If you read this blog, you’re probably a crafty, handy person. You probably do a lot with your hands. Being an active user of my hands, one thing I hate is having ugly nails. I mean, I have to look at them a lot, and if I’m showing off my handiwork (get it?), others have to look at them, too. Â I’ve tried nearly everything to have nice nails, and let me tell you – the best ways ain’t cheap.
My natural nails are weak, scraggly, peel-y, and horrible. I usually have them cut down to the quick because even the slightest bit of length will chip easily, and then catch on something and rip off painfully. Yuck.
For a long time, I had acrylics, but I had a terrible experience one day in a salon (I won’t go into the details, but it involved having them ripped off and leaving gaping holes in my nailbeds). After that, I got gel nails (at a different salon!) and I really liked them, but they were still pricey and I hated having to keep making appointments. They usually took about an hour, too. That’s a lot of time!
The best solution I had that didn’t involve artificials was removing the polish and re-polishing them nearly every day. It really did help keep up their strength – but again, time consuming.
I decided to try gel nail polish after hearing some great things – the claim is that your polish will stay rock-solid and not chip – ever. Your polish will stay put until you take it off. Theoretically, you won’t have to do your nails again until they grow out.
I found these claims to be somewhat of a stretch, but the results were still impressive.
They're not perfect, but they're nicer than usual! Plus - they last about two weeks!
Before you start reading, there are a few things you need to know:
1. You don’t have to spend as much as they want you to.
2. There is a learning curve. Beware- they probably won’t be what you expect the first few times you do it.
3. If you can’t polish your nails without flooding your cuticles, you will probably be disappointed. It might be best to have a friend do this for you.
I purchased the Harmony Gelish Basix Kit. It comes with everything except for the actual colored polish and the UV light. It’s $26.99 on Amazon; I got mine at Sally for $45! (Keep reading, though – I do NOT recommend buying the Basix Kit!)
You also need a UV light. There are quite a few options at Sally, and I’ve even seen them at WalMart. They usually run about $25. I have the Gelish one. I do recommend getting one with an AC adaptor, if possible. They really do eat batteries.
You’ll also need some gel polish. The Gelish brand is about $12 per bottle. There aren’t many colors, but I have heard of people having limited success with normal polish, using the gel base and top coats.
However, after I experimented a few times with the Gelish polish, I tried another brand – ProFX. I got a package with pink and white for French manicures for only $7 at WalMart. There are some other colors, as well. I’m happy to say that they’re just as good as the Gelish stuff- I would assume any of the gel polishes will work just as well.
Here’s where I can save you some money.Â
The Basix Kit from Gelish has a Nail Surface Cleanse, Artificial Nail Remover, PH Bond, Foundation, Top It Off, Nourish, and an instructional DVD. The only ones you truly need are the Foundation and Top It Off.
Why is this?
The Nail Surface Cleanse is just isopropyl alcohol and acetone. That’s right – rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover.
The PH Bond is isopropyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and isobutyl acetate. The purpose of it is drying the heck out of your nails so the other stuff can adhere. You can get by using just rubbing alcohol.
Nourish is a blend of oils – mostly almond, sesame, sunflower , and grapeseed. You can use any sort of cuticle oil.
Artificial Nail Remover is mostly acetone- there are some other ingredients thrown in to make it less harsh, but you can purchase “normal” artificial nail remover anywhere. Or, you can use acetone, which is what I do.
Finally, I found that the DVD was really unnecessary, and most of it is available on YouTube.Â Â The written instructions really do suffice.
In general, the most important thing is how you apply it. Â Here are some tips I’ve learned.
- Make sure your cuticles are pushed back and any scraggly hangnails trimmed. This is important.
- Work on a tabletop. I have a habit of doing my nails on the couch, and it’s just not going to work for this. Learn from my mistakes!
- Take your time. If you get the foundation, color, or topcoat on your cuticles or skin, start over. If you cure it and it’s touching your skin, it will lift off the nail. Unfortunately, if you’re me, it also peels off a layer or two of your fingernail. Yeah, it’s not pleasant.
- The stuff is sticky until you wipe it off with rubbing alcohol at the end. Be very careful not to get fuzz or lint on it anywhere in the meantime. It’s impossible to get out.
- This is tough if you have short nails, but make sure you apply each layer to the tip of your nail, too. If that’s not possible without getting it on your skin, make sure you have a cuticle stick or q-tips with acetone to wipe it off.
- Resist the temptation to peel it off too soon when you’re removing them – it they aren’t soft enough from soaking in the acetone and/or remover, they will peel off your nails. No thank you.
I’ve found that this is worth it. I only have to do my nails every two weeks or so, and while it takes longer than an average manicure, it’s still less time than going to a nail salon. You also get to avoid having thick, obnoxious artificials. Oh yeah, it’s way cheaper, too.
Do you have any experience with gel polish? Have any tips/tricks? What has your experience been like?