Tried & Tested: The Gel Manicure

Posted by: on Apr 1, 2013 | No Comments

As a professional manicure virgin (I know, I know), I decided to treat myself to the latest trend in nail care – a gel manicure. For those of you not in the know, a gel manicure has two main advantages: 1) it lasts longer than normal polishes and manicures (up to three weeks), and 2) it doesn’t damage your nails in the same way acrylic nails do. Sounds perfect, right? I thought so too. I booked myself in, and for £22 I got quite a bargain – most salons charge anything between £15 and £35.

So did it live up to my expectations? Not really. Not only did I feel that the finish wasn’t as nice as acrylics or normal polish as there were some lumps and a very noticeable raised finish, it didn’t last nearly as long as the promised duration – under a week later, many of the nails had started peeling away. Now, I have had friends tell me this is a fluke as theirs have stood the test of time, so I can’t help but wonder if it was something to do with the brand of gel polish (Gelish) or the lack of preparation that went into the nails beforehand.

At the same time, my nails were protected well and appear healthier after the treatment, the colour was bright and vibrant, and they did still last much longer than a DIY mani with normal polish. In fact, the process looked so easy, I’ve ordered my own curing nail lamp and a small selection of gels to try and perfect the art myself (all purchased for under £25 off ebay – what a steal!). I’ve also created a step-by-step for those of you who want to try it yourselves too.

1. Prep the nails. This is the most important stage of the whole manicure, as without it the manicure won’t last. Shape them as normal with a nail file, then buff the tops of the nails to take away the nature shine (important to ensure the gel sticks). Some nail technicians also recommend gently roughing up the tops with a nail file too to make the gel adhere better. Push back your cuticles with a cuticle stick, and wash your hands with soap to rid them of any excess oil before the gel application.

2. Apply the primer (AKA basecoat). It’s important to use a primer as this creates the right surface for the gel colour. Just apply one coat, then put the hand in the nail lamp for two minutues (UV lamp) or 30 seconds (LED lamp).

3. Apply the colour gel. Now choose your colour and apply like a normal nail varnish (although it may be slightly thicker). Apply one coat, then cure under the nail lamp for the same duration as above according to the lamp. Repeat the process two or three times until the desired colour intensity is achieved (the second and third layers may take longer to dry – up to 4 minutes).

4. Apply the top coat. This will give the shiny, professional finish to the manicure. Just apply one coat, then cure under the light once more until dry.

There you have it – your own DIY gel manicure!

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