Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Wonders of Gel Polish

I ran to the spa to escape technology and it followed me.

I've got a real love for the new gel polishes that came out within the last year or so.  They have great colors which are incredibly glossy and - best of all - they are nigh indestructible.

More about the pros and cons of gel polish after the jump.

Nails by Sid Sloth
I believe the other ladies here like to do their own nails.  I've seen them post various nail-related things for you to Do It Yourself.  There are polish combinations and stickers and stencils and everything in between.  I've seen some amazing nail blogs where the gals have just done incredible stuff with polish.  Unfortunately, when I Do It Myself, it looks like a near-sighted sloth with poor motor control painted my nails. That's why I leave it to professionals.

There are several brands of this new gel-based polish. Shellac and Gelish are the two main brands we see here on the East Coast, and I have to say that Gelish wins the day. It has more (and better) colors, but also most of its colors have a matching regular polish so that you can get your toes done with the same color you used on your finger nails. Both brands retain their color and gloss for the entire time you wear them; it will look as good on day 14 as it did on day 1 (except, you know, all grown out).

This UV light sets the polish
What's the difference between gel polish and normal polish? One big difference in the gel polishes is that they use an ultraviolet light to set them. So, you do a coat, then pop your hand into this UV lamp thing for 20 seconds or so and it 'sets' the polish. It's totally dry when you take your hand out. Repeat that for each coat, and when the manicure is over, your nails are completely dry and basically impervious to damage. Also, dark colors won't stain your nails since the base coat is sealed and dry by the time the color goes on.

Therein lies a small downside of the gel polishes - they are indestructible and they retain their gloss, yes, however, you pay for that at polish change time because you have to soak the polish off.  You end up soaking your nails in acetone for about 10 minutes, then the polish flakes right off.

Another small downside is that it does cost more.  How much more depends on where you go.  I was getting absolutely shanghai'd by the fancy spa near my house - $42 for the polish, and $18 for the soak-off fee.  Most strip mall places will do it for $27, and there's no soak off fee. (Suck it, fancy pants place!)

For someone like me who types constantly, normal polish is a wreck in about 4 days.  I've been wearing this gel stuff consistently for about a year and I've managed to mar it even slightly only once.  I was slicing a loaf of french bread and sliced right through my nail and its polish. (Ow.)

I tried to get a picture of the before and after to show you how perfect my old polish still was after 23 days (slack, I know), but have you ever tried to take a picture of your own hand with your phone? The results were not so hot, but you can see there's not so much as a chip and they still gleam pretty nicely.

23 days of wear
All in all, if you are the manicure-getting kind of gal, I highly recommend this polish.  It looks great and it's nigh impossible to scratch, chip or otherwise mutilate.

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  1. Is this gel polish only available at nail salons?

  2. Nope! You can get it at any beauty supply store or even from Amazon. But the kicker is, you have to buy the lights to flash it dry, it won't dry right without them, and the lights are like 40 bucks. Plus, there's a base oil that goes on beneath the base coat, then a cleanser polish thing they use over the top coat. There'd be a big initial investment, though it'd pay for itself in a couple of polish changes, I imagine.

  3. Iiiiinteresting. I usually have naked nails because I'm actually a trainwreck when it comes to doing my own polish. But indestructible color sounds promising ...