I’m not a mani-pedi every weekend kind of girl. Heck, I’m not even a mani-pedi every year kind of girl. I can probably count the number of times I’ve been into a nail salon on two hands. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve painted my own fingers and toes plenty. I’m pretty good with the brush, and once I discovered drying drops, it didn’t even take that long to do.
But two months ago when I was having a super stressful week at work, I treated myself to a trip to the salon, mostly because I knew they’d hook it up with a massage in addition to the typical services. Until this point, I’d heard people mention “gel” or “shellac” manicures before, but I didn’t have a clear idea what it was beyond a long-lasting polish. Both my managers at work get gel, and I loved the idea of my polish not chipping the next time I washed the dishes. And now that I’m on gel manicure #3, I’m officially hooked. So let me give you the skinny:
So what is a gel manicure anyways?
Gel manicures are extremely revolutionary in the beauty industry, a paint polish that lasts for 2-3 weeks without chipping and without any dry time. It goes on quite smoothly and flawlessly, but still feels “natural” like normal polish and not thick like faux, acrylic nails. In between every layer of polish, the gel is set under an ultra-violet or LED light, and after 60 seconds, it’s completely hard and dry.
There is no doubt that they look and act pretty incredible – but there are some potential downsides. For one, gel is somewhat tough on your nails between the buffing and peeling required when adding and removing gel. The acetone needed to remove is also not great for your skin, although a good nail technician will do her best to make sure there’s limited contact. Finally, there’s some debate about whether the brief time under the UV or LED light is terrible for your body or not. There’s no definitive studies yet that say either way, although I can certainly understand the caution.
What’s my opinion about gel manicures?
I have to say, I’m pretty darn sold. For one, I have extremely strong nails so the bit of damage they receive doesn’t seem to be negatively impacting them. I’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of compliments the last few weeks, and I love how professional and polished (pun intended) they appear every time I look down at them.
It’s a little bit expensive – $35 at my salon including tip. And since I’ve recently gone on a bit of a spending freeze and am seriously taking up budgeting, I’ve been having a frank conversation with myself as to whether it’s how I want to spend my very limited fun funds. But I’m finding I’m able to make the polish last three whole weeks, despite the bit of bare nail I start to see at the bottom bed, and once a month is not quite as outrageous a cost as every other week.
There are some home gel kits you can purchase for around $100, which is a much better deal. The application process is a bit more complicated than regular polish, however, and if I’m being honest, part of the appeal is it’s nice to just sit back and be pampered for a few minutes anyways.
Have you ever tried gel nail polish before? Do you regularly paint your nails or visit a salon?