Monday, 13 August 2012

Shellac: Review

For the past two years, I have gone on an annual summer camping trip. It is important for you to know that I was never a camping-type girl (as I'm sure you can all assume from this blog where I write about doing my nails every other day...ha!). In fact, I found a funny poem the other day in a box of old stuff. I used to go to french rock-climbing camp (yeah) and they made us go on this thing called "expe" where we would canoe somewhere and portage a lot and camp somewhere and eat gross food. Needless to say, I hated it. Check out this little ditty I wrote:

Notice the underlined words "wet" and "cold". And the failed poem at the top that I scratched out. Yeah, I wasn't too stoked. 

Get me out of this tent please
Get me home to my bed
Buy me a bath and a nice hote[sic] (I definitely meant hotel)
If we don't leave here I'll freack[sic] out 4 real
There's a root sticking in my back bone
This tent's real wet and real cold
So let's go go get out here
Cause I wanna go home

Now, all of a sudden, I LOVE camping. No phones, no computers, no alarms, no makeup...the list goes on. Living every day according to the light-dark cycle, eating food you cook on a fire (it always tastes better) - is awesome. Also, the camping spot we go to is a good 25 minute hike from where you can park so you really have to seriously consider what is worth carrying and what is not. And, unfortunately, nail polish is not.

So, this year, I decided to do a shellac for my week-long camping trip. Not necessarily because I want my nails to "look nice", but because I figured it would strengthen them and prevent breakage. I don't know about you guys, but one of my major pet peeves is when my nails break and are scraggly and get caught on everything and potentially could rip down further (ow!). Plus, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to really put a shellac manicure to the test. So, I went to Nice One Nails here in Ottawa and got a shellac. I opted for a coral-y pink colour because, who are we kidding, I can never turn that colour down. 

For those of you who don't know exactly what a shellac manicure is, I will give you the low down. Basically, it is the same as a regular manicure (base coat, two coats of colour, top coat) but the polish they use is different because it is cured by a UV lamp. In between each coat, your hand sits in a little UV lamp like this:

...and dries (very fast) while the manicurist paints your other hand. Shellac manicures usually range in cost between $25.00 and $40.00. This includes all the prep work the manicurist does (cutting, filing, cuticles, etc). However, I prefer to do this myself (never ever ever cut your cuticles!!!!) and, at Nice one Nails, just a shellac (no prep work) is only $20.00! Totally affordable. So I advise you to file your own nails, push your cuticles back, and then pop in for the shellac part. The end result is a manicure that is instantly dry and is said to last at least 14 days without chipping, smudging, pealing or cracking. Well, we will see, won't we?

This is what my shellac looked like the day after it was done: 

Not bad! (You can already see the camping dirt accumulating, however!) There is no chipping and the manicurist did a good job near the cuticles (ie. nail polish should always stay about 1-2mm away from your cuticles. If the polish touches your cuticles, when your nails grow, a 3D ridge of polish will appear when space increases between the polish and the cuticle. Not a good look. And very tempting to pick.)

The shellac did a great job throughout the camping trip. My nails did not break! Wohoo!

This is what it looked like about 1.5 weeks after it was done (12 days).

 Left hand
Right hand

Yes, I had also been painting some furniture turquoise (if you noticed!). So, let's see. Yes, you can see the polish growing out but that is not a huge problem. There is definitely chipping and I noticed a fair amount of cracking on my nails (you can see cracks in the polish where dirt has settled in. Gross). And the ring finger on my left hand was starting to peel up from the nail so I, of course, picked at it (bad - I know!). 

Now, let's talk about the removal process. If you go into the salon, they soak your hand in a little bowl of acetone and then scrape the polish off with a metal cuticle pusher (or something like that). Most of the polish usually comes off easily, but there is definitely a possibility for some serious scraping on your nail. You can also do this process at home. Personally, I use the "glitter removal method" but with 100% acetone instead of regular nail polish remover. This prevents a lot of the possible scraping. You can buy the acetone at most pharmacies. Now, acetone is pretty rough. Your nails are not going to shrivel up and die, but you will notice that your nails, cuticles, and finger tips will be dried out as a result of this process. Definitely not the best for you, but not the end of the world either. 

My general view on shellac follows: if you aren't too picky about your nails and plan on spending about $40-50 a month on manicures, this is definitely for you. Or, if you are going on a trip, this is definitely the hassle free way to go. If you are trying to grow your nails out (and are trying to avoid breakage), a shellac will also work. However, if you are like me and notice imperfections in your nails and want to fix them, this is not the way to go. The removal process is too time consuming and annoying to do unless you really have to.

Have you tried shellac? 
Ps. Look at me...I'm camping! (My 12 year old self is P.O'ed)

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