My whole life I’ve loved getting my nails done but I’ve never been one to go consistently or maintain always having my nails done. It was partially a cost reason but also I just never felt like I had the time to go sit in the salon for an hour (thanks pharmacy school lol). When I graduated it was on my list of self care items that I wanted to get more into but then in residency I couldn’t have my nails done since I was in and out of the clean room making IV’s a lot, and then well, COVID struck midway through my residency. So long story short, about a year after finishing residency I attempted to start being the put together women that always had her nails done. I did a gel manicure once in a while but felt like my nails were getting so brittle the more I went.
Last year, before our big vacation to Hawaii in September, I made an appointment at my usual nail salon for a pre-vacay mani pedi. I was not taking chances this time with brittle nails…I recently had broken a nail down to the bed and had a tip put on with gel over top so I figured, hell let’s get tips on all my nails just incase that glue will make them stronger. It seemed that everyone at my salon was confused what exactly I was asking for and I remember the owner said “UV gel?” and I’m thinking um well gel goes under UV light, so yes? It became apparent very quickly I had not agreed to my usual manicure. This “gel” polish was not the same at all and the process was much more intensive but people pleaser me was just along for the ride. In the end they actually came out incredible and I have since never gone back to a normal gel manicure.
I’m sharing what exactly I get for a manicure now, how it differs from gel and all the benefits I’ve seen since changing, plus my most recent manicure inspired by my trip to Nashville!
Gel Nails vs. Gel Polish – I have always said UV gel or gel, which is how my nail salon differentiates each one, but if you were to look up the difference you may see them called “gel nails” vs “gel polish” so to not get confused: UV gel = gel nails, gel = gel polish. Gel polish is simple a normal polish that lasts longer than regular nail polish. Gel nails on the other hand or more like acrylics. The polish itself is a thick moldable gel that then hardens under UV light. It has to be smoothed and thinned out with the electric file (very similar to the acrylic nails I got in middle school for all other 90s babies). Gel nails are a faux nail or nail enhancement over top your natural nail or over top tips like I had originally done.
Pros of Gel Nails – MUCH stronger and more durable, do not break or chip in my experience, last longer (I only get my nails done once every ~4+ weeks when the grow out is too noticeable), MUCH less damaging to your natural nail! When you go to the salon they file down the old nail/polish BUT unlike gel polish being filed down, with gel nails only the artificial coating is affected. This means layers aren’t being taken off your natural nail in the same way they would with gel polish every 2-4 weeks and the difference for me has been insane.
Cons of Gel Nails – more expensive, more time intensive for a manicure (~1 hr in my experience)
My Usual Routine –
- Shape: elongated round or almond without the sharp point
- Color: white french tip most often, great pink color is “Getting Nadi on My Honeymoon,” if I do red it’s usually “Big Apple Red,” I’ve been more bold lately so I’ll be sure to update my nails IG highlight with new color choices!
- Frequency: I go about every 4 weeks, since they never chip or break I go really once they are grown out too far so I can flex this up if I’m busy or I’ll go sooner if I want to change up the look for a vacay/event
- Salon: Villa Nail Spa in Guilford CT, if you want to get UV gel there it’s best to call ahead to make an appointment. They also have locations in Old Saybrook and Madison CT.
Let me know what you think if you end up trying this type of manicure! As always you can leave questions down below on this post or over on Instagram @theluxepharmacist.