How is a two-week manicure possible, you ask? Via soakable gels. My friend Lily turned me on to soakable gel polish. It isn’t like acrylics, where they build up the nail with a tip and then put a thick coating on top. It is more akin to a very study manicure. It is a polish that they harden with a UV light box. It doesn’t make your nails longer, as there is no tip involved, but it does make them a touch stronger, though very flexible still. They are also not as damaging as acrylics. To remove the polish, they soak a cotton pad in acetone, put it on the nail, cover it in foil and let it sit for a little while. Usually by the time they are done foiling all of the nails, it is time to start removing the first ones that were put on. Then they use a hand-held metal scraper to scrape the now softened polish off. If they used an emery board, the polish would gum up the board. Yes I know that sounds harsh, but it isn’t bad – no worse than pushing back the cuticles, and certainly not as damaging as the dremel tool sander they use on acrylic nails. And who can complain about a manicure that lasts two weeks? For my first experiment I actually went three weeks, as I wanted to see how long they really lasted.
Finished product. A half moon manicure (tricky with gel polish, but still doable.)
End of week one. Showing a little cuticle grow-out, but still looking good.
End of week two. One of my nails developed a tiny chip and the “moon” is getting bigger.
But the rest of the nails (unseen) look good.
End of three weeks. Not so much a half moon anymore as a waxing gibbous (yes, geeky, I know.)
Tips are showing their wear (and dirt under the fingernails from gardening).
By the end of three weeks and a day of serious pig-skin glove labor in my yard, a couple more of my nails started to peel and chip at the tip, but looked shockingly good for being a three week manicure. With a regular manicure I’m lucky if I get a full day before something chips. If you wore a light color, you might be able to stretch it to three, but I wear red, so the growth at the cuticle shows too much to go any longer than that.
They are a little more expensive than a normal manicure, but not too much more. Is it worth it? For me it is. My natural nails peel very easily and tear down to the quick. I actually used to hurt myself frequently because of how easily they split. I used to wear acrylics just to help protect my nails – sounds silly I know, considering how damaging acrylics are, but my fingers in the short-term were protected. With the gel manicures, I get a little bit more protection on my nails than bare nails without the damaging effects of acrylics.
So I think I’ve found a solution to having nice nails that have a protective little shield on them. For me personally, it is a win.