For the past few years I've been an avid fan of gel varnish, what's not to love? Colour that stays put until you take it off, a high variety of shades and glitters to choose from, nail art to let your imagination run wild and of course the biggie, no drying time. Gel nails have never been so popular as they are now, with almost every nail brand bringing out their own range. So as I said what's not to love?
Well if you saw the state of my nails today, you'd probably be rather shocked. Having picked away the last few gel polishes (acetone is time consuming and it stinks), it's left my nails in quite frankly a complete and utter fragile mess.
Shockingly, when I removed my toe nail gels (having been on for nearly a month), 2 of my nails lifted completely from the bottom of my cuticle bed - hence panic as I'm trying to locate Steristrip Plasters to protect the nails from completely coming off (albeit as both are lifting from the nail bed there's not much hope there).
If you're nails are dry, brittle, breaking and thin from all the over-filing, UV/LED light, polish and general wear and tear, check out these tips!
- When removing gel nails, never pick as I do. I've recently tested the new elliona Gel Off, a brilliant innovative gel remover, without acetone to gently lift of colour. (Check out my review below).
- Always remove gel polish after 2 weeks, the longer you leave it on the harder it becomes to remove.
- Give nails a break from any gels or acrylics at least one week per month. In fact expert nail technicians and dermatologists suggest only applying twice a year!
- During this time treat nails to a strengthening treatment, and regularly massage oil into the nail bed. You can buy specific oils but I keep a huge jar of Coconut Oil next to my sink and bed, and just massage a dollop in twice a day.
- Always wear gloves to protect nails from harsh detergents when doing the cleaning etc.
- Personally I avoid any salon, which chooses to use harsh drills etc to file nails - these often damage the nail beds and can cause injury to the cuticles before any polish is applied.
- Always choose a reputable salon to have your nails done. There is no legal requirement at present to have qualifications or health & safety certificates to be a manicurist. Always check the hygiene levels too as cross-contamination can cause a variety of skin disease such as fungal infections.
- UV light as it does with skin, can raise the risk of skin cancer - yes you can get cancer under the nail bed.
- When choosing a strengthening treatment look for products, which contain protein (Keratin) and calcium to bond the nail layers so they make them tougher.
- Supplements again can help speed up the process of strengthening both nails and hair (again look for Keratin).
However, the most important step is removal of nails. I was sent the new elliona Gel Off to test. This gel sits on the nail bed and unlike acetone doesn't sink into the skin. It's being hailed as the safe method for removing gel, and lessens the likelihood of dermatitis and skin sensitivity like other methods.
It was simple to use, but did take a few trial and errors to get maximum benefit. Firstly with a nail buffer, gently buff the nail gel colour to take off the sheen. Then apply a small amount of the nail gel directly to the nail, ensuring the whole nail is covered. Wait about 45 seconds until the gel goes slightly cloudy, and then removing with the remover tool (elliona have their own elliona Gel Polish Remover Tool, or you can use a wooden hoof stick), gently push the colour away. I was left with some colour on my nails, but not much and this can be buffed gently off.
The elliona Gel Off is available for £4.75 from www.tesco.com and QVC.
I also have been testing the new Leighton Denny Bio-Build Shield Kit for weak and fragile nails. This was an answer to prayer and already my nails are thanking me for applying just a couple of coats a week. The system contains a polish remover, which preps the nails without drying or damaging the nail plate; a serum treatment to help strengthen the nail beds and combat dehydrated and dry nails and finally a base coat that can be worn under nail colour or alone to seal in the serum. The unique ingredients contain a complex of Bio-Active glass for strengthening, Argon Oil to help thicken nails and Sumatron Benzoin again to help nourish and give a healthy appearance.
The Leighton Denny Build Shield Kit costs £23.50 and is available from www.leightondennyexpertnails.com
As I mentioned earlier, I'm giving my nails a break from gel-nails and so have since had to resort to wearing normal nail varnish. Now I admit I can't stand the upkeep of nails smudging etc however, on my toes I've been painting them with Toma nail colours. I love the huge range of metallic spring colours on offer, and as nail varnish is easily removed I can swap as my mood dictates accordingly (usually changes with the weather). I love the Toma range as you will see from the website, that the colours are pigmented to a high metallic sheen, look ultra classy and incredibly pretty in an array of pinks and deep mauves, ideal for spring and summer
You can buy Toma from www.madbeauty.co.uk £7.50
On my toes today, I'm wearing Crystal by Joan Collins Timeless Beauty. I've tested a couple of the shades before and like how the brush easily coats the nail with one swipe, and you only need one application for solid colour. The deep red is perfect for holiday toes and with a tan, but also is a colour that suits all skin tones from pale to dark. It's worth mentioning that the 'pearl glitter' polish in this range is the best I've tested (and I've tested many), as it leaves any colour with a slight iridescence rather than full on glitter and ideal for transforming any shade into a sparkling, eye-catching colour.
Check out the full range at www.joancollinsbeauty.com £13.50
If you're heading out for the evening, or want to simply inject some fun without the commitment acrylics have, check out House of Hollands new range from Elegant Touch. Choose from this seasons gingham pattern, nudes or grungy metallic foils. Treated with care they can last up to 10 days (my daughters tested these and on day 3 there's been no pinging off) and come provided with the glue. My favourites are definitely the Foil Fade, an eye-catching graduated nail with a spectrum of dark teal, navy edging towards a deep, shimmering magenta. You can also purchase 'Nail Guards' that prevent nail damage and make removal easier (note I haven't tested these).
With many styles to choose from, and for every occasion you'll be spoilt for choice, and an easy way to update to this seasons trends. Check them out at www.eleganttouch.com. Prices from £8.50.