I love a good mani/pedi as much as the next girl, but let’s be honest, the traditional kind doesn’t provide the greatest return on investment. After shelling out more than you’d pay for your very own nail kit, you’re left with chipped polish after just a week. And what busy beauty maven has time to hightail it to a salon or apply a fresh coat that often, let alone wait around at the salon for the polish to dry?

Well, the beauty industry hasn’t been ignoring our cries. In fact, they’ve come up with a brilliant solution: nail gels. Nail gels are quick, chip resistant, and good for your nails. Yep – they won’t damage your little claws like acrylics. And they’re ideal for moms, since our nail polish chips so easily from all the dishwashing, kid-bathing, and cooking we do everyday.

But here’s what really sells me on nail gels – they dry instantly. That means no waiting around for your nails to dry if you have to get back to work or pick up the kids. And when you get your toes done, you don’t have to parade around in those embarrassing paper flip-flops. You can just slide your newly polished toes right into your flats, heels, or even boots. It really is a time-saver.

All that said, this is not a DIY project, so you’ll need to pop into your local salon. Here’s a quick rundown of what your manicurist will do when you get nail gels:

  • Apply a base coat
  • Dry your digits under a UV dryer for around 10 seconds
  • Paint on your first coat of gel polish
  • Put your hands back under the dryer for about two minutes
  • Apply another coat of gel polish
  • A few more minutes under the dryer…
  • Apply a topcoat
  • One last stop under the dryer


Voila! Perfectly polished nails that won’t chip – at least for a few weeks. But don’t run out to that random salon up the street. As with any beauty treatment, there are some tricks of the trade to be learned, and it’s essential to research before you buy.

Here are some insider tips to consider:

Pick Your Polish Wisely. A gel manicure can last up to three weeks, so find a color you can stay committed to.

For Low Maintenance, Keep It Light. Gel manicures will inevitably grow out, so if your nails happen to grow quickly (or you’re very short on time) then you might want to opt for a lighter polish hue. This will disguise the growth and require less upkeep.

Don’t Get Picky. Avoid picking and peeling your polish! Doing so could ruin your nail bed (and it just looks yucky). Instead, get the polish removed by a professional. If you don’t pick off your polish the gels will actually make your nails healthier because they reinforce thin nails.

Be Still, My Child. When you have your hand under the UV light, do not move it or pull it out, or the polish will end up with chunky rifts. Not pretty.

Yelp it. Like any other beauty treatment, you’re best off going to a highly rated salon. Ask a trusted friend to recommend a place, or if you’re the nail gel pioneer in your posse, turn to total strangers who’ve been there, done that, and written about it on Yelp.

Bring your friends; bring your kids. Although of course my kids don’t wear gels, they love coming to the salon and getting a mani/pedi. Even Liam loves getting navy blue/red “Spiderman Toes”. Invite your boyfriend or hubby to come along as well – the more the merrier!

Have you tried nail gels? What do you think?

Photos: WeHeartIt
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