Nail care mini series: why I love gel polish

Today is day two of my nail care mini series. Hoorah! I’m going to talk a little bit about why I love using gel nail polish. For the vintage gal who loves to look polished but don’t want to fuss with her nails several times a week, gel nail polish is for you!

I converted to using gel nail polish a couple of years ago. I seriously haven’t looked back since! It’s been kind of my little nail miracle for my previously short, stubby, and troublesome nails (which I talked about in my series intro post). Basically, its big claim to fame is long-lasting polish without having to get acrylic nails at a salon. There are many brands available so there’s lots of options, which I’ll talk more about this week.

So why do I love using gel nail polish so much??

Quick dry time

Actually, instantaneous! This is one of THE best things about gel polish. You cure each coat under a little LED lamp for 30 seconds (which I’ll talk about that more in tomorrow’s post). There are alsoUV lamps as well which take a little longer to cure, although I get the impression LED is the new direction and more and more polishes say for UV and LED lamps, which is great.

When you paint your nails with a gel polish, there’s no waiting around, no dents in your nail polish 10 minutes later, no impressions from your sheets the next time you sleep. When you’re done, they are 100% dry. End of story. Go eat a hamburger or go knit. Amazing.

Longevity

I love for my nails to look great, but I don’t love having to think about them a lot. Gel polish can last up to about two weeks! And not like some regular nail polish that claims it won’t chip for a week–I’ve never ever found that to be true. But gel polish, yes, it really does last! This is pretty awesome when you’re used to having to paint your nails every few days!

Mine usually lasts 10-14 days, although I most recently had it on for 16 days. My nails grow quickly, so the regrowth shows pretty soon, and sometimes it’s enough to bug me before the polish even starts to look a little tired at the tips or edges.

new nail growth

And what do I mean about it looking tired? They say gel polish doesn’t chip, but that’s not really true. Yes, under most circumstances the polish won’t chip for quite some time, but by about day 10 you might start to see it peeling off (aka lifting) a bit at the tip of one or two nails, or at the side edge. For me, it’s often on the fingers I use the most: my pointer and middle finger, or my thumb.

Although in the photo below, I managed to chip my thumb nail somehow. Normally I would just paint back over this if I wasn’t ready to change my polish (which you can do quite easily), but I wanted to show you that it can happen.

(It’s worth noting that the shorter my nails are, the less likely this is to happen.)

chipped

 Strength and durability

Gel nail polish is thicker than normal nail polish, and when you’re using a base coat, a top coat and 2-3 coats of color (I often do 3 since I like my colors really opaque), that’s a lot of polish. It really makes for quite strong nails! This is a huge bonus for women like me who are less than delicate with their hands. It’s almost like a thin layer of plastic on your nails. For me, it holds up to way more than any normal polish ever could. Great news if you use your hands a lot, especially for work!

Now, your nails themselves aren’t really that much stronger, it’s the thick gel polish that’s almost like a lacquer coating the surface, acting like a protective barrier. Normal nail polish does add a little bit of durability to your nails, but with gel polish it’s a lot more noticeable. Those thick layers of polish really makes for a huge difference in the day-to-day feel of your nails and how they’re protected. Before I switched to gel polish, my nails were pretty easily bent once they’d get a free edge, and now that’s not the case! They’re not impossible to break by any means (and I have… I did the other day), but the difference is dramatic. Dramatic enough that I can actually allow my nails to grow, and they don’t break or crack in the corners, with the gel polish protecting them. The difference is astounding.

Gelish Ooba Ooba Blue Gelish polish in Ooba Ooba Blue

And let’s do a before and after like yesterday, just to show you the worst case of how my nails used to look. The photo on the below left is terrible since you can barely see my nails (I had a hard time even finding a photo like this since I was obviously doing my best to not have my nails looking their crummiest on camera). But I think you can see enough to get an eyeful of the difference..!

2011 vs. 2014

I could never, ever have worn my nails like the photo on the right prior to using gel polish. Not once in my life were my natural nails ever this long before. Literally not one single time. This may not be long for some, but it’s an astounding difference to someone who was used to often having little kid nails!

Happier nails

I mentioned in my intro post that my nails naturally aren’t that strong. They peel and break easily, which is why I could never grow them to any length whatsoever. But from years of biting them, a few of them had uneven ridges or little kinds of hills and valleys and just were otherwise not always perfectly smooth. They were always just a little bit raggedy and dodgy looking.

However, now? Most of that has smoothed out over time, and of course I’m able to wear them longer as you’ve seen. Honestly, they don’t even seem like the same nails as before I used gel polish!

Gelish He Loves Me, Le Loves Me Not Gelish polish in He Loves Me, Le Loves Me Not

Of course, if you’re planning to wear polish basically all the time, you’ll always want to make sure to keep an eye on your nails between polish to make sure you haven’t developed a fungal infection, because that’s certainly not happy. It’s something that can happen on toes or hands alike with any kind of polish or lack thereof… I’ve fortunately never had an issue with this at any point in my life. That’s one of the reasons that I prefer to to my own nails versus going to a salon, because I’m paying very close attention to my nails.

All-around gorgeousness

I don’t know why, but I think a combination of a glassy finish and self-leveling polish makes nails painted with gel polish look so good! Wouldn’t you agree?

gel nail polish montage

Any downsides?

It does take a bit more time and effort to paint your nails with gel polish than normal nail polish, but let that thought fly out of your head. Okay yes, if you only paint your nails once or twice a month then gel nail polish would take you more time to apply and remove. However if you’re a regular nail painter like me, then the amount of time you spend each week currently is probably more than you’d end up spending every 10 days to 2 weeks using gel polish! It may take more time each sitting, but you have to do it way less often!

You also have to be very accurate painting your nails with gel polish, as if you get any on your skin (and I mean ANY), it will cure solid with the lamp. So if you have some polish going from your nail to your skin it’ll make a hard little bit that will likely lift off and peel. Good news #1: I find it much easier to be accurate with gel polish (I accidentally confirmed this looking back at some of the less-than-stellar ways my nails were painted beforehand, ha ha). Good news #2: If you do get polish on your skin, simply wipe it off with an orange stick or cotton swab before you cure! No big deal.

And some people say that your nails peel more easily with gel polish. Since my nails were already prone to that when they had any length to them, it’s hard for me to compare. On occasion I do get a bit of peeling at the edges of the nails on the fingers I use the most (only my thumb, fore finger and middle finger ever, and that’s when my nails start to get quite long. So it’s usually a sign that it’s time for me to give them a bit of a spa day. It’s really nothing that’s every been a problem for me, and I’ve been using gel polish for around 2 years or so. Though everyone’s nails are different, of course, so your mileage may vary. But later in the week I’ll talk about my daily nail care routine that helps the overall health and happiness of my hands and nails!

Next time…

Tomorrow I’ll show you what it’s like to apply and remove gel polish so you’ll really know what the routine is like, and give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way from doing it for so long!

Filed: Vintage Dibs and Dabs

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Golly, 17 Comments!

  • Ooo I think it’s time I tried gel nail polish, I’m forever painting my nails and then touching them up! Thanks for sharing :)

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  • Eeep! This is making me feel so excited about gel nail polish! Can’t wait for the rest of the series!

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  • So excited for this series as I’ve found your nails an inspiration to grow my own and have been meaning to ask you about this very topic! Thanks for sharing ;)

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  • Oh yay! I’ve been waiting for this series for a while now. :)

    I don’t paint my nails as often as I’d like since the polish only lasts 3 days (max) for me before it looks horrible. I’d love this solution to keep paint on my nails – and looking good the whole time.

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  • I have the same nails and love no chip for the same reasons! But I’m so jealous of you being able to do your own. Mine turn out just terrible!

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  • I usually go nearly a month between repolishing – usually they need it by then but I am amazed at how well it lasts.

    Very tempted to start doing it at home though.

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  • So glad you’re doing this series. My nails are just like yours. I’ve been going to the nail salon to get shellac but that’s getting too expensive so I’m anxious to hear any tips/product recommendations to do it at home! Thanks!!

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  • This is way more interesting than I thought! :) I was under the impression, with my daily life sorta rough on my hands/nails, that I could just cross painted nails off the list, but now I’m curious. :)

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  • Thank you for this mini-series! I’m not normally a big fan of any kind of beauty-posts but I’m quite intrigued by these.
    I gave up painting my fingernails regularly years ago because sewing, knitting, housework and work aways made the paint chip after about a day. If I even managed to get it on properly…
    If the gel polish routine you explain looks do-able to me I’ll definitely try it.

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  • Thanks for this series!! I love nail polish put have been reluctant to try the gel options as I had assumed they’d wreck your nails by staying on so long and from the lamp. Your nails look great. Looking forward to the rest of these posts! :)

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  • I’ve been contemplating investing in this after some friends’ rave reviews. Hopefully you can touch on some of your favorite polish brands and also what type of lamp to get in your next post.
    Thanks, H

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  • Can’t wait for tomorrow’s post! :)

    Lisa.

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  • Being a nail polish ho’ I absolutely MUST change my nail art every 3 days maximum or I may just go crazy. I have been sent numerous gel systems to review and they are all sitting here still. I think I’ll always be a polish girl but it’s nice to have systems here as a backup just in case!
    If you ever change back to polish or take a break in between manicures, use a Nail Tek Foundation base for super strong nails. After a few months your nails will be hard as rock. xx

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  • so fascinating! I love the look!! is the polish more or less toxic than regular nail polish?

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    • Really good question! Honestly I’m not sure although I’d suspect about the same. However the nice thing is that the company whose polish I’ll be reviewing Thursday doesn’t use any harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process and they don’t test on animals, so those are two big pluses. :)

      Reply

  • Ooo, I’ll be interested to hear more! I had to stop wearing nail polish because of my job, but I wonder if I could do a sheer or nude shade of gel polish without anyone noticing to save my fingernails from splintering off regularly.

    Reply

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