Gel Manicures/Love Letter/Contest Reminder

Let's talk about gel manicures, since y'all seem to be curious or want to talk about them or whatever.


Okay, so I started doing gel manicures on myself, like, 2 years ago or something.  I heard people chattering about them, and was intrigued/skeptical.  The snag for me, initially, was that it seemed to be a salon service, and I just really don't like people touching me.  I will get haircuts, but I don't want to go get a manicure or pedicure or a massage or any of those things where someone is touching on my body parts.

At the time, there seemed to be 2 options in terms of gel polish: Shellac and Gelish.  I chose to get a setup to do Gelish because they had way more colors, and way better colors (at least at that time.)  At first I got a big old school UV light, in case I hated it, because the little LED lights were way more expensive.  Once I decided I liked gel polish, I got the LED light, and it actually was a good move on my part because by time I was ready to get the LED, it was way cheaper than it was initially.

My 3 day old gel manicure.  This is pretty impressive because I am brutal on my hands.
They still look like perfect little Chiclets!
I used Gelish Red Roses (plain red) and Good Gossip (red glitter.)

SO!  Gel manicures.  Here's how I do them (actually, how anybody would do them, since I just follow the instructions.)

1. Do my cuticles and file my nails and all that.  Basically the same as the first step in a regular manicure.
2. Clean my nail plate with the special cleanser stuff, which is basically isopropyl alcohol.
3. Put the pH Bond stuff on.  Again, I am pretty sure this is just isopropyl alcohol.  They just want you to dry the hell out of your nails so there isn't any lotion or greasy stuff that will make the gel lift or chip.
4. Put the Foundation on.  This is like the gel polish base coat.  You use as little as humanly possible... seriously, you wipe the brush on the neck of the bottle until you get all the Foundation off, then what is left on the brush is enough to do ALL of your nails.  Just scrub it on.  Put your hand under the light and cure it.  Get a little lint-free wiper and wipe your nails off.  Theoretically, you don't have to cure this coat as long, but I always do it for the full time because it is like 30 seconds or something and I am too dumb to time it myself.  Maybe it makes something terrible happen, but I haven't noticed so I will remain willfully ignorant.
5. Do a coat of Structure.  This is an optional step.  Structure is a thick gel that you apply with a nail art brush or something similar.  Then you cure it and it makes your nails a little thicker and harder, and my nails are neither thick nor hard, so I like to use this.  Wipe this layer with a lint-free wiper, too.  Don't wipe layers that come after this one.
6. Paint on some gel polish.  Basically, you do a coat, cure it, and repeat until you have the coverage you want.  Some colors take a lot of coats, some don't.  Paint, cure, paint, cure, etc etc, off into the sunset.
7. Slap on some Top It Off, which is the gel topcoat.  Cure it.  Then you get that cleanser stuff you used in step one, put it on a wipey thing, and wipe all your nails off.  When the polish is curing, the UV light makes it react with itself.  The top layer of polish molecules are in contact with the air, so they don't cure, and it leaves a sticky film behind and the nail cleanser (or isopropyl alcohol, let's not front like it makes a difference) gets the sticky all off and then your nails are totally done.

REMOVAL:  You get a super gritty file and file the surface of your nail to scratch up the topcoat all over, then do the acetone/cottonball/foil thing for 10-15 minutes.  It all comes off in a big flake.  If it doesn't, you let it soak longer because digging it off will basically ruin your nails and you'll hate it.  There are a couple Gelish steps that I think can be done with alcohol (nail cleaning, wiping off the sticky) but I have found that their remover works a little better than plain acetone.

Now, I am sure that other brands might have different products that do similar things, and that is fine.  Use whatever you want.  I started using Gelish, and I still use it because that is what I have and it works, and it's a salon-style product, so I assume it might work a little better than the mass-market stuff that is popping up all over.  I did try the Sally Hansen Gel Strip things, and they suuuuuuucked. 

OKAY! So, Pros and Cons of gel manicures:

PROS: It lasts forever.  It's way mega shiny.  Once you are done, your nails are done and you can't ding them up trying to pee before your nails are dry.  It's awesome if you do a lot of stuff with your hands or are rough on them in general.  It reinforces your nails, so if they are soft and don't like to grow, it makes your nails real hard and you can get them longer than you would otherwise.

CONS: It's kind of a fussy process putting it on.  If you get a bubble or something, it is there for a week or two and it will drive you completely mad.  Removal is kind of a pain in the ass.  You can see growth along your cuticle edge, the same way you can with acrylic nails.  The biggest con for me is that it is boring... I like painting my nails and having the same nails for 2 weeks is depressing, and you don't want to do a crazy color if it is going to be on forever, because sometimes crazy colors just don't look that great with what you're wearing/where you're going.  I know you can paint over gel manicures and remove with non-acetone remover, but still.  Also, the UV light is theoretically bad for you, but you can get UV gloves and put a little sunscreen on your skin beforehand and do your thing.

As far as price goes, you can get a light for around $50, a kit of the basecoat/topcoat/cleanser/remover for $30, a tub of structure for $10, and polishes for $10 (on Amazon, elsewhere they are pricy for whatever reason.)  So, for $100ish you can have your own rig, which is pretty expensive.  BUT, if you like gel manicures, you'll recoup the cost by doing your nails 2-3 times if you usually go to the salon to get them done.  

In closing, I think gel manicures are pretty nice if you have a lot going on, and you don't have time to keep your nails nice.  It is a little fussy, but it is not much effort if you consider that you won't have to do your nails again for a long time.  It's not going to eat you out or anything, but it is a good thing to be able to do if you're a nailpolish person.


Dear Spanx Leggings

I love you.  You are my #1 favorite thing to wear when I am just bumming around, and sometimes I will wear you under a dress or tunic if I am going somewhere.  You are very versatile.

I love that you seem to have some kind of vanity sizing going on.  I think next time I need to buy a pair of you, I will get a medium.  Wearing size medium pants is an ego boost, even if it's Spanx.

You make me look like I might actually have some muscle tone, instead of looking like I am a tub of flan, which is how I usually look.  Even better, you are like Spanx that go from my ankle to the band of my bra, so I do not have flan spilling out and ruining the illusion of being marginally un-flabby.  I know I am optimistic thinking you make me look fit, I am sure my legs just look like kielbasa, but still.  That's still better than hella flabby.

You are really black, and matte.  I like this because shiny kielbasa legs seem like they would be a bad look.

The only thing I do not like about you is that you are kind of expensive.  Also, if I am not careful to make sure to hike the crotch all the way up to my crotch, sometimes that area will wear out.  I'm not gonna lie, though, sometimes I wear you even when you start getting a hole in the crotch.  I don't sit around with my legs spread like I'm waiting for an airplane (I'm a lady!) so I don't think it really matters.  The crotch hole can just be our little secret.

Love, Natalie


Don't forget the contest!  I got a MILLION BILLION entries so far!  I have to say, there are some mega-cute ladies who read this site.  Well done, ladies.

If you want to enter and maybe win a Naked Palette, Black Honey lip thinger, and 2 bottles of my nail polish, or a Naked Basics Palette, Black Honey lip thinger and 1 bottle of my polish, make sure to enter by February 14th!!  Send me a pic of your mug, a list of what you're wearing on your face, and your mailing address... Send emails to nataliedee@nataliedee.com, and put CONTEST in the subject because I am a moron with a short attention span and I would hate to lose your entry because I glazed over and didn't see it in my inbox full of Ulta spam.  Yeah!  Let's do this!


  1. I really want to wear leggings as pants...I just don't have the courage to take them out in public. Can you see through the Spanx variety?

    1. not really. maybe you could see through them if you got some that were too small. i wear them as pants, but i usually wear a huge pullover hoodie or something that hits mid-thigh, so it's not like my butt is hanging out. i just like them in the winter, especially, because they fit right in my galoshes. regular pants just get in the way when i have to wear rubber boots.

    2. You hat me at "they fit right in boots." Seriously. Montana... winter... never been a fan of skinny jeans... trying to shove normal-style pants excess leg material into boots... it suuucks. Gonna buy some Spanx Leggings! :D

    3. yah, in ohio it just swings from freezing and snow, to warming up and turning everything to slush, and back again. i have two pairs of galoshes and it's all i wear when i go anywhere. these slide right in, even my super-tall hunter galoshes that hit my knee. also, if it is super cold you can layer legwarmers and stuff over them. i've even worn gym shorts over them with some metal tshirt when i feel like dressing like an asshole.

    4. You should try Bogs galoshes. They're neoprene so they're a lot more breathable than the rubber variety. They come in really cute colors and prints too!

    5. To bad I'm prego and can't wear spanks right now, Pennsylvania winter is all moooshy to. Do they get very warm or clammy feeling? I think I would like to try them after baby as I am totally addicted to the pants up to my boobs coverage I'm getting with maternity wear, but I don't want to be sweating from my boobs down all summer.

    6. Today I learned I achieve the asshole look quite frequently.

    7. they got maternity spanx leggings, they're the diffusion line... assets or whatever they're called. i've heard people dogging on spanx when you're pregnant, but they were seriously the only thing that would help my back hurting all the time. thank god i am done with that business :(

    8. @scotee, it's a legitimate look. i go full asshole 85% of the time.

  2. Thanks for the info on the gel manicures. I have considered buying a starter kit but I am really on the fence. I think I would enjoy the nice finish and the nails not chipping for two weeks, but the removal process sounds like a huge pain. Like to the point to where it may not be worth it.

    This is off topic of this post, but can I mention that I got my mind blown today? I order the "Robster" T-Shirt from Sharing Machine on Friday and it is out for delivery TODAY already and I live in the middle of nowhere and am lucky if I get half the things sent to me most times. I am shocked in a good way, kudos to whomever handles your fulfillment/shipping. The shirt is for my son whose name is Rob, I am sure he will dig it.

    1. hell yeah, i'm glad it showed up so fast! our warehouse rules. i'm always happy to hear they're on the ball.

  3. I totally feel the "ugh my gel nails are now boring me after three days" thing, but let me share the only color i've had in a gel manicure: http://www.uvnailpolish.com/products/Mood-Gel-Polish-Midnight-Pearl.html?gclid=CK3Gq5Xzi7UCFQ2i4AodIhkAqg

    IT CHANGES COLORS. It's mood polish that was bright purple and hot pink when your fingers are cold or hot, respectively. I had it around Xmas and was ridiculously entertaining. (Possibly because when I was four I had a Hot Wheels car that did the same thing. )

  4. After reading that post, I bought some Clinique Black Honey shit. I like it. It feels like lip balm, instead of lipstick, which is preferable to me. It adds color, but it still somewhat sheer so it looks more natural than lipstick. Works great for those of us who like a pretty natural look.

  5. Two questions for you, Natalie:

    1) Am I reading that correctly that each nail must be soaked (or held up against a saturated cotton ball) in remover for 10-15 minutes?

    2) I've heard the gel nail polish can make your nails thinner over time. The manicure makes your nails thicker while it's on but looking at your natural nails, have you found that to be the case over the past 2 years?

    1. 1. yes. i do one hand at a time w/the foil method. it sounds extreme, but that is also how i remove especially tenacious glitter polish, so it's not like i wouldn't still be soaking my nails that long if i stopped doing gel manicures.

      2. gel polish can really mess your nails up if you don't remove it right. if you soak and there is still polish stuck and you shove it off with an orange stick, it will really wreck your shit. when i am carefull to soak it off all the way so it all comes off without me having to do anything, my nails are fine. my nails are probably in better shape than they were 2 years ago (just from taking better care of them for an additional 2 years) but i don't do gel manicures super often. if it is just an occasional thing it's fine... i am sure that if you have a gel manicure at all times and remove one and put another on immediately, it would probably be really bad for your nails from the acetone and chemicals and from your nail never being able to get oxygen. i basically only do them every month or two, and sometimes will go quite a while without. it's more a thing i do when i don't have time to do my nails or if i'm traveling or something.

  6. Couture has a kit that comes with a light, three colors of your choice, a base coat, a top coat, a carrying case, and a nail care kit for $129. They have really super cute colors including french manicures, neons and glitters! That's the kit I've had my eye on for a while. You can also buy individual colors from them. They're really good quality too, I follow them on facebook and everyone posts how much they love their polishes.

  7. i bought a kit from Red Carpet Manicure less than $80, or $50 for the portable light. comes with one polish, and everything you need. lasts 2 weeks.

  8. I want to try the gels since I basically chip my nails within 20 minutes of leaving the salon. Buuut, so expensive. We'll see :)

  9. Gel manicures are awesome if you work with your hands a lot. I work in the restaurant business, and even wearing gloves regular nail polish wouldn't make it past the first half hour of my shift from washing my hands so much. The Gels still don't last as long as they would for someone who's hands aren't constantly immersed in goo, but they at least look nice for a week!

  10. Gels last so long for me, that I actually end up getting annoyed by the length of my nails before they even chip. I have noticed if the gel is applied too quickly after the foundation, the gel will actually wrinkle and harden, and if you're a perfectionist like I am, you'll have to start the process over and it's a pain in the ass... so I actually like to wait a little more than is necessary in between each step. Also, I've played around with a lot of the super black's over gel manicures, and those always end up receiving the most compliments.

  11. I've been using Revlon's Color Stay polish and depending on the color, it lasts about 2 weeks (the darker colors seem to chip more for some reason)... I use acetone to take it off, but I don't need to "cure" it. My only complaint is that I have to do my nails in the morning - It dries enough for normal activity pretty quickly, but I sleep on my hands and it ruins my nails if they haven't dried for at least 5 hours.

  12. this is 100% a shot in the dark, but i am looking to combo the same light to do gel manicures and expose photo emulsion on silkscreens? i do alot of screenprinting which leads to my nails being effed up all the time. they are both uv lights right? will it cure my depression from living in a place where it rains like 6 mos./year?

  13. You can leave the ph bond stuff off and the gel will be WAY easier to remove. It still lasts ~a week for me. I use regular nail polish base coat in place of it, and it works like a charm!

    I've been doing gel for a year or so and my nails are in much better shape than they were when I started. Much less tearing and peeling.

    I'm really excited that lots of brands are coming out with UV gels that play well with the others. I just tried out the Sally Hansen set (and light) and it works well with all the Gelish and SensatioNail stuff I have.

  14. Thank you for the post.Personally, I love gel polish kit. It lasts 3-4 weeks without chipping. I've got one of the gel polish kit at Runway Professional. Its really nice and perfect for me. I strongly recommend checking them out.

    Cindy xoxo

  15. great post thanks for sharing.