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Saturday, 10 January 2015

About Soak Off Gel - A Few Months On

Hi guys,
I've decided to do another post about gel as it's been a few months now since I started doing soak off gel manicures at home and I've learnt a few things in that time. So sit back, relax and enjoy!

Gelish: 2 Coats Need a Tan + 2 Coats Bashful - Sun
In my first post about starting soak off gel manicures I stated that purpose behind them was to protect my nails for when I start work. Well that day is tomorrow and I've had a lot of practice applying gels and I'm confident that they will work how I want them to. In the last few months I've found out a few things that work for me when applying gel. I've branched out into more brands and I've gotten neater with my application. The following pictures are all manis I've done using gel and most of them are neutral looking as I use them as a base for further nail art or regular polish.

GellieBeans: 3 Coats Candy Heart - Indoors + Natural Light
When I apply gel I do extremely thin coats. I find this works for me to get even colour coverage on all nails whilst ensuring proper curing. I don't mind have VNL with a neutral gel base as it gives a "my nails but better look" and makes them super shiny to boot. I think that my coats are a lot thinner than the average and for that reason I do more of them for particular colours than other people do. When looking at how opaque a gel polish is you need to take the thickness of coats into consideration. Thick coats can end up with pooling in the side walls and thick tips. I like to have an even thickness over the whole nail so I do really really thin coats. Thin coats of top coat are also important as it tends to pool. I may do some flash curing if I think it will pool. I prefer to do 2 thin coats of top coat than 1 thick coat as I get a more even and less lumpy finish. It does take me longer to do my gel manis but I'm happier with the result. My current mani is a base coat, 5 coats of colour (yes, 5!) and 2 coats of top coat and it doesn't feel any thicker than a mani with two coats of regular nail polish. See for yourself in the photo below!

Emily de Molly Ivory Tower + Gelibility
The other thing I do when applying gel is be really neat with application. I go quite slow to make sure I get even coverage and a nice line at the cuticle. I also try to get as close to the cuticle as possible to minimise the 'growth' line. I've found that after about 10 days my growth line is about 2 to 3 mm, so I don't think I'd be able to go more than 2 weeks with one gel mani. It just bugs me! That's not to the gel wouldn't last that long, I've never had a chip in my gel manis. I have the capped edge peel off if I play with it and I didn't adequately dehydrate the tip of my nail, but the whole top of the nail is still covered with gel.

Gelish: 4 Coats of Need a Tan - Sun
Onto nail prep. I bought a cuticle remover (Blue Cross brand) and before each gel mani I push back my cuticles with my other nails and then apply the cuticle remover. I leave it for about 30 seconds and then gently wipe away any dead skin and product with Q tips or makeup remover pads. It's really effective! It doesn't hurt and it leaves the cuticles so nice looking. It also give me more time before the growth line starts to bother me. After I do that I might buff my nails a bit if they need it or I move straight to wiping them down with alcohol. I've stopped using the pH bond dehydrator for the moment as I had 2 horrendous removals and it literally took me 2 hours to get the gel off. It left a thin, patchy layer of gel base residue on my nails which I'm going to have to let grow out. I don't want to buff my nails too much. I've also been smothering my nails in cuticle oil between removing the gel and applying a new set. I let the oil soak for about 20 minutes and then cleanse with alcohol. This resulted in a much easier removal for me so I'll be doing this from now on unless the gel starts lifting. I may use the pH bond again later but really sparingly, only on the tips and around the border of my nails. I've learnt my lesson!

Neutral Gel Base + EdM Stamping
By using gel to protect my natural nails and also help strengthen them, you might be wondering if I even use my regular polish any more. Generally I stamp on the neutral base after a few days of enjoying the 'nude' look. after I get tired of that I remove the regular polish and applying whatever colour I want to from my stash. I've been using the Cutex Nail Polish remover which contains acetone (80 wt%) to remove the regular polish I use a light hand. Occasionally the edges of the gel start to flake a bit, but this towards the end of the gel mani's life and it doesn't bother me. I tried using non acetone remover and it was even worse, I had to scrub the polish off and the gel suffered. The gel base is excellent for regular nail polish as it wears like iron and I get no chips! Even after a week! I have had some polish stain the gel, so beware of that, but at least it's not my natural nail. the only issue I've had with regular nail polish is shrinkage when applying quick dry top coats. If I do regular nail polish colour and then use the quick dry it's fine. It's when i add stamping and use the quick dry again over top that it starts to pull up the edges of the polish and sometimes it pulls up the gel. It's not a huge deal to me as it's only a thin sliver around the edge of the gel, but you do have to be careful during removal to ensure the remover doesn't get under the edge of the gel and starts to soak it off. Other that that, I am having the best time with soak off gel. my manis last forever and it just makes everything easier.

Gelish: 3 Coats White + Matte Top Coat + Gold Stamping
Since using the gel, my nails have been growing really well without peeling. I've been using cuticle oil several times a day which probably helps. The staining from Orly's Melodious Utopia is finally nearly gone. There's just a bit of yellow left on my tips and my nail beds are a gorgeous pink. There's been no new staining with the gel protecting my nails. I've branched out into GellieBeans polish which I buy from Ozsale. I've also got some Gelibility which I will post about once I remove my current mani. I cure all these brands in Gelish lamp using the 45 second timer. I do really thin coats to ensure proper curing and I haven't had any issues. I've also been using Gelish Vitagel for most of my gel manicures and I find it adds strength and is generally a good base coat. I think it lasts pretty well but like I said, after 10 days I'm ready for a new gel base because of the growth.

Gelish: 3 Coats White + Gold Stamping
Phew, that turned out to be a really long post, congratulations if you managed to stick it out! If there's anything you want to know, just ask in the comments and I'll try my best to answer it.

Pins, Patterns and Polish

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