‘Shellac’, ‘BioSculpture’, ‘GELeration’, ‘3 week manicures’, when researching gel polish manicures, a plethora of brand names and strap lines are out there influencing your decision. We all want to feel we are getting a good price but at what cost? Rock bottom pricing can mean sacrificing the health of your nails…and your safety!
A couple of years ago the ‘gel manicure’ swept onto almost every beauty salon price list in a matter of minutes and is fast becoming one of the most popular manicure treatments. Certainly at Cannelle Beauty the number of gel nail treatments now far outnumbers traditional manicures .
Gel manicures offer clients a long lasting, durable polish that dries in seconds under a UV or LED lamp. The polish remains chip resistant for up to 3 weeks, uber glossy and can be as hard wearing as artificial nails. No blowing or flapping your polish dry, no smudges or chips getting out car keys. As soon as you reach for your purse to pay your nails are totally ‘cured’ … aka dry.
In theory, gel polish manicures don’t damage your nails in the same way a ‘false’ gel or acrylic manicure can. So, what’s not to love? Well, not so much the treatment as WHO DOES the treatment.
There are now a huge number of nail salons (typically ones which have traditionally focused on acrylic nail extensions) that are compromising the general health and safety of clients in order to provide quick treatment times. Fast treatment times means more clients through the door, more clients through the door of course means more cash.
To my horror when I stepped into one nail bar in Oxford for a gel polish application the therapist brandished a drill and began drilling the natural surface of my nail prior to applying the polish. This was to ensure the polish bonded with my natural nail i.e. that the polish remained in place for the maximum length of time possible (up t o 3 weeks). However these drills if used incorrectly (if used at all in my opinion) can remove a dangerously large amount of your nail and can damage your nail bed and cuticle area. They are high speed razor sharp drills…drilling within a fraction of a millimeter of your cuticle and skin.
Electric nail drills are sophisticated bits of machinery that require careful maintenance and should only be used (again – if at all – in my opinion) by qualified, licensed professional beauty therapists. In many salons you just don’t get the care and attention that you need in order for your basic safety and hygiene to be guaranteed.
In my personal experience, drills and files are swapped between multiple clients throughout the day with zero serialization, clients that already have the gel nail polish applied and want it removed and re-applied are provided with bowls filled to the brim with acetone remover and told to sit with their fingers submerged in the potent liquid usually while another client’s treatment is being finished. Sometimes for in excess of 15 minutes.
Acetone is extremely strong stuff (you only have to smell it to give you an idea of how potent it is) and it dries your nails rapidly if left in contact for too long.
The safest way to apply the acetone gel polish remover is to place acetone soaked cotton wool on the polish just long enough to soften it, with dedicated therapist watching and testing the polish at all times.
In September 2012 Samantha Sweet, a spokesperson for Shellac said to the Mail Online “Applying Shellac shouldn’t damage the nail surface,’ she says. ‘The polish has a honeycomb construction, making it porous. The oils penetrate and nourish nails.” In other words you do not need to drill a natural nail in order for the gel polish to bond. The maximum that might ever be required is a light, careful buffing by hand with a soft file, never a drill.
Sweet also emphasises that proper removal is essential to the health of nails. ‘You shouldn’t be saturating the nail with acetone, and you certainly shouldn’t soak the entire hand in a bowl of acetone,’
So having experienced the cheaper alternatives in Oxford myself now (I have been to a total of five nail bars) my nails are hugely damaged, my nail beds sore and at times have bled during treatment. It it has definitely not been worth the few quid I’ve saved.
In addition the top brands cost. Salons invest in these polishes because they provide good results and they don’t come cheap. If a salon is offering rock bottom prices on gel nails the chances are the gel polish they are claiming is ‘Shellac’ or ‘BioSculpture’ actually isn’t.
Please don’t think that a lower priced salon will provide you with the same treatment. It nearly always won’t and when it’s time to pay you may well find yourself asking “what’s the damage?” in the literal sense.