The agony and ecstasy of a gel manicure

Gel Manicure: Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ashley MacKinnon Creative Commons for Flickr

Gel Manicure: Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ashley MacKinnon Creative Commons for Flickr

I’m a nail polish enthusiast. For as long as I’ve been allowed to wear nail polish, I have always loved having well manicured nails. I was lucky enough to have been born with amazing nail beds and strong nails. I have had exactly one acrylic manicure in my life, which ruined by aforementioned nails. It took a year to grow them back out.

I love trying new manicures, so when I heard about gel nail polish, I was intrigued. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I found a manicure shop that offered gel manis for a reasonable price, so I decided to get one. This process gets some flack, because the polish has to be cured with UV light. Being San Francisco, the manicurist slathered my hands with sunscreen and proceeded to place a miniature tanning bed on the table with which to cure my color.

The manicure held up as well as, if not better than advertised. After 3 weeks, I still had perfect polish, but I was getting annoyed with the length. I found out that gel polish is practically impossible to remove. I will never bemoan glittery nail polish again. I looked around the interwebs and found instructions on how to remove the polish with acetone nail wraps. First, you have to take a coarse file and remove the top coat of polish. Just don’t do it too hard, or you’ll risk ruining your nail.

Thankfully, I happen to have a bottle of 100% acetone nail polish remover, so following the filing, I soaked 10 cotton balls and wrapped them in foil around my nails. The result is awkward, so I had to do one hand at a time. After about 15 minutes, the polish slid off with ease. It was kind of like peeling old wallpaper with steam and a scraper. However, my nails still have a residual texture on them, and I did peel off some of the nail.

My verdict on gel is that it’s great for those whose polish tends to chip easily. But given the amount of time spent in the mini-tanning bed, as well as the difficulty required to remove the polish, I would leave this technique to about 1-2 times a year. I will stick with my suitcase full of OPI, Essie, and Butter London shades for weekly wear.

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