Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Some Final Thoughts

There are so many wonderful nail treatments available now in salons and for home use. In this series we’ve reviewed the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails, and with this post we conclude the series on selecting the best system for your needs, wrapping up with a comparison of some available systems.

When deciding which system is right for you or a client there a few lifestyle aspects to consider, such as how long you like wearing a nail color or design, your preferred nail length, product removal time, or how long the manicure needs to last.natural nail manicure product spectrum

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The graphic above (© Smoke &Mirrors) details what you can expect from the systems we reviewed in the last four posts in terms of wear time.

So, if you love changing your nail color frequently, you’ll probably want to focus on products to the left side of the scale, like traditional or hybrid nail polishes.  On the other hand, if you’re super busy (who isn’t?!?!) and don’t have time for frequent color changes, you may want to try a gel polish or even dip powder nails.SM dip family

The time you’ll spend removing the product also increases as you move right on the scale. Fittingly, the longer the wear time of the product generally, the longer a removal time it will require.  However, if long wear time is your priority, you’ll likely find the increased removal time to be worth it!

So, what are your thoughts on these systems? Do you alternate between systems depending on the season? Does your salon offer all these options? Have you had better results with any particular system? Leave a comment or question below!

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Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Dip Powder Manicure

There are so many fantastic nail treatments available now in salons and for home use. In this series we’ve reviewed the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails. In this post we continue this series on selecting the perfect natural nail manicure system for your lifestyle, examining the latest trend in manicures: the dip powder manicure.

S&M 2 November 2017 D

I love (sarcasm) how people think this is a new thing, when I’ve been doing dip acrylic manicures on my own nails since I was a teenager in the late 90’s. It’s not a new technology, but a revived product, much as gels were in the early 2000’s. And please, please don’t call them “SNS nails”! That’s genericization like “Band-Aid” or “Kleenex” or “Shellac” nails, and all the great brands of dip systems on the market deserve better.

Pet peeves aside, this is one of my favorite techniques. After applying a prep or primer to the natural nail, the tech applies a cyanoacrylate-based resin base coat, then dips the nail into the extra fine acrylic powder. This process is process is repeated once or twice more, then an activator may be used before applying the cyanoacrylate-based top coat. The results:

  • Less filing than traditional acrylic application
  • Thinner than traditional acrylic application
  • Lighter than traditional acrylic application, similar to gels
  • More natural-looking than traditional acrylic application, like gel overlays
  • Stronger than gels, though they are not a flexible
  • Less odor than traditional acrylic application
  • Durable
  • Soak-off like traditional acrylics, though typically faster

And, with dip systems you have options:

  • May be combined with fiberglass nail wraps
  • Easy to repair split or broken nails
  • Polish is optional with colored powders
  • You can use multiple colors of powder for long-lasting nail art

Some things to consider, though:

  • This is not a gel system, and don’t let anyone tell you it is. These systems are straight-up glue and powder. No lamp necessary.
  • Ads might say these last four to six weeks but, trust me, you won’t like the look of your grown out enhancements after two or three weeks.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you this is a natural or chemical-free manicure. While the ingredients aren’t likely to cause an allergic reaction, they do involve chemicals!
  • It’s been said that it’s not sanitary to dip multiple clients in the same powder. I find it very hard to believe that any infectious organisms are going to live for very long in dip powder (as it cannot in nail polish).  However, the pour or sprinkle techniques are the safest for everyone.

Most people I know personally that have worn dip powder nails love and recommend them as much as I do. Dip nails are a great alternative to gel polish. Ready to try for yourself?

Some professional brands to find at the salon are:

  • Gelish Dip – (My personal favorite.) You can choose from 120 colors and counting, S&M naked nails week 6and they match the Gelish gel polish and Morgan Taylor traditional nail polish colors, to cover all your options for manis and pedis!

Some easy-to-find beauty store brands are:

  • Kiara Sky Dip System – With over 140 powder colors, this system is very popular among DIYers and nail bloggers.
  • ASP Quick Dip – 24 lovely colors in this easy-to-use system sold at Sally Beauty.

Second only to gel polish, this is one of my favorite nail products.  What about you? Leave a comment below! Is this your favorite natural nail manicure product?

Sweater nail fail… but a technique win!

S&M 22 December 2017

In preparation for winter solstice I decided it was time to finally try sweater nails. It isn’t too hard, right? Just sprinkle some clear acrylic powder into the uncured gel polish design, then cure…

Nope. This was a fail in my book. I guess you can kinda see the design in the photo, but IRL it just looks like a gray nail.

For this design I used two colors of Gelish: the green sparkly polish is You Crack Me Up from the Little Miss Nutcracker holiday 2017 collection, and the gray creme is Let’s Hit the Bunny Slopes from the winter 2013 The Snow Escape collection.

Before I painted these nails, I trimmed my natural nails and capped them with Gelish Dip in Simple Sheer (not that it matters, because you can’t see it). In the past I’ve had problems with Gelish peeling off of my dipped nails. So this time I did not apply the Dip top coat, but instead just filed to shape and finish buffed. Then I applied Gelish with no Foundation, only Top It Off.

This left the finish a little more rough, and it worked! The Gelish stayed on for about two weeks, no problem. The above photo was taken at about the one week mark.

When I first reviewed Gelish Dip a couple months ago, I got some comments and questions about what to do for this issue and, at the time, I did not know the answer. But now, here it is! I had good results, but please try it and let me know if it works for you, too!

Acrylic Dip Systems: Part 2 – Professional systems

There has been a spate of professional acrylic dip systems released in the last year or so, perhaps due to the sudden increase in client interest and demand.  There’s no question that acrylic dip systems have made a comeback, and received a bit of an update in the process. Years ago, we did not have all these beautiful colors to choose from!

I love this enhancement service and highly recommend trying it if you have not already.  My recommendation for professional users is the Gelish Dip system. Check out my recent results with this system:

S&M 2 November 2017 D

I trimmed my nails a few weeks ago, and used Gelish Dip to protect them as they grew out again.  When I was at the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies over the summer, the Gelish rep suggested that I try using Simple Sheer (instead of the Clear As Day powder I had used previously) for wearing on long natural nails with no polish.  So I finally purchased some and applied it, and I think the results look very natural.

While I recommend Gelish Dip, there are other professional options to hit the market in 2016 and 2017. Recently Nails Magazine Readers voted for their favorite dip system for 2017, and the top three were:

  1. Young Nails SlickPour
  2. Gelish Dip
  3. OPI Powder Perfection

Notice that SNS Nails is not on the list!

Home and pro users can find a couple different options at Sally Beauty:

I haven’t tried any of these except for the Gelish Dip system. If you have, please let me know your thoughts! Also, check out Part 1 of this series, explaining what SNS Nails  really are… and what they aren’t!

 

My, Myself-ie and I

S&M 6 August 2017

As we enter the final weeks of summer 2017, I felt some neon pink nails were in order. This is Gelish Me, Myself-ie and I, from the Selfie collection, with some hand-painted nail art. Some nails are topped with All That Glitters Is Gold from the original Gelish Trends collection. I used black and white acrylic paints, a striping brush and a dotting tool to paint the design. This design was done on enhancements (tips) done with Gelish Dip, and not only do they look pretty good but they’re holding up very well!

Check out how beautifully all the colors work together in this collection:

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Here’s a photo of my entire Gelish Mini Selfie collection. I rarely buy the mini sizes any more, but decided to purchased them in the smaller size for this collection because neons don’t see a lot of use from my current clients.

Selfie Collection

This summer I’m loving the corals and pinks in this collection. What about you? What’s your favorite Selfie color?

Gelish Dip Review – Part 3

S&M 17 July 2017

Above is a photo of my natural nails, which I have been growing out using the Gelish Dip system for 90+ days. The free edge is over 1/2″ long now and they still look healthy!

In my experience with the Gelish Dip system so far I’ve found that it’s lightweight, and easy to apply.  It does have a heavy chemical smell during application, however.  I usually get 2-3 weeks of wear before I do a soak off and new application. I’ve found that I get better results applying a new coat rather than performing a fill, and that’s mostly because the acrylic does yellow a bit over time.

The Gelish Dip has kept my nails so strong that they have not broken in a very long time. Actually, right before this photo was taken I was wiping my kitchen counter and managed to hit my right pinky nail hard enough to break it off. But, otherwise, no issues and they’ve grown so long that I need to trim them! (I sculpted a nail extension on the broken nail.)

Soak off takes about 15-20 minutes using an acetone-soaked cotton ball.  Usually I will remove the first cotton ball and the first layer of product, then reapply a freshly-soaked cotton ball. This seems to speed up the soak-off process, as it allows the acetone to reach all the acrylic.

Have you tried the Gelish Dip system? Do you like it? Or if you haven’t tried it, why not? Let me know in the comments!

Gelish Dip Review – Part 2

S&M 11 April 2017

These are my nails after 10 days with 2 layers of Gelish Dip acrylic on them. As you can see, they’re intact and still a little shiny, even though I put Gelish over the acrylic.  They’re a tiny bit yellowed but held up exceptionally well considering all I put them through – between my workouts and painting at our house, they’ve been thoroughly tested for durability.

The acrylic did not chip at all, but it did lift a little near the cuticle. This could be partially due to user error, however, as I am a little rusty with my dipping technique and applied the Base Coat too close to the cuticle. (See my previous post on how to avoid this issue.) I’ll simply file down the lifted acrylic before performing a fill on my nails.

The Gelish polish (Potts of Tea, from the Beauty and the Beast Collection, over Arctic Freeze) only remains on one nail because I peeled it off all the others. It started to peel after only a couple days without me picking at it. But when it started to peel, I did peel it off and it came off quickly and easily in one or two pieces.  I made the mistake of applying the Gelish polish on the smooth, shiny surface the Gelish Dip Top Coat provides. Next time I’ll buff the surface with a 180-grit buffer to give the Gelish polish a better hold.

As surprising as it was, the Gelish polish soaked off the one nail easily and did not ruin the acrylic underneath. I soaked it for about 10 minutes with a cotton ball on top (not in a bowl of acetone) and the polish came off easily. The acrylic was noticeably softer underneath but it did not come off; I filed and buffed it as usual after a couple minutes.

My final verdict is that this product is a WIN. I’m so glad Gelish took the time to create this product for us! I will definitely continue to use it on my own nails and can now confidently begin offering it to my clients.

Have you tried the Gelish Dip system? What did you think of it?

(Note that I purchased the Gelish Dip system with my own money.  I am not compensated in any way to provide a review of the Gelish Dip products. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.)

Gelish Dip Review – Part 1

I’m loving the Gelish dip system so far.  It’s obvious that Gelish put a lot of work into producing this line, though Polygel is currently getting all the glory.S&M clear dip powder

Note that I purchased the above-pictured system with my own money.  I am not compensated in any way to provide a review of the Gelish dip products. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, based on my personal experience with the product. Thank you to my awesome photographer for the photos.

The system starts with 5 bottles of product, which are:

  • Prep – which is essentially your primer. This is applied after nail plate preparation.prep
  • Base Coat – This is the “sticky” coat, that will adhere the powder to the nail. The first ingredient is cyanoacrylate, and it smells like it (fair warning!)base coat
  • Activator – this is applied on top of the base/powder coats to aid in curing.activator
  • Top Coat – The final step is the top coat which, again, is cyanoacrylate-based. But it is very smooth. Two coats of the Gelish Dip Top Coat will leave you with a smooth, shiny finish, nothing else needed.
    top coat
  • Brush Restorer – if you’ve worked with dip systems in the past you know that this little bottle is a huge helper!  brush restorerThe Base and Top Coat brushes will end up with gummed-up product on the ends of them by the end of each full set.  The brush restorer is a bottle and a lid, no brush. You’ll remove your gummed-up Base Coat or Top Coat lid/brush and put it on this bottle, while putting this lid on your Base Coat or Top Coat bottle for the time being. Leave the brush in this bottle for a couple minutes and then -voila! – it is clean! Wipe the bristles with a clean, lint-free cloth and then switch the lids back to the appropriate bottles. (Don’t leave the lid off the base or top coat bottle, as the product will start to cure in the bottle!)

The other component to the system is the powder.

clear dip powder

I purchased the “Clear As Day” powder because I intend to use my Gelish nail polish on top of it. However, you can buy the powder in over 30 Gelish shades currently, and I’m sure more are forthcoming. Note that I did not purchase buy any of the colored powders, so I am only reviewing the clear powder in this post.

Before I begin offering this service to others I did a set on myself, and here are the results:

S&M 2 April 2017 A

They came out beautifully! I left them just like this for a few days because I was so in love with them just like this (which is odd for me because I am rarely without polish).

The application was easy and fairly quick.  The results are a light yet strong overlay! I can’t say enough good things about the application process. As I mentioned earlier, I did not need to use any additional top coat after applying two coats of the Gelish Dip Top Coat. It was shiny and beautiful and smoothed the entire surface of the nail.

There are just a few things to keep in mind when applying a set of these.

  1. There is an odor to the Base and Top Coat. It smells just like nail glue to me.
  2. When applying the base coat, leave 1/16 inch clear around the eponychium (cuticle) and sidewall areas. The base and top coats are low viscosity and will spread towards the skin quickly. S&M 2 April 2017 BActually, after testing with a few nails, I would recommend leaving a 1/8 inch gap on the first coat and then 1/16 inch gap on the second coat to help feather the transition. I neglected to do this on mine and a few of them have a very big “step” and look quite thick at the cuticle area.
  3. You may notice a slight graininess, or crystal-like appearance, to the acrylic upon close inspection of the finished set. I believe this is normal, and is simply a by-product of the combination of chemicals in the base coat and powder. Here is how mine looked:S&M 2 April 2017 CAnd here is a macro shot of the “crystals”: S&M 2 April 2017 DThis is an effect I have always noticed when working with similar products over the years. Cosmetically, it is hard to see, so the nails are still very beautiful.  Structurally, it does not seem to make a difference. I’ve always had great application and wear results with this type of system, even with this effect in the acrylic.

So, the initial verdict on the Gelish Dip system – is it worth it? Yes! You get a lot of product for the price, application is easy and looks great, and the wear time seems good so far.  This is a product from a trusted brand in the nail industry, so you know they’ve done the R&D when creating this system. I think clients will love this product.

In my next post I’ll be discussing the wear time for the Gelish Dip system, as well as my results in using it with Gelish Gel Polish.

Gelish DIP has finally arrived!

Last Thursday I ordered my Gelish DIP system, and it arrived in the mail yesterday.

SM dip family I’m so excited that Gelish has developed this system. As I mentioned in a previous post, the dip method is how I first “dipped” my figurative toes into the pond acrylic enhancements. Dipping was popular in the 90’s and I’m really happy to see this technique come back around.  Stay tuned for a full review!