Here’s why your at-home gel polish sucks

After several frustrating experiences with at-home gel polish kits, I reached out to Kristen Turk, licensed nail technician of Simply Sue’s Nail Spa in Plymouth, MI to get the low down on at-home kits. Here’s what I learned:

Q. Is there a significant difference between at-home formulas and what you use in the salon? 

A. It’s very likely. When your nail technician selects her products, she chooses the appropriate lamp, wattage, and number of bulbs to complement the formula of gel polish she’s using. So if that at-home kit is not paired with an appropriate lamp, or complementing products, it can throw the results off. In addition, it stands to reason that professional lines are held to a higher standard of quality with a more experienced staff of chemists. This seems to be a case of getting what you pay for. Professional nail techs invest significantly in their products – your $50 kit from Target just can’t compare.

Q. O.K., so I have a professional quality kit at home. What’s the best way to improve my manicure?

A. Nail prep is super important! Many people think that by simply pushing back the cuticle, they have prepared the nail. Unfortunately, the part we think if as “cuticle” is actually the eponyuchium.  In fact, the cuticle actually extends along the nail bed. Ideally, it should pushed off the nail, cleaned, nipped,and removed. If the cuticle is left intact, it can be the cause of chipping and lifting.

When it’s time to file, say no to see-saw! The back and forth motion can cause damage to the nails, causing flaking and lifting at the tips. File nails in a singular, smooth direction. Buffing the nail with oil helps remove leftover debris and shine, which helps with polish adhesion.

Next, scrub the nails really well to remove dirt, debris, and oil. This step is vital to getting your polish to stick.

Q: This sounds like a lot of work. Is it worth the cost of doing an at-home gel manicure? If you are really interested in doing your own nails and enjoy it as a hobby, go ahead and purchase a professional kit- but don’t expect that it will save you tons of money in the long run. Every time you want a new color, or run out of base coat/top coat, you’re still going to be buying product (not to mention the high start up cost of professional quality lights and formulas). Also, expect to spend a significant amount of time prepping your own nails and practicing your application technique.

For most of us, the answer is going to a salon to have your nails done. A gel manicure takes time, patience, money, skill, and practice to master. Rather than pour time into learning the craft, book yourself a standing appointment every 2-3 weeks. Relax, enjoy time for yourself, and get a little pampering in. A long lasting gel manicure is worth the trip.

Should you go to a traditional salon or an inexpensive nail shop? Read on to find out!

If you are need of a nail tech in the Metro Detroit Area, feel free to contact:

Kristen Turk at Simply Sue’s Nail Spa

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