Nothing makes us feel better than a perfectly polished manicure. But after approximately one hour, an inevitable chip (or two) destroys our once-perfect mani until the next time we visit the salon. Enter: gel manicures — the alluring solution to our chronic mani mishaps and promise of long-wear and chip-free polish. But, is gel polish really worth the time and money? We’re dishing on everything you need to know about gel manicures — including how to remove them — ahead.
What Is a Gel Manicure?
Gel manicures aren’t wildly different from traditional manicures. The main difference? They last longer, look stronger and feel just a tad thicker than regular polish. That being said, gel polish can be done on anyone, regardless of the shape or length of your nail. Your hands will be prepped as per usual: soak, cut and trim cuticles (if you so choose!). Sounds pretty standard, right?
After prep is when your manicure sesh changes up a bit. Gel nail polish is designed to last around two weeks, so you’ll have to select from a specific pool of polishes. Then, base coat, color and a top coat will be applied. After each step, your nail polish will dry and harden under a UV lamp. Because your hands will be under a UV rays, it’s important to apply sunscreen to them before going to the salon, like the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Mineral Sunscreen.
Can I Pick Them Off?
Picking off your gel polish after few weeks is no-go because it can do serious damage to your nails. Because the polish adheres to your nail bed, lifting it off will likely pull off layers of your actual nail as well. For safe removal at the salon or at home, do the following: soak cotton balls in acetone, place the cotton ball on your nail, wrap each finger in aluminum foil and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Once time is up, the polish should easily slide off.
What Are Some Alternatives?
If you’re always on the go and making it to the salon is out of the question, fear not. You can DIY a gel manicure at home with ease. We love the Essie Gel Couture Collection, a two-step system that can give you a gel-like finish without the fuss. All you have to do is apply two coats of your favorite color (we’re loving Rock the Runway for the holidays) and then finish it off with the platinum grade topcoat for a gel-manicure-like finish.
Art Director: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Makeup Assistant: Nana Kumi, Hair Stylist: Kiyo Igarashi, Wardrobe Stylist: Mecca James-Williams, Visual Designer: Hannah Packer, Producer: Jessica Thiel, Production Assistant: Kaela Francesca, Model: Avi McClish