The Gel Manicure

After a lot of consideration, I’ve decided it’s time to be girly again, after a very long lapse (like ten years or more).  I also decided that I am artsy-fartsy enough to learn how to do gel manicures on myself at home (something that I read about online, and have seen on a few people I work with).  A gel manicure at the salon costs between $25 and $40, and lasts up to 3 weeks.

I still had some Christmas money left that was burning a hole in my pocket, so I ordered myself a UV light (used for curing gel and shellac nail polishes).  It cost me $30 including shipping on

I went to Sally Beauty Supply, and bought the Gelish (that’s the brand) Basix Kit, which had all the stuff I needed to do a gel manicure, including an actual Gel color of my choice.  I chose ‘Ambience’, and I love it.  It’s pink and sparkly and very understated.  I think this was the perfect choice for a first attempt at this.

Gelish_manicure_2-22-13_1.1_Ambience_first_ever Gelish_manicure_2-22-13_2.1_Ambience_first_ever

I am incredibly hard on my nails, so I honestly wasn’t expecting much as far as endurance for these babies.  After almost 2 weeks, they were still hanging tough, and I did a little gardening without gloves to test their mettle (really it’s because I couldn’t find my gardening gloves).  Gee, I wonder why my manicures don’t last long?!


They made it through my digging in the dirt with flying colors, but two days later I managed to ram one of my fingers into a door frame, and the nail broke and the gel peeled, and the angels cried.  Actually, I don’t know about that last part.  Luckily, Ambience is pale enough that the extreme damage wasn’t too noticeable.  After 2 weeks and 4 days, I decided it was time to remove the Ambience and try something new.  I’ve never had nail polish last so long that it started to ‘grow out’ (where you can see the new bare nail behind the polish).  You can sort of see the ‘grown out’ look in the pictures below.  I can tell you, though, that the gel was as super slick and shiny the day I removed it as it was the day I put it on there.

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To remove the gel, you’re supposed to soak something in Acetone (I used some cut-up cotton face-scrubbing pads), and put them on the nails and wrap your fingertips and the cotton things in Aluminum foil.  I did, and enjoyed the look of my alien fingers for ten minutes while I let them soak.  After the ten minutes was up, I unwrapped them, and the gel scraped off fairly easily.  I scraped it off with my other nails, and it felt a bit like wet sand as it scraped away.


I had ordered 2 new colors – ‘Twinkle’, and ‘Sunrise and the City’.  Twinkle is a clear polish with gold and other-colored glitter in it, and ‘Sunrise and the City’ has smaller, more numerous sparkles.


I decided for my second gel manicure, I’d try something less understated, so I went for ‘Sunrise and the City’.  This color defies description.  It’s sparkly.  That’s really all that’s certain about it.  In indoor low light, it’s sort of salmon-colored.  Outside in the sun, it’s kind of orangey-gold.  Under the CFL bulbs in the house at night, it’s a darker rust color.  I love the way it came out, although it looks completely different on my nails than it did in the bottle.

Gelish_manicure_3-11-13_2.1_Sunrise_and_the_city Gelish_manicure_3-11-13_3.1_Sunrise_and_the_city

Gelish_manicure_3-12-13_2.1_Sunrise_and_the_city Gelish_manicure_3-12-13_1.1_Sunrise_and_the_city

I hate to say it, but GAWD, my hands look old.  *sigh*.

I love this gel polish.  It lasted through more than two weeks of all the usual ‘regular’ polish killers – washing dishes, washing my hair, digging in the dirt, rolling silverware at work, etc.  Normal nail polish usually lasts me a MAXIMUM of two days before it chips and looks horrific.  This is definitely one of the best purchases / learning experiences I’ve had in a long time!

14 Responses to The Gel Manicure

  • If “Sunrise and the City” was the color you were wearing when you visited, it really is attractive. Let us know how long the “treatment” endures.

  • So…when are you going to do my nails? 🙂

  • How much was the starter kit at Sallys? They look great and thank you for sharing! I may give this a try.. typing kills my nail jobs too and the cost of maintaining acrylics or pink and whites just got too much at a salon.

  • Sonja (AKA ‘mom’) – That is the same color, and in 2 days, it will have been on there for 2 weeks. I will probably redo them soon, since I chipped the tip of one.

  • Janet – Didn’t I just do your nails?! He he he. I am going to order a couple more colors sometime soon, and I’d be more than happy to do your nails. 🙂

  • Barb – The starter kit at Sally’s was $49.99, but it is much less online. However, at Sally’s you get to choose your starting color. I’m happy that you’re considering it!

  • Wow, that stuff sounds great. Your nails look really good. Good for you for trying something new and experimenting.

  • “The Angels Cried”. You crack me up Katie. I love your nails – beautiful job!

  • Aunt Marcy – I am still loving it. It’s one of those things that I am super glad that I went out on a limb to try!

  • Hillary – I’m not gonna lie – I crack myself up, too. 🙂 Hope Portland is treating you well!

  • I love the first polish you put on, it was very soft and flattering. I also like the “Sunrise and the City” but I am not sure how well it goes with your skin tone. I would like to see you try some mauve’s and see how well they go with your skin tone. Your nails look great, you are doing a good job with the gel. Love Ya, Nancy

  • Nancy – Thanks! When I put on Sunrise and the City, I was looking for something attention-grabbing, and it seems to have worked! 🙂 I actually usually go for blues and greens, so this is something different. He he he.

  • sweet experiment! I have resorted to just pedicures since polish on my toenails typically lasts longer – but looks like you’re on to something good :-). thanks for sharing

  • Amber – I have just been doing pedicures for a long time, for the same reason. You should give this a try! If nothing else, you can get them done at the salon.

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