I was very interested to read the favourable Guardian article about gel manicures by Sali Hughes, one of my fave beauty journalists, because I have to admit to being more on the fence on this one.
I agree with Sali that ordinary nail varnish can be an absolute bugger to maintain, and there’s nothing more annoying than spending a whole evening carefully applying base coat, two layers of varnish and top coat only for it all to chip off the next day.
The main selling point of the gel manicure is that lasts for up to 3 weeks and dries instantly, avoiding that awkward moment where you try to put your coat using your elbows. However the pay off for this staying power, in my experience, is that the polish is a complete nightmare to remove.
Both the gel manicures I had were done using Artistic Colour Gloss nail polish, and unfortunately the range of colours was quite limited. There was nothing particularly bright and bold, perhaps because when committing to a colour for this long customers prefer something more neutral (not me!)
Anyway for the first manicure I went for the only vibrant colour available – bright orange. I was definitely pleased with the results, particularly the gold flecked sparkle you can see below.
My next gel manicure was a few months later at The Beauty Lounge in central London, a favourite spot for celebs (well, I did spot Lucy from The X Factor there!) The Beauty Lounge beauticians were responsible for keeping Kelly Rowland’s nails in check during her X Factor judging last year, so obviously when asked about the colours I wanted, “I want what Kelly has” was the only answer.
Well apparently Kelly is a fan of the statement nail, so I ended up with the look below:
I liked the results of both, but have to say I found the nail varnish looked and felt really thick (‘Are they meant to stick out that much?’ was a question I got asked more than once!) I was surprised that neither salon gave me any advice on removing the gel, but luckily my colleagues told me that I had to soak them for 15 mins in a nail polish remover containing acetone.
Well if only it was that easy. After 30 mins soaking, I was hardly making any progress, and have to admit that, in objection to the £20 removal fee from the salon, I ended up picking the bloody things off. Yes, I know, it’s the one thing you’re definitely not meant to do. But there didn’t seem any other way to go about it!
Needless to say my nails underneath were an absolute mess, and in a catch-22 situation, I now have to keep painting them to cover up the horrible state they’re in. I’m sure it’s not helping improve the nails underneath but I can’t bear for them to be seen.
So yes, gel nails are good if you’re ok with sticking to a fairly basic colour palette and are willing to fork out £20 to get the colour removed. Otherwise avoid avoid AVOID!