Gel polish. Is it really worth it? Is it better than normal nail polish? Will it really last for weeks?
Gel nail polish is often referred to as simply Shellac, which is one of the more common brands you’ll encounter. Other popular brands include Gelish, Opallac and Gel Color by OPI. The typical gel polish manicure popular at the moment does not involve any extensions to your nails. It is applied to your natural nail, using your own length and shape. Like a normal manicure. But better.
If you’re like me and chip your polish within hours of applying it, then you should listen up. Despite being a beauty editor, I used to go bare nailed most of the time because it was so frustrating having chipped nails all the time. Then I finally gave in to the world of gel polish and I have not looked back.
Gel polish after three days.
The big advantage to gel nail polish is that it does not chip. Not at all. Not even the tiniest little bit. Whether you spend your days typing on a computer, chasing after a toddler or working outdoors with tools and machinery, your nails will look perfect at the end of it.
Gel polish also dries incredibly quickly. UV lights are used to set the polish, and at first I was a little wary of that. I’m all about fake tan, and am never without sunscreen. Surely this was as bad as a tanning bed? There have been a range of different studies on whether these UV lamps cause skin cancer, and I would say the data is inconclusive. To be safe I apply sunscreen to my hands and arms before my manicure.
A gel manicure after ten days. No chips!
How long does it last? 10 days to two weeks is the average. While it won't chip, your nails don't stop growing. This means after around 10 days you'll start to see a little semi circle of real nail where it has started growing out. If you dye your hair, it's like seeing your roots. It depends how fast your nails grow. With nude colours this will be less obvious, but bright or dark colours will have an obvious gap showing up after about 10 days. Toenails seem to grow a little slower, so you might get more life out of your pedicure. You may also experience a bit of peeling - try not to pick at it!
The downside is that gel polish is hard to remove. You either need to go back to the salon to get them to take it off, or you can try to do it yourself by soaking your nails in pure acetone. This is not a quick process, and may require a lot of filing and buffing of your nails after the polish soaks off. If you like to change your colour regularly, you may find this frustrating.
Gel polish after two full weeks. You can see a small gap at the base of my nails.
Gel manicures can damage your nails, particularly if you are getting them regularly. The surface of your nail will probably get scratched up with all the buffing and filing. Because the gel polish is covering your nails at all times you might not notice you’re nails are weaker until you get it all removed. This is something to weigh up with all manicures, and you should look after your hands with a product like Romy Hand & Nail Cream, available in the bellabox store.
Most people get their gel polish done in a salon. You know that they’re going to get it right, plus they have a huge number of colours to choose from. But if you’ve got a steady hand with the polish, you can actually buy a kit and do it yourself at home. You can read our review of the Opallac At Home Kit right here.
I’ll never say goodbye to normal nail polish. I love my Butter London, with all those beautiful shades. I love how easy it is to apply, and how easy it is to remove! But if you want nail polish that won’t budge, maybe it’s time to try gel?
Have you tried gel polish? Are you into it? Let me know in the comments - Julia