Confession: I am horrible at doing my own nails. While I’ve always blamed “not being ambidextrous” as the reason that, when I DO attempt at-home manicures, my right hand’s nails always look like a toddler in a moving car painted them, the truth is I simply lack the patience for clipping my own cuticles and then gingerly going over each nail to so that the polish is perfectly even, smooth and salon-like. So, budget allowing, I get all Real Housewives-ey with that stuff and hit up the salon. I’m also a huge sucker for a good forearm/hand massage.
Another confession: while I like the IDEA of nail art and keeping up with the digital trends, I don’t do it so much in practice. There are a plethora of reasons why: bejeweled nails can be super-distracting when you’re holding a mic; they become inadvertent weapons (I’ve seen some that could actually be classified as “talons”); it can cost major $$. The list goes on. With that said, do not be surprised to one day see a close-up of an all Hello Kitty-inspired manicure on this blog. I’d still try it.
In the name of trying out nail trends and also out of professional obligation, I opted for a gel manicure a few months ago since the producers for a shoot I was doing requested my nails be done in a neutral color in case they had to go close-up on my hands. A few friends had raved about going chip-free for weeks with gels, and for the price, it was - in theory - like getting two regular manicures for the price of one that lasts twice as long. Not one to risk chipping a nail right before my close-up (“…Mr. DeMille”), I got one in a soft off-white hue.
Here’s what I loved: as promised, the gels lasted for weeks, even beyond the two weeks the nail tech had promised. It really lasted until my nails started growing to a length that just looked weird with half of them hanging onto this indestructible manicure and the other half looking like normal grown-out nails. Perhaps it’s because I grew up playing the piano, but I also hate long nails. It’s still beyond me why any woman would get acrylics in this day and age if she is NOT working in the adult entertainment industry.
I really liked that I could dig around the depths of my black-hole-of-a-purse and not have half my hand resurface, chipped up and busted. It was a perfectly lovely experience overall and I was in and out of the salon in what seemed like half the time of a regular manicure (complete with hand massage!).
And I haven’t gotten a gel manicure since. Why? Because when I finally decided that the half-mani look just wasn’t cutting it anymore and headed back into the salon to have it removed, which requires bathing your nails in acetone and getting the polish scraped off, some not-so-awesome things happened. The combined acetone-and-scraping process left my nails covered in lovely (not lovely) hash marks and for weeks after, I noticed my nails had weakened and would break and split. A busted, chipping manicure is one thing but broken, split nails are not just unsightly - they’re painful! Recent studies also indicate that the UV light used to set gel manis increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer, similar to the consequences of prolonged use of tanning beds. Dislike.
Would I ever try a gel mani again? I’m not sure. Going chip-free was great but I’ve also found that it’s pretty easy to maintain a regular manicure, especially if you own the polish (I usually bring my own polish anyway). If ever I do decide to gel again, I think I’ll keep the sunscreen handy. And the nailclippers.