Gel up

Manicures using gel based polish are really popular, and when you know what gel polish looks like, it’s usually really easy to spot when someone is wearing it.

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Gel polish is immaculate. It is a thick coat of glossy polish that lasts for weeks and is immune to chipping. The high street alternatives – ‘gel look’ polishes are pretty good, but they don’t last as long as getting gel nail varnish properly manicured by a professional.

I went to a local beautician to have my nails done. I first chose the colour I wanted from an array of fake nails stuck to a long piece of thick clear plastic, which were painted the colour of each polish. I chose ‘passion’, a pink, coral colour from the middle of the palate, which looked summery yet hardwearing at the same time.

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The process was to have your nails filed, then an undercoat applied and set, then two coats of the gel polish, and finally, a clear top coat to finish.

Each coat is set by placing your hand underneath a UV filter. I thought that the UV filter looked a bit like a hole punch, so that you put your fingertips into it underneath the cover, and then touching down on the base of it activated the UV rays to dry the polish.


According to the beautician, one of the elements in the varnish reacts to UV light and sets it, so that it not only dries quickly, the varnish clings to your nails for longer than a normal nail polish would do.

Two coats of varnish were applied, and each time they were set by the UV rays. The colour was a lot brighter than I expected it to be from the sample, but I knew that it would probably fade with time!

The final effect was a very glossy, pristine manicure. My nails also felt a lot stronger because of the thick layer of polish on them.

They were beautifully immaculate for about a week – until the re-growth of my nails began to show and there was a big gap of bare nail between my cuticle and the nail varnish.

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The next sign of destruction to my lovely nails was when the layer of nail varnish started to peel up from the bottom. This kept catching on things, but because it was like a thin plastic, it wasn’t brittle enough to tear off without me picking at it.

Once they had started peeling, I tried to pick bits off to shape them, but it was all downhill from there really! If I hadn’t have been on holiday, I would have removed the polish completely at this stage!

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You are advised to get gel polish professionally removed, but you can remove them yourself with nail varnish remover containing acetate. I tried to do this, but it was very difficult to take off! So I ended up painting over the gel polish with a similar colour and waiting for it to come off itself. I’m not sure if that’s the recommended action to take!

The fact that the nail varnish stays on so well is good and bad, because it stays on in the centre of your nails, but peels off around the edges.

All in all, the nail varnish stayed on for about a week and a half. It would have probably stayed on for longer if I was at home, but I had my nails done before I went on holiday, so I’m sure that the heat and going in the pool sped up the process.

I think I would get my nails done again, but I would need to invest in some proper removal nail varnish containing acetate or go to a beautician to have the varnish soaked off. By the end of my holiday, my nails were a bit of a state, I went from having the best looking nails to the worst!

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