I recently discovered a new breed of nail polish: UV-light cured gel polish that promises to last 3 weeks minimum AND allows busy-bees to run off into the wild with almost instantaneously dry nails!!! Where have I died in the last couple of years??? How did I not discover such a trend that has the entire world of nail fanatics buzzing??? Well, it’s never too late to try them. I was not sure of how these manicures work, so I decided to go have a manicure and pedicure first before making my initial investments. I asked my local nail salon to do Bio Seaweed in Coral Reef gel polish on my toes and a mix of Shellac 02+17 colors on my nails (see 3rd pic below).
So obviously these new gel polishes got me hooked. I did my research and bada bing, bada boom I bought the whole “Basix” set of full size Gelish polishes which includes “pH Bond,” “Foundation,” and “Top It Off.” I also bought 4 very popular colors in Ambiance, Forever Beauty, Gossip Girl, and Passion. Of course, gel manicures are not complete without a UV lamp. I even went to consult my dad as to whether UV lamps or LED-UV lamps are better in terms of limiting exposure to harmful UV rays. We’ve come to conclude that LED lamps are indeed better and I was able to buy this lamp at a decent price. Other accessories that you need are acetone, alcohol, buffers, cuticle pushers, nail clippers/file, wooden sticks, lint free wipes, and any other usual manicure supply.
The LED-UV lamp shown below is by USpicy and has 3 pre-set timers of 30, 60, or 90 seconds. There’s also a count down timer. The device can be left on continuously, or can be activated using the “Start” button, or by motion detection which is phenomenal! lol The lamp is also spacious enough for me to spread my fingers completely including my thumb. It also comes with a manual and complimentary nail file.
Here is my Shellac gel manicure at 2 weeks. The photo is not edited other than for brightness, shadows, and exposure. You see how the nail polish grows out more. It’s not that shiny anymore, but given that it’s been 2 weeks, it’s still not bad. Shellac has a problem of minimal color selection and they encourage users to mix polishes to make more novel colors… I don’t really get this concept and the polish does not look even with 2 different colors because you can see that there are blotches of copper undertones.
Excuse my yucky dry cuticles from constantly washing my hands and sanitizing them with alcohol due to the nature of my work.
The above picture illustrates how Shellac gel polish comes off after 10 minutes of soaking in acetone. The polish becomes flakey and you can use a cuticle pusher or even your own nails to gently scrap off the residue.
After I washed my hands, you see that my nails are now really dried out from the acetone. There’s also tiny little specks of polish left over, but no worries, we’ll get rid of them later.
Next, clean, file/cut, buff, and push back cuticles as you normally would with any manicure. Apply a good hand cream, preferably with SPF to protect you hands from UV rays, and it will also keep them moisturized when you put on your protective gloves. I bought these moisturizing gloves and cut off the tips so that I can continue to work on my nails while the gloves protect the rest of my hand from UV light.
There are many tutorials on Youtube or just google “Gelish” which will give you step by step instructions on how to do your own DIY gel polish. Basically here is what I did:
1. Starting with clean nails, use “pH Bond” to dehydate nails. No need to cure* under UV/LED light.
2. Apply thin layer of “Foundation” and cure.
3. Remove tacky residue with lint free brush or wipe (I get mine from work – medical grade lint free gauze lol).
4. Apply thin layer of Gelish polish of choice (I used Forever Beauty) and cure.
5. Apply second layer of Gelish polish of choice and cure.
6. Apply “Top It Off” and cure.
7. Wipe off final tacky layer with alcohol (I use Quo by Orly Gels Cleanser)
8. Moisturize with cuticle oil (I use GraSPA’s Tea Tree cuticle oil).
*Cure is a term used in pottery and it’s been adapted to mean setting your polish under UV/LED light. Based on your lamp’s wattage and type, your curing time may differ from others. If you’re not sure, just set your timer for an extra cure. Supposedly, Gelish‘s products cure 10-30 seconds with LED light, but I just make it simple for myself and cure with 30s each time, and I give a final boost of 30s extra at the end.
Lastly, here is my Gelish polish in Forever Beauty!!! SUCCESS with my first DIY gel manicure! Remember to always keep your layers thin, if you mess up and there are pieces of hair or lint, don’t worry, just continue on… the next layer will cover up everything! lol Just make sure you don’t mess up the last 2 layers which are probably the most important to give that flawless look. You also want to make sure you don’t go over the cuticles or get any of this stuff on the skin, so always scrape off excess with a wooden stick. The picture below really doesn’t show the details of the polish, but it’s a gorgeous peachy nude with shimmer!
Your polish has set! Now you’re all done and carry on with the rest of your day with no worries of your manicure smudging or chipping!!! 😀