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? Hybrid Nail Polish

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There are so many amazing nail treatments out there! 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, looking at “hybrid” nail polish.

Hybrid Nail Polish

Hybrid nail polish is also called long-lasting or long-wear nail polish, and it attempts “borrow some of the best qualities from both gel and lacquer without needing to be cured” .  It seems the goal in developing hybrid polish was to create a polish that would last as long as UV-cured gel polishes, but applies easily and could be removed as quickly as traditional nail polish. Some brands take this a step further by incorporating oligomers into their top coats that cure in ambient UV light, and become harder over the course of a day or so.

Hybrid polishes were introduced a few years ago, after the gel polish craze evened out, and seem to have been going steady ever since. Like traditional polish, they’re easy to apply in the salon or at home. Some brands make it even easier by requiring no base coat for their systems. However, it’s important to use the correct base (if required) and top coat for the system to achieve the result for these polishes.

Image from Amazon.com

 

Ready to try for yourself?

Some professional brands are:

 

 

Image from Amazon.com

 

Easy-to-find drug and beauty store brands are:

 

 

 

 

I tested the Sally Hansen brand earlier this year. Here’s one of my manis with a color called Shock Wave.

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From my perspective, these hybrid polishes felt like a wannabe gel polish – they fell short on delivering on their promises and, overall, my experience with these was a non-starter.  Leave a comment below with your experience! Is this your go-to natural nail product?

Salon Manicure Choices – What’s the Difference? Traditional Nail Polish

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On this blog I post a lot about gel polish and occasionally about traditional polish, but did you know there are other systems available that may meet your natural nails manicure needs and fit your lifestyle? There’s also the latest craze – dipped nails, which isn’t nail polish like we usually think about it.  There are so many amazing treatments out there! In this series we’ll review the professional manicure systems for use on natural nails in the market today.

Traditional Nail Polish

Traditional nail polish is also sometimes called lacquer. This is the system that most people are familiar with, as it has been around for decades, can be found at most department or drug stores, and is easy to apply (but surprisingly difficult to apply well).

Image from Amazon.com

 

The technology that traditional nail polish uses typically includes nitrocellulose, film-forming agents, resins, solvents, and, of course, colorants. Professional systems usually include at least a base and top coat formulated to work with their lacquer colors, as well as other nail treatments such as strengtheners, finishers and drying agents.
One of the most-trusted (and my personal favorite) traditional polish brands is OPI. I also recommend Morgan Taylor.

Is traditional nail polish for you?

If you enjoy self-care time for getting weekly nail services and love trying new, on-trend colors, then traditional polish might be perfect for you. Traditional polish is a quick treatment that is perfect for combining with other pampering salon services.

Is this your polish of choice? What do you love about it? Leave us a comment!

Summer Purples and Holo Success!

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Using Gelish One Piece or Two? (from the new Make a Splash collection) and Tahiti Hottie (from the summer 2014 Colors of Paradise collection), this is my take on trendy mis-match nails. The beautiful holo nail is OPI Chrome Effects in Mixed Metals. Here’s a macro shot of the holo nail:

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As you can see, the Chrome Effects powder worked really well. I had no trouble using it with Gelish Top It Off (rather than the suggested OPI top coat). In sunlight or interior light, these nails look great!

I was so happy to find the Chrome Effects line because the other products I’d tried have not performed very well for me – either I had application issues or they didn’t wear well. And, unfortunately, Gelish does not make a product like this.  Have you tried Chrome Effects? What did you think of it?

Nail Tech Event of the Smokies 2017 Wrap-Up

As you read previously, Smoke & Mirrors attended the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies earlier in July. Here’s the wrap-up!

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The Nail Tech Event of the Smokies is held every summer in the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Gatlinburg, if you have never visited, is the play place of the south. It has every activity imaginable – from whitewater rafting and ziplining to shopping and spas, and all kinds of tourist attractions.  Although I have lived in the southeast for most of my life this was my first time visiting, and I was blown away.  If you come to this show there is no shortage of activities for you to choose from outside of show hours.

The convention center itself is small but well-kept and clean. It was hot outside but the temperature inside the venue was comfortable. There were friendly show coordinators stationed just inside the doors, ready to answer questions about the venue, show schedule or classes.

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Billed as a three-day show, this is primarily a one-day show with an early check-in day before, and a workshop/classes day after. (Unfortunately no Continuing-education credits are given for any of the classes.)  I arrived on Saturday for early check-in and ready to begin shopping, only to find that Saturday was vendor setup day. The only thing you can do at the show on Saturday is choose from a couple early workshops or check-in. So I checked-in and went back out into Gatlinburg for some sight-seeing fun.

During check-in we received a nice gift from Nail Art Elegance.com, whom I had never heard of before that day. They carry a great selection of “Nail Charms, Decals, Flatback Swarovski Elements and Rhinestones, Glitters” on their website, at great prices! And, Rock Bottom Soap Company provided a trial size of their Lavender Body Polish, which smelled great! Rock Bottom Soap sells hand-made goat milk soap in London, Kentucky.

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On Sunday, the show floor was packed! Every major nail product company had a booth, and some re-sellers and consultants were there, too. They all had representatives available to discuss and sell product, and some were doing product demos on show guests.

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I stopped by the Gelish booth to pick up some of the products from my wish list and was disappointed to find that they were not doing Polygel demos (they were too busy selling product to a line of customers). The booth attendant explained that they would later, as time allowed.

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Here’s that I bought at the Gelish booth:

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Check the Smoke & Mirrors YouTube channel later for an unboxing video for the PolyGel Trial Kit. It was my understanding that show vendors usually sell their product below MSRP, but the items I bought were pretty much full price. I paid MSRP for the PolyGel kit, and the Gelish was $13 per bottle. All of my items were wrapped in a nice reusable plastic bag with the Morgan Taylor logo on one side, and Gelish logo on the other.

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I also stopped by the OPI booth and picked up some fun items:

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Actually, I didn’t even buy the bottle of nail polish. The booth attendant just handed it to me. I bought the t-shirt to wear at the salon, and it has been a great conversation-starter so far!

On Monday I wasn’t scheduled for any classes, so we went home on Sunday night. All-in -all, it was a good but tiresome weekend.  If you are looking for a NAILS ONLY show that is more intimate than the larger beauty shows, NTES is the one for you. The venue was just right for this show, and you can have a great time in the Gatlinburg area. Also, be sure to check the workshop schedule because I’m sure they have some useful classes that can help build your career.

I’m so glad I went, but I’m not sure when or if I’ll go back. I was looking to stock up on some supplies at below MSRP, and I didn’t really get to do that. I also would rather visit Gatlinburg when it not high season – too hot and too many people there in July! I actually felt bad for a couple of the vendor reps at the show because they were clearly exhausted from a week at another beauty show out west, and had flown straight in to work NTES. Too bad NTES couldn’t be held at least a couple weeks before or after the other show.

Have you ever attended the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies? Are you thinking of going next year? I tried to give a feel for the show in this post, with some things I wish someone had told me before I went. If you have any questions or comments about the show, please leave a comment!

 

Geometric French

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1 coat of OPI Pink of Hearts with 1 coat of China Glaze White on White + striping tape

 

 

Wear test – Gelish Top it off vs. RNP top coat

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In response to a co-worker’s question about 1) using gel top coat on RNP and 2) the wear time of that vs. RNP top coat, I conducted a wear test on these products for one week.  Here are the results, and they’re pretty much what you would have expected…

Products:

On my right hand (left hand in the above pic)-

  • Beauty Secrets base coat (Sally Beauty Brand)
  • OPI “You’re A Doll” on pink, ring and pointer fingers, stamped (I can’t remember what I used to stamp)
  • OPI “Brand New Skates” on the middle finger
  • Kiss Colors “Soft Gray” topped with China Glaze “Haute Metal” on the thumbs
  • Gelish Top it Off

On my left hand-

Method:

I gave myself a manicure with RNP per the above and allowed it to dry overnight.  Approximately 10-12 hours after the manicure I applied RNP top coat to the nails on my left hand and gel top coat to the right. As you can see, I experienced no crinkling or warping of the RNP under the gel top coat.  I believe application was successful because I allowed the RNP to cure sufficiently before applying gel top coat. I did not do any maintenance to the manicure for 1 week. Note that, early on in the week, I had an unfortunate run-in with a Tupperware container and bent but did not break the pointer and middle finger nails on the right hand. This caused some chipping on the right middle fingernail that otherwise would not have been so pronounced.  Also, I broke the Tupperware container lid!

Results:

As you can see, wear was slightly worse on the nail tips on my right hand, though there was tip wear on both hands. This was to be expected since I am right-handed.  Overall both manicures were durable with minimal tip wear for the 7 day test period.  Gel top coat appears to have performed only slightly better than regular top coat would over RNP.

Final thoughts:

To answer the questions posed at the beginning of this post: 1) Yes, you can apply gel top coat over and RNP manicure, provided that you allow the RNP to cure for several hours first. 2) Gel top coat performed slightly better than regular top coat did (especially if you take into consideration the Tupperware container incident). Gel top coat is also more flexible than RNP top coat.  I wonder if the chipping caused by the incident would have been as bad if the whole manicure on my right hand had been gel.

If you don’t want to stop using RNP or are interested in getting slightly longer wear with your RNP, I would recommend trying a gel top coat with it.  However, you can’t expect it to be as good as the wear time you would get with a gel manicure.  For that reason I would suggest that, if you’re not heavily invested in RNP, start transitioning to gel polish… unless you like changing your RNP every couple days to match your outfit, mood, occasion, etc.  If you’re looking for 1 week+ wear time, gel is the way to go.

Black Liquid Sand

The OPI Mariah Carey Liquid Sand set includes “Get Your Number”, “Can’t Let Go”, “The Impossible”, and “Stay the Night”.  This design features the intriguing black polish with magenta glitter called “Stay the Night”.

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For this design I applied two layers of FingerPaints “Bid on It Berry” on the middle finger and thumb.  Once that was dry I laid down nail art tape in two stripes down the nail.  Then I applied two coats of the liquid sand enamel to those nails, back to back as quickly as possible.  As soon as the second coat was on, I pulled the tape off, revealing the berry-colored polish beneath.  On the other 6 nails I applied three coats of the liquid sand enamel, allowing each one to dry thoroughly before applying the next.  Later, I applied a thin layer of top coat.

I have used several of OPI’s Liquid Sand polishes so far, and they are really nice.  They apply evenly and dry more quickly than I expected.  My only complaint is that the “liquid sand” appears slightly white after the polish is thoroughly dry.  I think you’re not supposed to apply top coat so that you won’t smooth over the texture, but I found that a thin layer of top coat fixed the whiteness issue while retaining the textured feel of the polish.  I hope you can see that in the photo.

Gem-infused Gel Polish

Red Carpet Manicure (RCM) has released a new collection of their gel polish called “Dazzling Gems”, which they advertise are produced with certified precious gems, like emerald in the color called “Emmy-rald Winner” and Opal in “Stealing the Spotlight”.

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This new line was inspired by some colors  RCM created for limited edition wear by celebrities, like 2012’s “Amor 24” which contained 24 karat gold dust and was worn by Rihanna, and their 2013 color called “Set in Stone” which was infused with diamond dust and worn by Carly Rae Jepsen to the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Now, they’re offering different (and more!) colors at a much more affordable price point – $11.99 at your local Ulta.

As you know, I am loyal to Gelish. I have never bought any other gel polish brand.  This might be a game changer, though!

This is the first time I have seen gel polish with precious gems added and offered for retail sale to the public, but infusing regular nail polish with precious metals is nothing new.  Right now you can buy OPI top coat nail polish with 18 K white gold and silver flakes in it called Mariah Carey Pure, which was released in fall 2013 alongside her holiday collection, or Zoya’s Limited Edition “Gilty Pleasures” also with 18K gold flakes in it (but no silver flakes).