So as you may have gathered already, I love my nail polishes. In fact I have two boxes of them, in all colours and brands.
But one of my major peeves is that inevitably, you can only go 2 days or so before, at best, they need a retouch and at worst it’s start all over again. I’m busy! I don’t want to be doing my nails every other night! But chipped nails just look naff.
So of course, this new rage for gel nails seemed right up my street, except I wasn’t going to fork out £20+ every week or two and god knows how long in a salon to get them. My dad’s girlfriend Gail has been having them for ages but then she has a salonist friend, so…
Also, I already have a large collection of nail polishes, and I didn’t want to leave them languishing or fork out more for a whole new set of special ‘gel’ polishes.
Luckily, my old friend eBay came up trumps, and I nabbed a UV light box AND a clear Gel polish (Nailene) with solvent cleanser (more on that later) for less than the price of one salon gel manicure.
So for my first test, I went for Kiko Mint Milk, which is not a very well wearing polish normally, with a gel top coat. This is after my usual cuticle tidying and base coat of Nail Rescue.
It lasted four days before I felt like it had to come off, and chipped much less. However, I think a lot of this is in the technique and the normal polish you use underneath. My second attempt has been with a Nails Inc polish that is better wearing, and also faster drying. I read that it can take 24 hours for a normal nail polish to truly dry out, and if you gel top coat you basically seal in the solvents and it won’t properly dry.
Also, you have to be really precise with the gel polish. It will only adhere to your nail (that’s a good thing!) but it does mean that if you overrun, then set it, you end up with a hard edge protruding from the nail which you can easily catch and peel off a chunk of the polish. You also need to be quite firm in sealing along the front edge of the nail, otherwise this is where the normal polish will wear back.
Finally, at first I thought my UV lamp was dodgy because you’re only supposed to set the nail for 1-2 minutes, but it was still tacky. Can’t be right, I thought, so I turned to the internet. Turns out that was what the cleanser sold with my gel polish was for, with some little lint-free wipes – the tacky layer is normal and you clean it off with this to leave a shiny, hard gel surface.
Overall I’m really impressed with my little do-it-at-home kit and will definitely be perservering with the gel top-coat theory!