Recently I have had a rather interesting experience with my nails and the gel polish used on them. Being a hairstylist means that my hands are constantly in and out of water/chemicals that can be rather “hard” on regular nail polish. Gel polish or similar products that require a UV light to harden the product can not only hold up to such treatment, but also CAN make your nails harder while wearing them. This is not because it is making your nail thicker or healthier but because the thickness and hardness of the product itself will make your nails look and feel thicker/harder, and 9 times out of 10 you will not break or chip any nails while wearing them.
I have worn Gel polish numerous times before this one, and like any good nail service, you get what you pay for and you get better results when you research a good nail technician. There is a nail salon within walking distance from the salon I do hair in so while I don’t really have an excuse not to have presentable nails at all times, I have always found myself with a love hate relationship with nail salons. My nails and cuticles are sensitive when the nail tech doesn’t allow the proper amount of time for soaking or use a cuticle removal product correctly.
So two weeks ago having wasted money on a regular manicure the week before that lasted 6 hours, I decided to get Gel polish on both my hands and feet. I had two different people working on my hands and feet. The girl who was doing my pedicure took her time, did a great job, but most importantly didn’t hurt my cuticles or nail beds. The girl who was working on my manicure was much more forceful with her tools and at one point I found myself wincing and pulling my hands away from her.
Im not sure when “dry scraping” a customer’s nails with no cuticle remover and less than a 1 minute soak in warm water became the standard at this place but I wasn’t having it and instructed her (which I know infuriated her) on how I would like my nails done. She knows who I am and where I work, so as a fellow beauty service provider of the same industry she should know that I went through the same training as she did. Prior to applying the gel polish it is required for the technician to buff or texturize the nail by using a file or a buffing pad. Normally you do not need to do both as it would be overkill to any well trained nail professional, yet I got both types of files used on my nails, one right after the other.
While she applied the polish properly and my nails looked good my nails were very sensitive from the excesive filing. At the end of my manicure my cuticles were so red and raw they could be considered bleeding. I left the nail shop and went home and after a few hours the sensitivity subsided.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that I was removing my Gel polish at home that I realized how much damage she had actually done to my nails. To remove the Gel I soaked my nails in remover solution for 15 minutes at a time and then lightly used a metal cuticle pusher to scrape the polish off in layers. I repeated this process approximately 2-4 times per hand in order to keep my nail beds as healthy as possible.
The Gel polish was coming off very easily with a cuticle pusher, yet the evidence left behind by the excesive filing that had been done on them left my nails in a slight state of destroyed. Remember, I am a fully licensed cosmetologist and have every certification under my license and training to know exactly how to perform the Gel application and removal. This wasn’t a “consumer on a budget” mistake by trying to take this product off my nails at home.
While removing the polish which I spent nearly an hour and a half doing (unlike the 30 minutes most nail salons spend) I could see visible flakes of my nails being shredded off my nail beds. In some areas I even had actual holes in my nails. Here are a few pictures I took after I was shocked to see how bad the condition of my natural nails were underneath the Gel polish:
If you are like me and would rather do your own Gel polish removal to make sure its done properly and without further damage to your nails I recommend this kit by Sensationail:
You can also remove gel polish by wrapping cotton around your nails and soaking them with remover in order to dissolve the Gel polish gradually without submerging your entire hand in a bowl of remover.