Thursday, November 23, 2017

Why gel manicures aren't for me, but I have an alternative.

When gel manicures first came out, I was intrigued.  A nail polish that won't chip after two days?  But I never tried out gels because it would have required a trip to the salon and I had sworn off salon manicures years prior to that.  I love having painted nails but I'd never been able to find a nail technician who met my standards.  Sometimes the polish application was sloppy.  Sometimes my nails were shaped in a way I didn't like.  I used that time at the salon to learn the tricks of the trade and then went back to self-manicures.

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?
  1. 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. 
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  TGUH is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program LLC, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


Marcia (123 blog) said...

Sarah, I love this post!

I wrote two posts on nail polish too for much the same reasons - i get bored after about 5 days and I feel like I've figured how to make the polish last.

Here's the fun part - I'm also wearing a navy blue polish in my post :)

Peyton Lane said...

I'm intrigued, is this nail polish more difficult to take off than other nail polishes? Meaning, do you have to scrub the way you do with a glitter nail polish to remove it?

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing, Marcia!

Peyton - I don't find it any more difficult to remove than regular polish.

Christi said...

I'm a fan of gel manicures. I'm lucky that I found a nail tech I love and the salon is around the corner from my office. I am terrible at shaping my nails myself! The bonus is that I haven't had any bad nail breaks since I started in the summer. I do put SPF on my hands before I go to protect against the light.

When I use regular polish, I also use Orly Bonder base coat and either Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat or Julep Freedom top coat and I can go about 7 days before chipping/wear.

Peyton, to remove glitter nail polish, I follow this blog suggestion and it works great with no scrubbinig!

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

I haven't tried Essie, but I do like the Sally Hansen "miracle gel." It doesn't require light either.

I tried jamberry nails once and thought they were a PAIN to apply, but they were pretty once they were on (and I thought they were worse to remove in terms of damage to the nails). I've had a couple gel manicures, but I primarily don't wear polish on my fingernails just because I chip within a day. I try to keep polish on my toenails though (even if just to hide any bruising from dance, running, or other activities, haha).