There are so many amazing nail treatments available now! In this series we’ll review the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails on the market today. Here we continue our series on selecting the perfect natural nail manicure system for your needs, exploring the pros and cons of gel nail polish.
Gel Nail Polish
But first – did you know that gel nail enhancements have been around since the 1980’s, but just didn’t have the break out success back then that they were in the early 2000’s?
“At the time, the manufacturers of gel lights and the gel itself had not joined forces, not yet recognizing the need to precisely match the intensity of the light to the photoinitiators in the gel… using the wrong light or applying too much gel caused a burning sensation on the client’s fingertips. Additionally, education on gel application was limited, leaving nail techs in the dark about the product, and home-use systems were introduced around the same time, damaging the reputation of salon-use systems by association. By the end of the ‘80s, many companies had pulled their gel products from the market.”
Then, in the late 1990’s and early 2000s, the gels that we think of today, with improved formulas over what was available in the previous decade, began to emerge. About 20 years later, it’s hard to imagine a nail services menu without gel services on the list. According to the 2018-2019 Nail Big Book, 90% of salons responding to the survey offered gel polish services. The only other service offered as frequently among respondents was manicuring, also at 90%.
Some of my most enjoyable moments as a nail tech have come from seeing the amazement on clients’ faces when they pull their hands out of the lamp for the first time, and I begin wiping the inhibition layer from their fully cured gel polish manicure. With big eyes, they usually ask something like “Are they already dry?” and I tell them that they are free to do whatever they need to do. They can hardly believe that it’s OK to reach for their keys and walk out of the salon without sitting for awhile to let their manicure finish drying.
Besides this revolutionary speed in finishing a manicure, I love how long gel polish stays on clients’ nails. Even clients who are really hard on their hands typically get more than a week out of their manicure. Personally, my nails have grown out to the point that it’s bothersome before my nails begin to chip or peel.
Unfortunately, gel polish’s greatest strengths are also a cause for it’s greatest weakness (in some clients’ eyes): the soak off process for removal. And, since it takes so long to remove, clients who get tired of their polish color in less than a week might find the wear time and soak-off to be a negative.
While gel polish might not be for everyone, it certainly fills a need for many people. Ready to try for yourself?
Some professional brands to find in the salon are:
- Gelish – If you’re a regular reader, you already know I highly recommend Gelish brand products. I’ve been using these products in the salon and personally for almost a decade now with nearly flawless results.
- OPI Gel Color – Many techs love this gel polish from a trusted brand.
- CND Shellac – this may be the quintessential gel polish now due to genericization, though gel polish should be called by the correct name and brand used should be obvious to clients. Using inferior products can lead to service breakdown and, if it happens frequently enough, a downgrading of the professional service.
Easy-to-find beauty store brands are:
- Gelish Mini – the same great formula as the full-size Gelish, but in smaller amounts for personal use (fewer manicures)
- China Glaze Gelaze – to make things even easier, this brand requires no base coat; only top coat.
- FingerPaints – this is the Sally Beauty house brand, and has been around for several years.
You can also find one-step, no-cleanse gel polishes (no base or top coats required), and the latest development in gel polish systems – peelable base coat. I can’t vouch for any of these products personally yet, though I would be willing to test them out:
- Gelish UNO – By Gelish MINI, this is a is a DIY, instant manicure. Brush on polish and cure – no basecoat, topcoat or cleansing is required.
- Maniology Peelable Gel Base Coat – intended to be a temporary, peel-off coating for natural nails, to be painted on and removed easily later.
I personally love gel polish. It’s one of the greatest inventions ever, in my opinion. What about you? Leave a comment below! Is this your favorite natural nail manicure product?