Gel Polish in 2019!
This is by far my most popular article on my blog! I wrote this article back in 2011 not too long after I had been licensed as a new nail technician. Times were so different in so many ways. Shellac was the first gel polish I bought and it was a game changer for me! I started researching like crazy and found Axxium by OPI and Gelish, which wasn’t available locally yet. Instagram hadn’t come out yet, so beauty products were only discoverable through trade shows, internet research, or industry magazines and publications.
The nail industry has seriously EXPLODED since I became licensed, and I honestly think the largest contributor has been Instagram. If you are a licensed technician, I’d love to hear your take on the growth and evolution of the nail industry!
Check out this “vintage” article I wrote and let me know if you have any questions! I used to be scared to death about giving out tips to un-licensed readers but that’s another aspect that has changed so much. Product is readily available to anyone who wants to pay for it. And if you want to do your own nails, I’d rather you do them correctly. So ask away! 🙂
I am inspired to write this article because it seems like all I do lately is gel polish. AND, I had a customer this week that really got the wheels spinning. She was in town visiting from Houston, Texas and it was VERY interesting to see how my technique varied from her nail tech at home. I included some pictures of my clients from yesterday too because everyone’s nails turned out so pretty!
So, let’s get it started!
Gel polishes are all the rage right now for a good reason. They dry instantly, last at least a good two weeks, and are relatively easy on and off. Axxium by OPI has been out for several years and is a great product, but the newer products are more like a nail polish that brush on easily, whereas with the Axxium the product is in a pot and you apply it with a gel brush, just as you do a full set of gel nails.
So Shellac by Creative Nail Design came out about five or six months ago and I rushed out to by the full kit as soon as possible. It was a hit right from the get go. I am not certain if Shellac was the first of it’s kind, but I do know that there are many varieties to choose from. I should say as well that Shellac is not technically called a “gel” polish. Creative Nail Design (CND) calls it a hybrid nail polish. The other brands, such as Gelish by Nail Harmony, Gelac by IBD, and Gelez by EZ Flow, do actually call themselves “gel” polishes. I cannot clarify what the difference is nor do I really want to get into that kind of detail because in my opinion, for the most part, they are all the same 🙂
My favorite brand that I have used so far is Gelish by Nail Harmony. I think it may have actually come out before Shellac did, but without the marketing power of CND, it was a softer introduction. Gelish actually advertises a THREE week manicure, not a two week like Shellac. I believe it is a little more durable-the base coat seems to be very similar to actual builder gel products I use. Gelish offers almost a hundred colors as well! Shellac only offers 12 at the moment, with 12 more coming out in March. I do not currently own all the colors from Gelish because my husband would divorce me if I spent that much money on nail supplies (they are not cheap!) but I am building up my collection. I am trying to stick to one brand, but I have mixed all the brands in one application, and they turn out beautifully. Julie’s french manicure above is Gelish base and top coats, Shellac Negligee color, and Axxium Alpine Snow white on the tips. Gelish doe advertise that you can use ANY other system with their system and it will work! Another ten points for Gelish!
Another AMAZING quality about the gel polishes are that they seem to really help with nail growth. Companies do not market them in this direction, but take my client Julie for example. Her nails are featured in two photos above-the three week Shellac photo and the new French Manicure photo. She has absolutely gorgeous nails right? Well, when she came to me, they were all broken down really short and she could not get them to grow. These photos are her third and fourth application of gel polish, and look at them now! And Julie is not a pampered princess who never uses her hands-she is a hair stylist and a full time mom who I am sure is ALWAYS on the go! I have MANY clients who have long, beautiful nails now due to the gel polishes. I should say that the gel polish will not keep your nails from breaking, but they do strengthen them significantly.
So now how do you change your gel polish after a few weeks of wear? Well, if you want another new set of gel polish, I would recommend seeing a professional nail technician who will soak it off with acetone. Do not ever let anyone file or drill it off entirely!!!!! This could potentially damage your nail bed. I always rough it up with a soft file, and my client from Texas last week said she remembers them using the electric file to rough it up, but just make sure they don’t keep going. After I have roughed it up (to break the top coat) I soak a cotton ball in acetone and wrap it over the polish with a piece of aluminum foil. Then it will sit for 10 minutes. After it has “processed”, the nail tech should scrape it off GENTLY with a cuticle pusher. Make sure he or she does not peel it off with force as this could damage your nail bed. After the product is removed and the nail bed is prepped, you would then receive a new application of gel polish!
I charge $20 for the gel polish by itself and $30 with a manicure. I recently had a client that was surprised there was an option, but I have found a lot of people only want the polish, they don’t want the full manicure which includes an additional sugar scrub, deluxe cuticle treatment, and massage. I can do a NEW set of gel polish in about a half hour. If it is with removal, it takes anywhere from 45-60 minutes for just the gel polish, and then with a manicure it would take between an hour to an hour and a half.
I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear from anyone on their opinion of the gel polish craze! I am passionate about my industry and love learning as much as possible from the consumer as well as the producer! 🙂
I did a new post about all the products you need to get started on gel polish…click on the picture below to check it out!
And HERE’S an updated article I wrote a few years after this article about all the different brands and what brand is best for your nail type!
I hope everyone has a beautiful Martin Luther King weekend–it has been absolutely gorgeous here in sunny St. George! I forgot about the holiday and should have worked this weekend because the salon was hopping with everyone down to enjoy our sunshine! But I am going to hang out with my sisters and let my little boy play with all his cousins and have a wonderful weekend! Crossfit tomorrow morning is going to be a blast–I highly recommend it!