5 Things to Know About Gel Nail Polish

By Elizabeth Dean , last updated December 21, 2011

If you're looking for a manicure that lasts longer than your usual week, consider a gel nail polish as a substitute for the original manicure. Not only will you be potentially protecting your nails from the repeated wear of original manicures, you'll also be coating your nail in a protective case of gel and vitamin E. Whether you're looking for a new type of manicure or simply don't know enough about gel manicures, here are 5 things to know about gel nail polish.

Long Lasting, Less Damaging
If you have the gel nail polish treatment, your nails will be chip free for up to 3 weeks. If you're a regular manicurist, this could translate into around 4 regular manicures. Instead of weakening your nails as regular polish does, gel nail polish will effectively protect your nails from sagging and harm. As the manicure wears, it begins to peel from the base. The gel helps to avoid accidental chipping that can ruin an even freshly painted manicure.
You can find gel nail polish at most of your higher-end nail salons. Typically, these places will advertise their gel nail treatments on their website or in the store itself. Popular brands used include OPI Axxium, Bio Sculpture Color Gel, Cal Gel, and Dashing Diva Gelife. With over a thousand different colors that you can mix, match and combine, you're sure to find the color or pattern you like the best.
The Process
Just as with a regular manicure, your cuticles are trimmed and prepped for application of a base coat. Your hands will have open-fingered gloves and be put underneath a Ultra-Violet lamp to harden the base coat and speed up the drying process. Then, just like a regular manicure, two color coats will be applied as well as a topcoat. All coats will dry under a UV lamp before the next coat is applied.
This seems to be the biggest downfall to using gel nail polish. Although you'll only have to do it once every three-or-so weeks, it can take around 15 minutes of your time. Some manicurists provide you with a take-home removal kit. This typically includes ten cotton wraps, acetone and tin foil. You must wrap each finger with a cotton wrap dipped in acetone for 10 minutes and then scrape off the remaining polish with a piece of tin foil.
The Cons
The acetone soak can be harmful to your skin; it can significantly dry out your cuticles and the soft skin surrounding your fingertips. Make sure to counter this with intense hand moisturizer treatments. Other risks have been reported from cases of inattentive care. Several toe gel pedicures have gone awry after the customer left the gel polish on for close to 6 weeks, and a fungus spread underneath her toe nails. The final con for gel manicures is that due to the drying equipment a professional must apply it and remove any excess for a price. This can be costly, especially to a person skilled in painting their own nails.
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