I have never been a nail polish girl. I don’t have the patience to keep up with at-home manicures and in the past, didn’t want to budget for salon manicures. I did nail try polish manicures here and there over the years. But long nails didn’t work for my lifestyle, and I thought short nails looked too stubby (I don’t have long nail beds). Nail polish chipped too quickly if I didn’t put a coat of clear over the color every day – who has time for that?? It actually was a solution to preventing chipped polish, but then I had to sit there doing nothing while the polish dried. I came to the conclusion that nail polish didn’t work for me.
I was beginning to feel like I wanted my hands to look a little more polished (pun intended!). I’m getting a little older, and a bit of tasteful style makes me feel better.
I decided to revisit the whole painted nails topic. First, I looked for a local salon with great reviews and recommendations. Check! I found one that I’d heard very good things about for a couple of years. I phoned spur of the moment and was able to grab a same-day appointment.
This time, I was not going to set myself up for disappointment with the whole nail polish routine. A gel manicure was my focus.
Gel Manicures – What I Love
Actually, I’d had gel manicures a few times in years past, when they were kind of a new thing. They always seemed to begin to lift on the tips before I was ready for my next appointment, and I’d begin to peel the gel off my nails, taking a layer of the nail off with the gel. Also, I hated how the gel was removed in the salon – by soaking the nails with acetone. It just felt unhealthy.
But what’s popular changes and so do formulas and techniques. The new gel formulas seem to be much better quality, and the gel polish never lifts before my next appointment (unless I use my fingernail as a tool!). Also, the manicurists at this salon remove the gel by filing it off with an electric spinning file or drill. My nails feel healthy.
The very best part of a gel manicure is that I walk out of the salon with totally dry and set gel polish. I can rummage through my purse on the way out of the salon and my nails are PERFECT!
That Pesky Outgrowth – What I do about it
I have been doing gel manicures every two weeks. However, it drives me crazy to see the outgrowth at the base of my nails. So I opt for neutral color polishes so it’s not so obvious at the end of two week that the polish color doesn’t go all the way to the cuticle.
Here’s a photo of my recent gel manicure at the end of two weeks and my fresh gel manicure. If you look really close, it’s obvious. But in the course of my regular activities, the neutral polish really does disguise the outgrowth.
Gel Manicure After Two Weeks
Fresh Gel Manicure
Gel Manicure Pros and Cons
Although I am loving the look and convenience of my gel manicures, I guess I’m still not sure it’s the best solution. I’ve read that there may be some risk, although slight, related to the curing method that is accomplished with the use of UV light.
After each coat of polish, you slide your hand into a small UV light curing machine (see the photo below) for one minute. In my anecdotal research, I read about the UV light machines and the question of cancer risk. However, in several different articles, dermatologists noted that the exposure from a gel manicure UV light machine is minimal and unlikely to cause cancer. There is a possibility of photoaging (aging of the skin due to sun exposure) from UV light exposure. Aaack! I hadn’t thought of that. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen on hands and fingers before a gel manicure or wearing gloves with the finger tips cut off to protect the skin on your hands. Makes sense, and you bet I’ll be loading up with sunscreen before my salon visits from now on.
I did learn that some salons offer machines that cure gel manicures with LED light rather than UV light, which doesn’t pose any cancer risk. I don’t know which my salon uses, but I’ll find out!
I also saw recommendations to take a break from gel manicures now and then for a couple of weeks to expose your nails to oxygen.
What’s the verdict?
I am really enjoying my gel manicures for now. I prefer my nails short-ish, and with a nice, low-key, neutral polish that never chips; it makes me feel just a tad more “put together.”
If a gel manicure sounds like something that would work for you, give it a try! But be sure to know what you’ll get from the salon you choose. All salons are not created equal, and you want your experience to meet your expectations.