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Review on Gel Manicures. Shellac Manicure, OPI & UV Gel Manicure

Gel manciures

This is the 21st century and nail care is necessary more than ever. And gel manicures are becoming the new favorite of all. With gel manicure, you get smudge and chip proof nail color and it lasts a lot longer than regular manicures (2 weeks and more) hence a preferred option for women with busy schedule.

Nail companies are constantly working to improve the nail polish and make it last long. Gel manicures have come a long way since it was first introduced in the market. UV gel, OPI Axxium and now Shellac from CND comes with a lot of promises. Let us take a look at these gel manicures.

OPI gel manicure

Shellac Gel manicure

Almost every salon now offer shellac gel manicure because of its growing demand. Shellac is the new favorite of every woman. A shellac manicure is more hygienic than any other gel manicure. The new shellac is a combination of gel and polish (gelish!) and referred as the hybrid of typical gel manicures. It deals with your natural nails rather than glue or any kind of fake nails. For shellac gel manicure, a manicurist will clean your natural nails, remove cuticles and shape free edge of the nails before applying shellac. After getting ready to be polished, a special base coat is applied first and then the top coat. After coating, you have to put your fingernails under a UV lamp to dry the base coat and the top. Special care is given while polishing the top edge of the nails because it is the final shed. The total process require about 25 minutes. Shellac has several different colors like strawberry smoothie, tropic, fedora and hot chill, cream puff and many more.

Shellac gel makes your nail stronger because of its composition and lasts for approximately two weeks or longer. Shellac is an invention of CND (Creative Nail Design). Shellac nail polish is free from formaldehyde, toluene or DBP and any kind of hypo-allergenic. After being polished by shellac, you will find that your nails become shinier than before and its finishing is so smooth that your nails will look just like a mirror. Shellac nail polish is gorgeous, long lasting and the drying time is shorter than any other typical manicure and you can do your usual work within a short time of applying the final coat of shellac nail polish without the fear of a smudge.

Shellac gel should be applied by a professional as it requires the use of ultraviolet lamps. For a professional manicure, prices range from $25 to $75 depending on the service you want. A shellac manicure is only about 10 to 20 dollars more than the traditional manicure where it lasts 2 to 3 times more than the others do. The removing process is simple and requires less exposure to Acetone, CND offers wraps with acetone on them that can be used to remove the gel from the nail. So, no need to dip your fingers in a bowl of acetone. This makes shellac safer than any other gel manicure removal process.

If you are in New York, one salon that I would personally recommend is DyannaSpa. They offer the best shellac manicure in New York.

UV gel manicure

UV Gel Manicure

The popularity of UV gel manicure is increasing over the last couple of years because of its affordable price compared to other manicure alternatives. For its growing popularity, two thirds of the salons in US now offer this service to their valued customer.

Gel nails could be a suitable alternative to acrylic nails, because it does not have the unpleasant odor like acrylic nails do. Gel nails are more realistic compared to the other alternatives and it allows different types of coloring and nail design according to customer preference.

Let me describe how UV nail gels are applied. Based on what you are asking, the process will vary. The manicurist will start with a cuticle remover. Spread the remover over the nails and scoop up any dead or loose cuticles. After that your nails will be polished with light gel as the base coat and you will have to put your fingernails under UV lamp and wait until it hardens. Then your nails will be polished with nail gel. Again your nails will be placed under the UV lamp for final hardening. After getting hard, the manicurist will file nails with a nail drill to shape it according to your preference. Layers of colors are added to bring in the style you want. After each coat of color, 2 minutes of curing under the UV lamp is necessary. UV gel manicure lasts for 3-4 weeks. Brisa gel is usually used for UV gel manicure. Brisa gel is hypo-allergenic, odor free and known to be safe for the nails.

Artificial nails may or may not be added in UV gel manicure. UV gel nails are not as hard as acrylic nails. That’s why they may not last as long as acrylic nails but the most important feature is it blends in so well that it looks like original nails. UV gel nails have a variety of style, types and colors and a few significant distinctions to note. There are two kinds of UV gel nails. The first one is irremovable and known as standard “gel UV” and the other one is removable.

However, you should be careful while you are going to take a UV gel manicure because if not done properly it can damage your original nails. So, it is always safe to find a top class salon with a licensed and experienced manicurist for having a UV gel.


OPI Gel Manicure

OPI manicure is another highly popular manicure treatment. The process of getting OPI manicure is similar to the other two, after each coat of polish applied to your nails; it will be hardened under the UV lamp. Not all colors and shades are available with OPI that you can get with regular lines. But they do have a good range of colors and different colors can be mixed to bring in new shades and colors.

OPI lasts for two weeks without any crack, chip or break. It is more affordable than the other two mentioned here. In New York, OPI manicure will cost you around $25. OPI introduced the soak off gel in 2009, now almost all the salons have OPI manicure in their service book.

OPI gel removal requires you to soak your nails in a bowl of Acetone. Usually the top gel layer is first scratched by a nail file to make acetone soak in faster. After soaking your nail in Acetone a cuticle pusher is used to remove the flakes of gel from the nails. The process usually takes 15 minutes and is done in cycles to remove all the layers off.

Gel manicures are long lasting, if you want to change your nail color too often, these are probably not the best option for you. Gel manicure offers nail polish for 14+ days without a chip or any wear. Simply affordable, lasts for a long time and gives your nails the charm you wanted.

Have you tried gel manicure? How do you like it and is there any problem you have encountered with gel? Please share in the comments section.

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Carmel on May 06, 2013:

About the SNS I just purchased the pack in Australia Ladies Not Good Not natural let me tell as a nail tech im shocked the gel they put n your natural nail plate is actually nail glue !! That's wright glue that's why no uv lamp is required .I tried it on myself and the strong smell and fumes went up y nose and burnt then my eyes would not stop watering then I said to my client OMG this is glue I got a tip and stuck it on my nail plate and sure enough it stuck so think of that as they repeat the steps on your natural nail ! I am shocked and disgusted they can sell this rubbish and clients here organic and pay just like I bought the pack !! Not the end of it SNS I am not happy :(

Shem on April 25, 2013:

That's not true about opi gel.they are soaked off the same way as shellac, with foil and cotton balls

Vanessa on March 22, 2013:

I've had shellac nails since they first came out in the UK. At first they dried my nails out do my technician and CND advised using cutical oil as often as I can. I've done this and my nails are fine. I like shellac and wouldn't go back to acrilic my nails are much stronger now.

Teri on November 25, 2012:

When the gel and shellac products first came out I used them repeatedly for about six months. They always soaked and filed my nail. I have really strong nails but didn't feel good about it after a while even though I was reassured by the technicians that it was the best way to go. But one of my thumb nails developed a crack all the way to my skin straight down the center. So I quit using it all together.

Angie on July 12, 2012:

Tried gel manicure twice. Each time my nails chipped and peeled of in

5 days. Will not waste my money on this again.

MD on July 08, 2012:

OPI gel manicures are terrible! I work at Ulta and now that we provide this service in the salon, I had gotten one to try it out. Little did I know, I apparently have oily nail beds and my gel polish peeled off for my college audition! My nails looked disgusting and I was very embarrassed. I know have gel nails and I prefer them over anything.

Jan on June 24, 2012:

I discovered 'SNS' short for signature nail system while in Fl. I love it! Nails have never looked so good or been so healthy. Unfortunately, there are no techs in Maine that I've found that use this system. It's not a shellac but similar to gel without the UV light. Can't wait to get back to Fl for get a good Mani.

Elsinore on June 01, 2012:

I am reluctant to try the O.P.I. Nail gel, i know 5 people at work that had it done and began to lift or chip in less than a week. It's too expensive to have that happen. I love O.P.I. polish and last longer than a week on my natural nails. I beleive O.P.I. will improve there gel system with enough complaints.

esthetics2012 on May 29, 2012:

You can always apply sunscreen to the hands for these services! They're dry services that require no water for application so you're sun screen will stay on and help protect the skin :)

Rebekah on May 11, 2012:


I am having the exact same problem as Debbie and I have never peeled the gel off. In fact ,I had it professionally removed.

Kili on April 25, 2012:

I started getting gel shellac manicures about a year and a half ago and I love them. They last over two weeks and still look great. I have found that the brand of shellac polish varies quite a bit and some cheaper brands do not last as long. My nail health has not been compromised at all. People who say their nails are weaker and damaged are trying to peel the polish off themselves instead if going to the salon and having it removed the proper way. My only complaint about gel polish is the colors are limited and recent stories are claiming the uv light is a contributing factor to skin cancer.

debbie on April 08, 2012:

I had a gel, shellac, uv light manicure for 10 weeks, once every 2 weeks. My nails are now a complete mess! I've had to cut them down to nothing, they were splitting, peeling, lots of white spots, etc. They are so weak. Prior to the gel mani's had regular manicures for years with no problem, do not recommend for regular use

Colleen on April 04, 2012:

So Im having a problem understanding what is good. Im tired of getting tips with the Bio Gel all the time i kinda like my nails short now and I would like to know if I should just suffer grow them out naturaly "who does that" or try the Shellac?

MG on March 29, 2012:

I agree with Heather - I decided I wanted to be able to change my color more often - my once strong nails are now soft and break easily. I would not recommend.

Sharon on March 13, 2012:

Love shellac nails! Recommend them and Makinnsey at Fountain of Youth Salon & Spa

Heather on February 23, 2012:

I have had a gel manicure which looked fabulous and lasted really well. However the damage it has done to my own nails is awful. I have really strong nails and they are now flaking really badly. I would not have this done again!

Marlen on February 22, 2012:

The gel manicure is only as good as the technician applying it. I have gone to salon's where it has only lasted a few days. There is one salon near my job that lasts longer than 14 days. I love their work. If you live in south Florida I recommend The Nail Lounge on Miramar pkwy. They are the best!!

Cindy on February 08, 2012:

Got an OPI gel manicure on Friday, now it's Wednesday and the polish on three of my nails has peeled off completely, and a 4th nail has a chipped edge. I know it's "up to" 2 weeks, but I expected longer than 5 days. Very disappointed, and not sure how I'm supposed to go about taking the nailpolish off the remaining nails without destroying my nails...

:) on January 07, 2012:

You should never peel shellac off!! It should only be removed properly with acetone. And it is recommended by creative nail (cnd) to use cuticle oil daily while wearing shellac!!

chestnutt on December 28, 2011:

I like the shellac; tried it first on a cruise and found that your shellac is only as good as the person applying it. I do like having strong, pretty-looking nails without a super high price attached. And if the time comes you tire of it, just peel it off and do your own manicure. I do find my cuticles get extraordinarily dry.

pam on October 23, 2011:

may I put my own polish over my shellac to freshen it after several days?

Diana A. Rivers from New York, New York on October 21, 2011:

UV light is a carcinogen, but remember you are exposed to UV rays every time you come in contact with the sun. If the UV light could be replaced with LED lights to "cure" the nails it would be less harmful, but there isn't enough scientific evidence to say that this process causes skin cancer. UV light exposure should be limited as much as possible during the process.

Theresa on October 11, 2011:

Are gel nails safe? A recent TV report indicates the UV rays use to harden the nails can cause cancer. Any comments on this?

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