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06-16-11 | Posted by

Not all fingernails are created equal. Some are actually constructed out of gel by a pro nail tech.  Gel manicures are the rage because they last two to three weeks and take about three minutes to dry with no risk of smudging the polish before you leave the salon. Quick-drying, long-lasting brush on gel polish is taking center stage at salons all over the country, especially for busy women who don’t want to be a slave to a salon.

Gel nails are a type of artificial nails that most closely resembles the natural nail. Similar to their predecessor acrylic nails, they are also made from a combo of monomer liquid and polymer powder. The monomer liquid reacts with the polymer powder to form long polymer strands. The strands dry and form a hard resin. Gel nails come in two basic types; light cured and no-light gels. Light cured gel nails are hardened by placing your fingers under UV light for about two minutes. No-light gel acrylic nails are cured by applying a gel activator that gets brushed or sprayed on nails. The process is pretty straightforward but can take 30 – 45 minutes. The chip-resistant polish is brushed on by your nail technician. After each coat of gel, plus base coat and top coat, your hands are placed under a UV lamp to speed up the dry time. Within three minutes of the last coat, you’re good to go!

But the UV lights used to harden the gel may cause premature wrinkling on your hands if you do it often. Depending on the technician, the removal process can be pretty rough. First your nails will get filed, then dipped in acetone for five to ten minutes. Whatever does not come off through soaking, will get scraped off. Acetone can be irritating and cause redness, flaking and scaling. When your polish begins to chip, if you try to peel it off yourself you may end up taking the top layer of your nail off with it! Truly you need to go to more high end salons to get this process right and keep your nails in healthy shape.

The beauty of gel nails is that they are more natural looking and flexible and less prone to chipping than acrylic nails. But they are high maintenance – gel nails have to be refilled as they grow out and the gel starts to get cloudy, so be prepared for a long and expensive, plus time consuming commitment. The first time you get gel nails done, the initial cost can be staggering – upwards of $75 in some salons. However, refills are much less expensive.

Two of the best brands in the gel nail category are: OPI Axxium www.opi.com/ and Shellac from CND www.cnd.com


  • Bring your own good quality polish to the salon to make sure it is not diluted or thinned out.
  • Reapply top coat every 72 hours to keep polish from chipping – JESSICA Brilliance Top Coat can prolong your mani for a week with UV inhibitors and reflective polymers to prevent chips and yellowing.
  • Barielle Intensive Nail Renewal Oil works wonders for dry cuticles – apply as often a possible for best results.

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