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Gel Manicure: Worth the cost?

Gel manicures are extremely popular, and when I asked friends and readers all were eager to share the benefits of the process. Many claimed it lasted two to three weeks, and nearly everyone agree the gel finish meant that chipping was minimal.

Most friends I spoke to said it wasn’t worth it all the time, but that for special events or vacations gel manicures far outlast regular manicures.

To start let’s talk nail care. I don’t regularly get manicures and pedicures because the cost is prohibitive. I didn’t even have my first mani/pedi until my sister was married (that means I didn’t for my own wedding either).

Many nail aficionados and readers have extolled the benefits of home manicures and pedicures for cost-savings. Personally I have no knack for it. My nails come out looking like a 5 year old painted them, so normally I go all-natural and simply trim and file my nails. I get pedicures a few times a year (you can find Local Spa Deals 50% off or more on Groupon typically) just to keep the ick off my feet.

Occasionally I get my nails done for conferences, or just for a fun day of pampering. However, it’s not a regular cost I would add to my budget, especially given my lifestyle. Dishes three times a day hardly make nail polish care simple.

When I was prepping for our trip to DisneyWorld for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration I knew I needed a pedicure (my feet have been in boots all winter!) and thought it would be fun to try a gel manicure to see what all the fuss was about. With packing and managing kids I thought it would be a great test of how long gel polish can last.

What’s a gel manicure?
Gel manicures are harder and tougher than regular polish. Available in limited colors (my salon had about 15) the manicurist trims and files your nails like a typical manicure. Next he or she will apply one coat of the gel nail polish. The gel polish is dried under a UV light for a minute or two repeating two to three times.

My manicurist applied polish to my pinky, ring, and middle finger and placed those under the light before moving on to my index finger and thumb. She repeated the process on my other hand and then again for a second coat. Finally she touched up areas that needed it, and I was all set! No waiting to dry.

The gel polish is meant to last two weeks (or more) and you pay more for gel manicures because of this unique feature.

Here is my gel manicure on Day One.Gel Manicure Day One

How much is it?

I didn’t have any discounts, Groupons, etc. so I paid full price $45 plus tip. Prices vary widely even in my area, but look for a reputable nail salon with great ratings from customers.

Health Concerns?
There have been concerns raised over gel manicures in terms of the UV light exposure, the application process, and more. The main concerns are: concerns about skin cancer risk from the UV lights, damage to nail beds, and nail infections. I found conflicting opinions on both, but I think it’s safe to say that you should proceed with caution, and it shouldn’t be a regular thing until more is known about the health concerns.

Gel Polish Removal
Getting the polish off isn’t as simple as a regular manicure, and there have been concerns that it can damage your nails if it’s not done properly. I have yet to take it off, but I’m debating the DIY approach versus heading back to the salon to get a professional to take off my polish.

Is Gel Polish Worth the Cost?
Gel Manicure Day 9

I’m now on day 9 of my manicure and I can safely say it wasn’t worth the cost for me. My nails grow extremely fast so the gap under the polish is too obvious. While the tops and most edges have held up under all the luggage carting, hand-holding, typing, ticket-swiping, swimming, and more that I’ve done I’d prefer the regular polish since I could have removed it 6 days ago.

The verdict?
While I prefer painted nails, chipping is a problem for me. It often happens the say I get a manicure! I am terrible at DIY manicures, so I think I’ll stick to au natural most of the time and the occasional (regular) manicure when it’s necessary. After all I can always get my girls to do touch-ups for me since they do a better job at manicures than I do!

I’ve found two ways that I can make a gel manicure work for me-using neutral polish so the growth is not as obvious and utilizing a home gel manicure kit.

What’s your take? Are you a DIY mani-er? Do you love gel polish? Do you prefer all natural nails?