One can now purchase salon-level gel polish and supplies, such as a UV light, on the internet or in beauty supply stores. I remember when my options for nail polish were limited to the offerings at the drug store and those inevitably chipped within two days. We've come a long way, baby!
Even though an at-home gel manicure is possible, I'm still not interested. Why?
- It can ruin your nails. The process to remove a gel manicure is quite laborious and usually involves soaking nails in 100% acetone along with scraping and filing. Nails can be left dry, brittle, weak, peeling or worse. I have fairly strong nails and no interest in damaging them.
- I can't imagine wearing the same color polish for two weeks. This may sound . . . odd, but I like to change up colors and after a week, I'm itching for a change. Sometimes after five days, I'm ready for a change. (Side story. I worked with a woman with acrylic nails who wore the same sand glitter polish all the time. With all of the options out there, why stay with the same exact color? They weren't even my nails and it bothered me!)
- My nails grow fast and the space left between my cuticle and the polish line would annoy me.
There are other warnings related to gel polish that aren't necessarily part of my decision process but don't make gels look any more appealing, in my opinion.
- In order to cure gel polish, you need exposure to UV light. Supposedly, the time needed to cure the polish isn't long enough to cause any damage but you're still exposing your skin to UV light.
- There are potentially dangerous chemicals in gel polishes. (I feel like there are potentially dangerous chemicals in everything.)
An alternative to gel manicures?
I want a manicure that will last for a week but I don't want to go with a gel polish. My solution? A faux gel manicure. It seems like all the major nail polish lines have faux gels now. What's a faux gel? Well, first of all, that's my term for it. It's polish that doesn't need to cure with a UV light and can easily be removed with regular nail polish remover. You're guaranteed an extended wear time without the negatives of gel polish.
I'm currently into Essie's Gel Couture line of faux gel polishes. The application process is simple. You apply two (sometimes I need three) coats of Gel Couture polish directly onto your nails (no base coat) and finish off with the Gel Couture top coat. You do not need any type of light to cure the polish. Although, I have read that exposure to natural light will speed up the drying time.
When this line was first introduced, Essie claimed the polish would last for 14 days. I, along with other polish addicts, scoffed. Could a Gel Couture manicure last for 14 days? Possibly. I have noticed that Essie's website now describes Gel Couture as "longwear perfection" without the original 14 day claim. I've found it's reasonable to expect 10 days of wear.
I'm currently wearing Find Me A Mannequin, an ultramarine blue. This is what my nails looked like on Day 1:
And here is Day 7:
I used two coats of color with no base coat (as directed), one layer of the gel couture top coat and one layer of Essie's Good To Go top coat.
I took the Day 7 photos yesterday and today, Day 8, I still don't have any chips. It's hard to tell in the above photo but there is some minor wear on my nail tips and my nails aren't as shiny as Day 1. The lighting in the Day 7 photo isn't the same so the shine does look different. I'm staring at my nails so of course I see this but to others, they probably look pretty much the same.
But I already have a nail polish collection I love.
If you don't want to buy new nail polishes, which I completely understand, try using a faux gel top coat with your favorite polishes. I have and use Essie's Gel-Setter top coat and it does extend the life of regular polish by a few days.
You could also be a rebel and use the Gel Couture top coat on regular polish too.
My manicure always chips no matter what because I wash dishes all the time.
I cook dinner five to six times a week and wash dishes several times a day. We have a dishwasher but only half of what we use goes through it. I can't do anything about all the hand washing that takes place, especially during food preparation, but I can protect my nails during dish duty. I have two pairs of non-latex gloves. I use one pair for washing dishes and the other for cleaning.
I'll leave you with another tip for lasting manicures. When you're painting your nails, be sure to paint or "wrap" the nail tips. How do you do this? After you paint your nail, take what's left on the brush and swipe it across the tip of your nail. I usually do half the nail at a time, one swipe from each side of the nail tip. Be sure to do the same with your top coat.
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