In the early 2000’s there was a huge trend for acrylic nails. The longer and squarer the better, with the focus being on ugly white tips and tacky nail art that at the time we thought was cutting edge. I had acrylic nails for four years, with practically no let up between, which left my nail beds damaged for years on end. I spent an absolute age investing in strengthening and growth treatments in an attempt to get my talons back to their former glory (I always had lovely strong and long nails, so I had no idea what I was thinking,) only to ruin them all over again thanks to a new trend. Gel nails were hailed to be the revolutionary technique that would change the way we viewed nail polish, offering up to four weeks of unchipped colour without damaging the nail bed beneath. Although this sounded like a dream, in my experience it really was too good to be true…
I’ve had numerous sets of gel nails as I can never keep a traditional polish unchipped for more than about three days; making a living from your keyboard and having an unnatural obsession with washing the dishes three times a day doesn’t really leave my talons looking their best. I initially tried gel nails when they first launched and loved the results – until it came to take them off. Unfortunately my technician didn’t really know what she was doing and used an acrylic nail buffer to essentially file off the colour, leaving me with paper thin nails beneath. After being convinced by friends who are addicted to try them again, I bit the bullet and had gel nails applied as part of my bridesmaid duty to ensure my manicure remained flawless for the entire weekend. However, when it came to removing the polish a few weeks later it was clear that this just wasn’t agreeing with me; once again my nails were left looking and feeling incredibly thin, breaking off and splitting for the next few months. Last October while on a mini cruise, I figured that the price and expertise of the treatment onboard would surely offer me a superior finish and no real damage… How wrong I was.
Nearly six months later and my nails are still splitting, still chipping and still breaking off as soon as they show a little bit of length. Although I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, that temporary beautiful result really wasn’t worth the long-time pain and frustration I’ve experienced as a result of gel nails. Unfortunately it’s not all about the application (although opting for someone that really knows what they’re doing helps,) but about the removal process and the expertise of your technician that is most important – so many manicurists claim to know how to apply and remove gel nails, but from my experience there’s a serious lack of understanding and education in the UK. My mother has also experienced horrendous results following gel applications in her local salon, which she’d started undertaking because of a great offer. My suspicions were aroused of them not offering the official product to keep their prices down (after watching a documentary on fake Shellac,) and a few months later confirmed when her nails were even worse than my own.
I know of many women and close friends that swear by gel nails or have their own at-home kits, but for me the problems far outweigh the benefits of a chip-free manicure. With so many ill-informed and uneducated professionals applying and removing the product incorrectly, as well as so many imitation bottles of polish appearing on salon shelves up and down the UK, the aftermath leaves many of us wishing we just opted for a file and paint instead. In a world obsessed with convenience and time saving, gel manicures have become incredibly popular; removing the need to re-paint your nails every few days is one less thing to think about. However, from my experience, unless you visit a technician you can truly trust and have continual applications to cover any potential damage, it’s really not worth the pain and problem solving that comes with it. That’s why I’m throwing the towel in and quitting for good – sorry Shellac, you’re just not for me.
Have you experienced gel nails and been left with damaged talons, or do you love the technique and have never looked back? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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