Image Courtesy of Gelish.com
I know, I know...I'm probably the last beauty fanatic on the planet who hasn't yet tried the gel polish manicure. It's not that I haven't been interested, trust me. Rather, the salon I used to go to only had a few colors (all of them relatively pale neutrals, which, as you all know, is not my thing). Add to that the fact that they require soaking off in the salon when they (finally) require removal. Finally, and most importantly, there's the fact that I'm not allowed to wear polish to my job since I work in a kitchen. With all of those factors working against me, I just never had the time to get the job done...plus, I hadn't seen any nice dark colors that appealed to me, so it seemed a waste.
Luckily for me, we're out of school for 2 1/2 weeks for Christmas. I, of course, took the opportunity to get a mani/pedi the day after school let out, and I was delighted to see that the choice of colors has expanded dramatically since last I looked. My dark, vampy colors now exist in gel polish! So as you might expect, I was off and running.First, a bit about gel polish. It looks like regular polish, it applies the same way regular polish does, but that's where the similarity ends. It's not dried in the traditional manner; rather, it must be cured under a UV or LED light for 30-180 seconds depending on the light source (30 for LED lights, up to 180 for the dark colors under UV light). After curing, you're left with a hard, glassy, virtually indestructible finish that will not come off no matter how much you abuse it. Yes, you read that right--this stuff is impossible to mess up once it's been applied and cured. I know, because I tried. And tried. And tried. I opened cans, scrubbed dishes, even pried open a key chain ring with my nails for a week and there was no sign of abuse whatsoever. None.
As a matter of fact, here's a shot of my nails after that horrifying week. Ignore the fact that the application looks a bit messy at the cuticles...it's grown out some. Trust me when I say that it looked perfect when first applied. However, what you should be looking at is the overall finish and condition of the polish after all the hell I put it through.
See? Still shiny with no chips whatsoever.
The polish used on me is from Gelish, which is a fabulous line that boasts 72 colors. It looks just like a normal container of nail polish and applies in the same manner. However, there are some extra steps that are taken:
- After prepping nails normally, the nails are "roughed up" slightly for better adhesion.
- A pH bond is applied to the nail plate.
- A thin coat of foundation polish is applied, followed by curing time under the lights.
- The actual gel polish is then applied (Melissa used 2 thin coats, curing between each coat).
- A gel sealer is applied in a thin coat and cured under the lights.
- After the final cure, a special cleanser is rubbed over the nails to remove the tacky surface.
After all that, you're left with perfect nails! Easy peasy! Although there is some wait time while curing takes place between coats, it's only for a minute or so at a time. Best of all, there's no waiting after application is completed. I got my toes done today and was able to put socks and boots on and walk out of the salon less than 5 minutes after Melissa finished with me, with no fear of ruining my pedicure! Gotta love that.
Bottom Line: Gels are definitely the polish of the future. Although they require a professional (unless you want to purchase your own light source) and despite the fact that I'll have to go back to have them soaked off, the convenience of having a manicure that lasts until it literally grows out is well worth it. I literally will not have to remove it until my nails have grown out to the point that they look ridiculous (or when school starts back, whichever comes first). Now that the color selection has gotten so much better, there should be a shade for just about anyone. Treat yourself!
For Gelish polishes, there is a salon locator on the web site, although it's far from comprehensive. However, it shouldn't be difficult to find gel polish at your local salon, whether it's Gelish or not.