Gel Nails – A Review

My poor, neglected blog!  Last year brought TONS of work travel (as in every week), which left no time to really blog 😦  This year is looking much the same, but I’m going to try and make a better effort to blog this year.  At any rate, I thought I’d start off the year with a review of the increasingly popular gel nails.


I had gel nails put on in late December for the first time (see image above).  I just took them off today (3 weeks later!), and they weren’t even chipped.  That’s probably the biggest pro to these things…they last forever and are pretty much indestructible.  My nails started growing out, which is why I decided to go ahead and take them off.  The biggest pro is also related to their biggest con, which is they are a pain in the ass to remove.

I consulted good old Google for tips on how to get them off, and to my surprise, I learned that there are TWO different types of gel nails.  The first kind (which I had) are called “soak offs.”  These are put on in thin layers with what looks like normal nail polish.  They only difference is that they are cured with UV light.  The other kind are also called “shellac” nails.  They are put on with layers of thick gel and also cured under UV light.  Luckily for me, the soak offs are a bit “easier” to remove than the shellac nails (one site recommended that those only be removed professionally).

No matter how you look at it, you are supposed to soak your nails in pure acetone for 5-7 minutes in order to “loosen” the gel.  Then you scrape it off.  I wasn’t really keen on this idea because acetone is hard on your nails but also on your skin.  With it being winter, my hands are dry enough as it is. Apparently, someone else felt the same way because I found a blog that recommended soaking a small bit of gauze in acetone, and putting it on the nail only.  Then, cover just the end of your finger with foil to hold it on there.  This created minimum exposure for your skin.  Genius idea!  So, I followed this method, with a few minor modifications.  I didn’t have pure acetone, but I did have acetone nail polish removal pads.  These things are brilliant…they are little felt pads, loaded with nail polish remover.  You can get either acetone or acetone-free.  I had the acetone ones, which aren’t 100% acetone but diluted with water and a few other ingredients to “moisturize.”  So, I used those.  Here’s a step-by-step of what I did:

  1. Cut a piece of foil into 10 small squares, one for each nail.
  2. Cut nail polish removal pads (I used 2) into 10 small squares.  (Note:  Do these only 5 at a time to prevent drying.)
  3. Place the small square of the pad on your nail, and cover the end of your finger with foil. (Note:  I did one hand at a time because it is difficult to do much of anything with your fingers covered in foil.)
  4. Wait approximately 7 minutes.  The longer you wait, the easier it will be to remove.
  5. Remove the foil on one nail at a time, an using a metal cuticle pusher, scrape the gel nail polish off.  If you can’t get all layers the first time, put the foil back on your finger for a few more minutes, and then scrape again.  It took me about 2 rounds for most of my nails.
  6. Your nails will be rough.  Use a file to smooth them out.  I then used one of those square nail buffing/shining things to smooth them even further.  (I bought mine years ago when they first came out from one of those annoying kiosk people in the mall who were all, “Ladies, can I rub lotion on you?”  As it turns out, this nail buffing thingy was a good purchase…the lotion I threw away a long time ago.  Anyway, I think you can buy these just about anywhere now).
  7. Repeat on the other hand.

Seems simple, right?  Key word in that sentence is seems.  I think this process still took me about 45 minutes (or longer).

The bottom line…would I get gel nails again?  For a special occasion, probably so.  For every day, definitely not unless I had them professionally put on and removed each time.  I did LOVE how long they lasted and how great they looked for SO LONG, but I’m a little too impatient for the lengthy removal process.