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Gel Manicure: Worth it?

January 6, 2012

I don’t get my nails done very often.  I enjoy the results, but getting them done takes a long time and costs money, and it just isn’t a priority in my life.

In November, this changed.  I went with a friend to try out a gel manicure.  They promised me 2 – 3 weeks of no chip polish for $35 + tip.    The polish selection wasn’t huge, but it was sufficient.  I picked out a dark purple color and they went to work.  The process took about the same time as a usual manicure with several coats and little UV drying lights  in between.  When it was over, the polish was already completely dry.  There was no messing up my nails waiting impatiently for it to dry!

My color lasted exactly two weeks before my first chip, which was pretty amazing.  By the time I got back in to get it removed a few days later, there were several chips and it was looking pretty horrible.   That’s the big drawback – you have to go back in to get it removed.  You can also do it at home if you have acetone, but it was a lot easier just to have them remove it.

Since I was in there anyway, I got another color… then 2.5 weeks later, another color…  It really does look so nice!

However, at ~$40 a pop, I knew it would have to just be a holiday splurge.  I finally went in and just had it removed and old-fashioned nail polish put on.  I couldn’t afford the upkeep, and I didn’t like that I had to come in every 2 weeks if I wanted to maintain it.  I’m just not willing to spend $80/month on my nails.

Are gel manicures worth it?  In my opinion, they are good for a trip or a special occasion.  I would do it again if I had a reason to.  On a regular basis, they are too expensive to keep up with.    Have you tried one?  What do you think?

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica M permalink
    January 6, 2012 6:41 am

    To me, in a profession where I speak in front of people every day and tend to talk with my hands it means I need my nails to consistently look nice. I’m awful at painting my own nails despite tons of practice time and regular polish never lasts more than a few hours without a chip. So gel manicures are very worth it for me.

    When my manicurist uses OPI Axxium products, I tend to get about 3 to 3.5 weeks out of mine without any chips. With Shellac, I can barely get 2 weeks without a chip. But, obviously your nails grow during that time so you can see the grow-out. That’s my main drawback. My manicurist taught me a trick though – use regular nail polish in a matching color to “fill” the gap where your nail has grown out.

    • Jessica M permalink
      January 6, 2012 6:42 am

      BTW, I am HARD on my nails. I spend my weekends volunteering at an animal shelter so I scrape them, they get gnawed on by pups etc.

      • January 6, 2012 3:55 pm

        Maybe I’ll try the OPI Axxium next time. For my special occasion, that is, since I just said it wasn’t worth th ecost for me. 🙂

        I currently have on a 3 day old regular manicure with no chips, so this is like a record for me!

  2. January 6, 2012 8:47 am

    I got my very first gel manicure over Christmas. It was $40 plus tip – which my Mom generously paid for as a Christmas gift! I had it done on Dec 22 (also in a deep purple/almost black color)…it’s been two weeks now and I have ZERO chips! There is only the grow-out, which is slightly annoying but it still looks great and I’m still getting compliments that it looks freshly done. I’m hooked…but I have another reason why it’s great for me: I have a bad habit of biting my nails and this has made me stop! I’ll have to keep them done for a few months and hopefully then I’ll finally break the habit 🙂

    • January 6, 2012 8:50 am

      The manicurist I went to in Seattle used the “Gelish” brand. I’ve also been VERY rough on my nails.

      @Jessica – LOVE the trick about using a nail polish to fill-in the grow out! I actually have the same color that’s already on my nails but hadn’t thought of that 🙂

  3. January 6, 2012 9:00 am

    I used to get mine done when I was in highschool, but it just isn’t something I care about. It was expensive and now that I’m constantly typing, it never lasts for me. I love the way they look, but I have decent hands/nails anyway, and if I’m going to spend that amount of money at this point in my life on anything for my appearance, it will be my hair.

    I would love to be able to afford/have the time to get nails again, though. They’re pretty!

  4. dogatemyfinances permalink
    January 6, 2012 11:34 am

    After I went to the nail salon and the lady next to me obviously had nail fungus. AAAHHH!!

    I bought my own gel lamp for $50 and the bottles are about $15/color plus the top and base coat. It took some trial and error, but I’m as good as the salon now and when I mess up a nail I can just fix it. I’m totally hooked.

    There are tons of videos online, it does take some good cuticle work. I LOVE my nail lamp.

    • January 6, 2012 3:49 pm

      That’s so cool that you did it yourself. I’m a crappy manicurist and have little patience, but it might be something looking into!

    • January 8, 2012 3:11 pm

      PS – how are you?! 🙂 Nice to see you are still around a little bit.

  5. January 6, 2012 12:29 pm

    I never get my nails done. Occasionally I paint them myself, but a lot of the time they’re bare (or just clear polish).

    I don’t really get it. I don’t think painted nails make anyone look more put together — if anything sometimes they look really tacky. I’m also concerned about some of the chemicals in nail polish and those required to get it off (I FREAKED OUT when I got shellac nails and couldn’t remove it with acetone or even dichloromethane — that is just not ok!).

    Maybe I just need to give it another try though

  6. January 6, 2012 3:08 pm

    I got gel manicures when I was in high school. Yes, they look nice, but like you said, the expense of upkeep (including the time involved) was too much for me. Also, they’re just not as functional as my actual nails. (The last time I had a gel manicure, I remember working at CVS and trying to pick the sales stickers off the shelves… Yeah, not only did I chip them but it was really difficult to get those stickers off.)

    I think of fancy manicures like I used to think of highlights in my hair. They’re super nice when someone else is paying, but when it’s coming out of my pocket, it’s just not worth it. (I got highlights one time after going away to college. After that expense – and the subsequent eating from vending machines since I had no money for food – I dyed my natural color and never looked back.)

    • January 6, 2012 3:47 pm

      I didn’t realize they’d been around that long – I hadn’t even heard of them until last year sometime. I didn’t notice any loss of functionality. In fact, I felt they helped strengthen my (naturally quite weak) nails. This might be different than what you are thinking of. These aren’t fake nails, just a different kind of nail polish. Maybe it isn’t a new technique, but I thought it was.

      I’m the same about highlights – I like the look and did them in high school, but there is no way I’m paying for them now!

  7. DeeBee permalink
    January 6, 2012 9:05 pm

    Getting a french gel manicure helped me stretch mine until 3 or 4 weeks. Use a clear polish instead of pink for the base.

    I’ve done it a couple times but given I am a poor graduate student, I realized it really wasn’t in the budget and stopped. It was nice while it lasted!

  8. January 7, 2012 3:35 am

    I’ve heard a lot about gel manicures but never gave it a shot. I think i’m ready to try them this weekend!

  9. January 7, 2012 8:55 pm

    I had my first manicure and pedicure a few weeks before Christmas. My friends were having a party at a nail salon and part of the money went to charity…that’s the only reason I went.

    Overall the experience was night, but I don’t really see the point in spending money on someone painting my nails when I can do it for free.

    I also don’t really see how something as minute as nails can make someone look more put together or not, but maybe because I really don’t pay attention to people’s nails.

  10. January 8, 2012 11:38 am

    I gave up on fingernail polish a long time ago, mostly since it didn’t last and I hate how it looks all chipped.

    However – I will splurge on a pedicure – around her I can get spa pedicure for $10 plus tip – and since I don’t use my toes to wash dishes, it lasts *forever* without ever chipping 😀

    I usually get 6 weeks out of a pedicure, and have stretched it to 8 – although that last week, I’m really aware that my toenails feel too long 😀

  11. January 12, 2012 7:49 am

    I had a gel manicure done once and I had no idea what I was getting into! (A friend needed a model.) Anyway, I am not normally one to get my nails done – when I spend all day at work typing and then the evenings either playing sports or typing, they chip *really* easily.

    I don’t think it’s worth $40 to me – I’d rather pay the $40 for a normal manicure. My main beef with the process was that I felt it was bad for the health of my nails and it was so freaking painful to have removed. Also, it made my nails longer and thicker in strange ways which made every-day life strange and my typing far louder than normal.

    Pedicures on the other hand… I am terrible at cutting my nails and when you pay for a pedicure, someone else cuts them for you! 😉

  12. January 21, 2012 5:22 pm

    It really is worth it to go on Ebay and get a gel manicure kit and a uv lamp for yourself to do it at home. If you want french and don’t have a steady hand get a fine brush, dip it in acetone and neaten the tip with it, just like they do in the salon.
    I always keep a manicure, but I have no time to keep polishing my nails, and salon visits are very expensive. Pure acetone can be obtained at a beauty supply store, and works better thank the stuff they try to sell as “pure acetone” at the drugstores.
    A happy medium is the hard as wraps stuff that Sally Hansen makes. It comes in clear, but really extends the life of your polish. Added pluses are that it is far easier to remove than the uv gel and it does not destroy your nails.

  13. Amber permalink
    January 29, 2012 4:49 pm

    One of my co-workers brought me in a magazine article about a new nail polish by Revlon called “ColorStay” that is a gel-like polish. It’s supposed to last 11 days if you use the ColorStay base and top coat. I bought the base and top coats and a color to test out. It does feel quite a lot like the gel manicures and no chips yet, so I think we might have a winner. The bottles were like $6 and will obviously last a long time. I’m never getting a gel manicure again now — they cost $40 + tip in Kansas City as well! But, like you, I LOVE the way it looks and how long it lasts. So happy there is a DIY gel option available now!

    • January 31, 2012 8:44 am

      Hmmm, I’ll have to check it out! I also have little patience for painting my own nails – but at that price difference, I might be able to get over it!

  14. February 13, 2012 12:18 pm

    here are my nails on day 3! pretty good so far. usually i have several chips after doing dishing/getting ready in the morning, but i am surprised there are no chips so far. doubt it’ll last 2 weeks though….but for 4 dollars a bottle, i’m sold.

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