precautions like making sure that the salon is squeaky clean.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen.