Gel manicures – my thoughts

I don’t normally “do” my fingernails. It takes ages to do it properly, and, realistically, hours before they dry hard enough to do anything normal and practical, (like removing car keys from one’s handbag or putting out the rubbish) without smudging. I can’t bear smudged, chipped nail polish and would rather do without, à la Parisienne. A good manicure does look pretty, however, so I have succumbed on occasion, only to have my carefully-grown nails break one by dismal one in the next couple of days.

So I have investigated gel manicures once or twice. They dry instantly and purport to stay put for between two and four weeks, depending on their publicity, so they are great for holidays and festivities. I have, however, always had a problem with the damage they cause to my nails, which has in the past lasted months. I had a lovely red Jessica Geleration manicure over Christmas, which lasted around two weeks but then started peeling and my nails were horribly fragile for a couple of months later. So I’ve been reluctant to spend this money to ruin my nails.

I was attempting to grow my nails for an ordinary manicure before my recent visit to Rome but, as usual, they grew to a nice length then broke. Nonetheless, Zoran the manicurist at Equus is terribly persuasive and comes highly recommended. He applied a natural Artistic Gel to make them look nice for Rome with a view to giving them a strengthening calcium treatment when the gel is removed. This is a picture of them today, nine days after Zoran applied them:

So far, only one nail has started to break, and was fine when I filed it, so the gel seems to have given my nails a chance to grow. I am just waiting for the gel to start to peel at the ends, as Zoran warned me it would, because of the sloping shape of my fingernails. Or perhaps it will start to peel at the cuticle end as the nails grow. Then I’ll be straight on the phone to have them soaked off to prevent any damage.

I think buffing with an Emery board to key the surface of the nail before application of the gel causes this damage (Zoran did not buff them at all) but what is worse, in my view, is the irresistible desire to help the lacquer off the nails when it starts to peel. When you peel the gel off, it must take at least the top layer of fingernail with it, so I’d say that it’s essential to make an appointment to have the gel professionally soaked off at the salon AS SOON AS it starts to chip.

The success and longevity of a gel manicure also depends on the attention to detail of the manicurist applying it. Even a small fissure at this stage will let in air, water and bacteria and lead to weakness and harmful peeling. Although some manicurists emphasise the need to wear rubber gloves when washing up to protect the nails, we don’t wear gloves in the shower or for cooking, so I doubt that this is a practical proposition. Anyway, I wore gloves assiduously at Christmas and the nails still started to peel, so I haven’t bothered this time. Zoran also explained to me that constant use of gel nails, tempting as it is to look permanently glossy, deprives fingernails of oxygen and can lock in harmful bacteria. If you think about toenails, they do start to look yellow if they are constantly imprisoned under a layer of even standard nail polish, which is why I always let mine rest for a week (usually longer) before redoing them.

Anyway, I’m happy with my gel manicure so far and will keep you posted about how long it lasts.

Equus charged £50 for a gel manicure and there is also a fee for a soak-off appointment, which does take an hour or so, in my experience, so I’m hoping that my manicure will last until the end of half-term.


*Not a sponsored post*

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