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!

 

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Don’t Break My Corazon

S&M 12 November 2017

This design was done with two coats of Gelish Don’t Break My Corazón from the Fall 2017 Matadora collection. This is a stunning red in person, and it is the type of red that goes with everything.

On the middle nails I taped off the inner section before applying the Don’t Break My Corazón. After the polish cured I removed the tape and glued on some 3D net embellishments from Born Pretty Store. This stuff is basically a lot of strings all laid in a random pattern and glue together. It comes to you in a small sheet, and you can cut a strip whatever size you need from it.  It is a flat sheet of it, however, and only slightly flexible. And it is not self-adhesive, so I used nail glue to adhere it to the curves of my nail. It stayed on very well, and I had to soak it off with acetone when it was time for removal.

I’m not sure if this design is really my style, but the product worked well and I got a lot of questions and compliments on it!

Review: Gelish PolyGel

S&M 31 August 2017

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been doing some product testing with Gelish® PolyGel™. (Of course I have to thoroughly test it on myself before recommending it to others.) This is a photo of my nails enhanced with clear PolyGel and then polished with one coat of Gelish Tickle My Heart (which Gelish is, unfortunately, no longer manufacturing).

I was going for a simple, neutral design with this set, but couldn’t resist a polish with a bit of glitter! You can see that I used the PolyGel to extend the nails, basically doubling the length of my free edge.

After using and wearing PolyGel for about 3 weeks now, I am happy to report that it is as user-friendly and easy to apply as they say. I had watched a few videos on the application of this product, yet I was still blown away by how easy it is to work with. It’s really something you have to experience for yourself!

PolyGel enhancements also sit on the nail very comfortably – it’s light and feels natural on my nail and fingers. This is in contrast to acrylics, which I have trouble getting used to… acrylic on my nail always feels like an enhancement to me.

I’ve applied both Gelish gel polish and regular polish to my nail with no issues, and experienced great wear time. As far as wear and tear, the PolyGel has held up very well. The only minor issue I’ve noticed is that the corners of my square nails are now rounded, especially the nail of the middle finger on my right hand. I believe this is due to the softness of PolyGel as compared to acrylic or even hard gel. But after ~3 weeks of wear, that isn’t too bad! I have experienced very little lifting – much less than I usually do with acrylic or even hard gel.

Some tips for working with PolyGel:

  • Pour the slip solution onto your PolyTool over the dappen dish, with the brush-side down. The Polytool will guide the slip solution liquid into the dish, and at the same time your are priming your brush with slip solution.
  • Slice off only a small amount of PolyGel. You can always add more product.
  • You don’t need a lot of Slip Solution on the brush. Be sure it’s not dripping, only saturating the bristles.
  • If the PolyGel starts to feel gummy or tacky under your brush as you are working with it on the nail, then you’ll know it’s time to put some more slip solution on the brush.
  • PolyGel is great for techs who prefer to hand file because it files so easily and quickly. Use a fine bit and a low speed if e-filing!
  • I recommend starting with the trial kit and PolyTool because that’s everything you need to get squeezing, slicing, and rolling with PolyGel. Once you get a feel for the product, you can add always buy other colors or brushes and tools to your arsenal.

Have you tried PolyGel yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this product!

Review: Probelle Hydrating Top Coat

S&M Probelle hydrating topcoat

Probelle sent me this Hydrating Base Coat to try about a month ago, and I’ve used it on myself and one client so far. I always test products on myself before using it on a client, as I can’t wholeheartedly sell a service or product to a client without having a good experience with it myself. As always, the opinions shared in this post are my own. (My reviews are based my honest assessment of the products, and this blog’s content is not pre-approved by any PR representatives or brands.)

I applied it to my nails twice after removing acrylic enhancements. My nails were a bit rough, and I didn’t have time to do much with them. It was quick and easy to put on a layer of this clear polish, and I actually applied it two days in a row. It’s a very thin, clear coat. You can’t feel it on the nail, and there is no unpleasant smell to this product. It leaves a nice, natural sheen on the nail. The only negative comment I have about the application is that the brush was small and the bristles spread out unevenly.  Some of the bristles were wonky and stuck out to the sides, which made it difficult to control the product.

The client on whom I used this product on was recovering from poor product application then removal done by another nail tech. She had deep rings of fire, and her nails were peeling and breaking.  At the time of booking, she requested gel removal and a manicure with a “moisturizing treatment”.  After removing old product and prepping her nails, I applied one coat of this Probelle Hydrating Base Coat before proceeding with a regular manicure. I advised the client to use plenty of cuticle oil and lotion over the coming days.

Bottom line: This product is OK, but I haven’t been impressed enough through my experiences with it to purchase more Probelle products.  If I had more clients who requested natural nail manicures or products, I might be more likely to test the entire Probelle line of products and compare them to other major brands in order to decide which line to use at the salon.

Remember that nails don’t breathe or absorb nutrients, so we need to encourage healthy nail growth from the inside out by eating right, exercising, drinking plenty of water, and taking a supplement (as advised by a doctor). But if a client requests a treatment like this after enhancement removal, there are various protective products that techs can apply while giving the nails time to grow out.

Most nail product companies market some type of recovery treatment and, although we know that these products do not put nutrients into the nail, the added vitamins typically won’t do any harm and may give the client peace of mind. Frankly, I think these products are mostly a marketing scheme, but most companies likely make the decision to create and sell them in order to remain competitive in our industry. In the end it is up to the individual nail tech and client on if and how they are used.

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!

Do nails need to “breathe”?

There has been much discussion lately on the subject of nails “taking a break” or “breathing”.  Are we smothering our nails with enhancements and polish? ‘Natural nails’ are very popular right now, and that begs the question of whether or not natural is the best or healthiest way to go. To answer this question, let’s take a quick look at the anatomy of the nail and our biology at work!

nail-anatomy1

Image Credit: AAPC

First, we need to know a bit about how nails grow. According to Doug Schoon -who is probably the foremost scientist and researcher of all things nails and nail enhancements, and nail-industry educator – they grow from the nail matrix. The matrix produces these nail plate cells in rows, front to back, and many of these rows lay side-by-side to form the nail plate.  ” Each row of newly made nail plate cells is slowly pushed upward and slightly forward by rows of even newer nail cells created from below, which are also being pushing upward as they are made by the matrix.” Therefore, the shape, curvature, width and thickness of the nail plate are all controlled by the matrix below.

It’s important to note that all the blood and nutrients are provided to the matrix from within, via the circulatory system of the body. The better your circulation, the more nutrients that will come from your blood, and the faster your nails grow. Efficient circulation explains why our nails grow faster in the summertime and when we are younger.

Second, fingernails and toenails, as well as hair and your top layer of skin, are made of layers of keratin.  As your fingernails grow upwards and forwards, the cells actually die. This, of course, is why it doesn’t hurt to get a haircut or to trim and file the free edge or your nail.

Finally, it is believed that only water and oils with smaller molecules will penetrate the layers of nail keratin. Similarly, there is debate about what or how much can be absorbed through the skin, though we do have some research showing that skin health might be enhanced by topical application of micronutrients to the skin.

By putting this all together – that 1) the nail grows upwards and forwards, 2) blood and nutrients are provided to the matrix by your circulating blood, and 3) the rows of keratin cells are dead – we can draw some conclusions:

  • You cannot “revive” dead nail cells by applying products.  However, if you apply a carrier oil with certain micronutrients to the nails and surrounding skin, some micronutrients may penetrate to the matrix and epidermis, thus improving general nail health. This is the idea behind cuticle oils. Additionally, some oils provide a protective layer that assists the epidermis in retaining moisture already in the skin.
  • Applying or manipulating products on the upper layers of keratin, which are simply dead cells, may break them down or wear them away over time. This is why your nails seem to be “damaged” by nail products.
    • Additionally, some chemicals, such as acetone, remove moisture from the top nail or skin layers, resulting in the dehydrated, “dry” nail or cuticle.
    • Properly applied and removed nail enhancements will not damage your nails.
  • Internal factors including aging, hormones, stress, and medications, and wear and tear on nails and the surrounding skin, external factors, can both affect your nails’ appearance. Therefore, proper nutrition is essential for maintaining healthy nails (and overall health!).

In short, nails do not need to breathe.  “One hundred percent of the oxygen needed by the nail matrix to create a new nail plate comes from the bloodstream, and zero percent comes from the outside world,” according to Doug Schoon. “Nothing is gained by removing artificial nail enhancements or coatings for a few months before reapplying them.”

However, taking a break from nail products will allow time for new nails cells to grow upwards and forwards and, therefore, they will appear healthier after a few weeks of going bare. This is especially true if you apply oils daily and wear gloves when cleaning, gardening, etc.

If you are not used to going bare for so long, and would like a thin coat of polish to create a shiny yet natural-looking nail, there are many products from companies like GelishOPI, Orly and Zoya that you can try. Just keep in mind that calling these polishes “breathable” is more of a marketing term than any health claim.

I have used Strength VitaGel by Gelish when taking a few days off from gel polish (usually because I just didn’t have time to do anything fancy).  For me it didn’t last as long as Gelish gel polish… only a couple days really. This should be considered a “treatment”, and I don’t recommend applying Gelish gel polish over it (though you can if you want).gelish_bottle_2013-shaded-vitagel-wreflection-both-crop-u17069

Image Credit: Nail Harmony Australia

In the end, if you like the product, I say go for it! Don’t stress over the marketing jargon if you love the look or application of a treatment. You are an informed consumer who knows that nails don’t actually breathe!

 

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.)

Rocking My Stocking

sm-24-january-2017

This is Gelish Rocking My Stocking, of course, from the Wrapped In Glamour collection. I used a light gray from Apple Barrel Paints to hand paint the stripes and dots.

As usual, I loved this Gelish collection when I bought it, and love it even more now that I’ve experimented with the colors. Just a beautiful collection, and it holds up even past the holidays… I can totally see a client requesting this color for Valentine’s Day.

Let’s Get Frosty!

sm-31-december-2016

 

Happy new year!

This is Gelish Let’s Get Frosty over Nailite’s UV gel polish called Sand (which I believe is a retired color).  I used ASP Form-a-Nail nail forms to add a protective layer to my natural nails using Nailite’s Sand, then applied 3 coats of Let’s Get Frosty.  (Note that Let’s Get Frosty is more silver than you see in the photo above; applying it over the colored gel altered the final shade a bit.)

The photo was taken after about a week, so you can see how well these held up. I was really happy with these; I kept them on for about a week and a half, and the only reason I re-did them is that I wanted to have time to do a new set before I go back to work in the new year.

I love my Gelish! What about you? Are you wearing any colors from the Gelish winter or Holiday collections?

Perfect Landing!

sm-15-october-2016

This design was done with the color Perfect Landing by Gelish, from the Fall 2016 Sweetheart Squadron collection.  I stamped the nail art using Fingerpaints Still Life – Is Good! and Born Pretty stamping plate BP-L 003 for the background, then Fingerpaints Calligraphic Calico and stamping plate BP-L 008 for the leaves on top.

Note that this design is over a week old: a testament to how well Gelish stands up to everyday life. Over the week plus that I had this manicure, I did all my normal daily housework as well as some painting on the outside of my house. In the end, the only reason I wanted to take it off was the growth at the cuticle, which is visible in this photo.

So far I’ve used three of the six colors from this collection and they’re all beautiful. What do you think? Have you used any of the colors from this collection?