If you haven’t heard the hype about gel nail designs yet, let me fill you in.
Precursor: I’m a sports addict. When I’m playing soccer, or volley ball, or tennis, I’m sure as hell not paying attention to the state of my fingernails. I’m winning the game. It’s a passion that’s sent more than one painstakingly achieved manicure to the graveyard.
Here’s the Catch-22. I also love to flaunt my femininity, and one of my favorite ways to do it is through catchy nail designs.
That’s where gel nail polish comes in. Meet your Angelina Jolie’s of nail polishes: it’s smart, sexy, and it’s hard-core durable. A manicure with gel nail polish will easily last you two to three weeks without chipping.
Mamma, what’s the secret?
So what’s so special about gel nail designs that make these nail designs age so much better? Gel nail polish is made of UV gel. Each coating put under a UV lamp for about three minutes to dry. It’s a process that more or less bakes the nail polish into your nails. It comes at a cost, of course:
One, it’s long. Any nail manicurist that knows her stuff is going to apply three to four thin coats, instead of one or two thick ones. The thinner the gel coating the better, because it allows for deeper penetration, and lessens that chance that the polish will shrink up on you, causing nail plate damage.
Then of course, is the fact that you’re stuck with one nail design for three weeks, which is a bit too boring for my liking. I solve this by painting over my gel nail designs with other, regular nail polish. As soon as you want your original gel nail design manicure back, just use regular nail polish remover to wash the over layer off: simple as that.
Last, gel nails are (understandably) more expensive. My gel manicure ran about $45.00, but they can easily run more expensive. So, is it worth the trouble?
My Nail Design Odyssey
I took the plunge in a fit of desperation. Let me paint you a picture:
My nails are a mess. It’s less than five hours until I’ve got to attend this really huge event. It’s the biggest event in my life so far. It’s the event that I’ve been planning for it since I was five years old, and I got to put on a lovely, white princess-dress with yellow flowers around it’s waist and carry tulips at my aunt’s wedding. Mine was going to be filled to the brim with tiger lilies, and I’ll be damned if my nails weren’t going to match them.
Eight hours before the wedding, I go to the spa for a manicure, and come out with breathtaking, tiger lily themed, acrylic nails.
Six hours before my wedding it occurs to me to play a game of volleyball. Ladies, a piece of advice: save the volleyball for after the ceremony.
Less than five hours before the ceremony, and my nails are a mess.
Rush to the Spa
It’s four hours before the wedding and I’m back at the spa, and they don’t have any room for me. At four hours before the wedding, you are not supposed to be back at the spa, finding out that they can’t fit you in. This is just not supposed to happen. Theresa, my then-stylist (who thinks her hair looks good with a blues streak in it), sends me to another place a few blocks a way. It’s a place that, unbeknownst to me, specializes in gel nail designs.
Three hours before the wedding: my mom is bringing the dress to the spa. Laurel, my new stylist finishes trimming and filing my nails, just like any other manicure.
Two hours and forty-five minutes before the ceremony, and she finishes applying one coat of tiger lily colored polish.
Two hours and forty three minutes and counting: she dries them under a UV light.
Two hours and thirty-nine minutes and counting: she’s applying the next coat.
Two hours and thirty-six minutes: that coats dry.
After a third coat, a third drying, with two hours and twenty seven minutes to go, my mom is at the spa with the dress, and I’ve got tiger lily nails that are more fabulous than Take 1. Which is how, by chance, I lost my gel-nail-manicure virginity, and how Theresa with the blue streak in her hair, accidentally lost a client.
Do Your Gel Nail Designs: A 7-Step DIY Quick Guide
Call me a romantic but I’ll never go down the acrylic road again. While I prefer to go see Laurel whenever possible, I’m so addicted that I’ve invested in an at home system. Here are some tips for first timers:
- As with any manicure, before starting, always clean and file your nails.
- Always keep one side of your brush clean by swiping it along the edge of the nail polish jar.
- Make sure that your brush hairs don’t spread out, that means you are applying too much pressure, and maybe too much gel in your coat.
- Don’t overdo it. Overdoing it makes for air-bubbles and uneven paint jobs.
- Remember to dry your nails after every coat.
- Four to Five thin coats are much more effective than two thick ones.
- Do not hold your hands under the UV light for more than 3 minutes at a time.