Don’t be gel-ous of my red nails!
I am always looking for a polish that will adhere longer than two days without chipping. I am an avid hand-washer especially during the winter months, so I always see tip-wear on day two. I love the look of a salon gel manicure on my friends but I can’t abide by the price, and I worry about how the process will weaken my nails.
When I saw a Sally Hansen Salon Insta Gel Strips Gel Manicure Kit on sale at Duane Reade (owned by Walgreens) for $7.99, marked down from $31.99, I had to finally give gels a try.
The initial results were great! Look at that gorgeous red called Red My Lips and that lovely glossy shine!
The process was tedious, but I did it during the last two episodes of Season 5 of Justified, so I was in self-pampering heaven. I love watching TV to unwind, and I love painting my nails to unwind. I like to be able to take my time during a manicure.
The process for applying the strips is to remove all polish with acetone, file and buff your nail with the provided pink, double-sided buffer, and then push back cuticles with the provided orange stick.
Wipe the nail bed clean with the provided alcohol pad, apply the strip, tuck in the ends on the sides and over the tip with the orange stick, and file off the loose edges with the buffer.
Still with me? Paint a layer of the provided gel top coat and heat the nail for thirty seconds under the provided UV lamp. Wipe the nail with another alcohol pad to clean off any stickiness and you’re done! Now it’s time to do the NEXT nail….
The UV lamp has a cord that plugs into an outlet and does not run on batteries so you don’t have to worry about it conking out on you. It is also small and travels easily. The gel top coat and UV lamp can be applied over any nail polish to make any mani last longer. But let’s talk about this lasting-power.
After a mere six hours I had a chip on the middle finger. I had an extra strip so I removed the whole nail color (five agonizingly long minutes of a remover-soaked cotton ball wrapped in foil around the finger followed by vigorous rubbing and a little peeling with the orange stick). As soon as that finger was back to new, after two hand washings and a shower my first finger and thumb were chipping!
Instead of using strips again, I started plugging holes with a matching red nail polish (Essie Twin Sweater Set) and coated with the gel and popped under the lamp. After two days of watching my nails cautiously and patching up blemishes I admitted to myself that this was no better than a regular polish. More labor-intensive actually!
I took it back and got my money back. Maybe my kit was just old. The reason I didn’t save the gel and UV lamp was because by the third patch-up job my finger started to get uncomfortably warm under the lamp. Was it burning me? Was my nail bed becoming sensitive? The whole thing made me nervous. In the age of skin cancer awareness I decided to just skip it altogether.