Nails

C17: Day 139 – Oh, what a palette

by Suw on May 19, 2017

Gelish, the DIY gel nail polish system that I use, has a fabulous array of colours. Some 233 of them, to be precise. All listed with colour swatches on one page.

You’d think that that would make it easy to pick colours, but whilst it’s easy to see colours that you like the look of, how they look on screen and how they look in reality are not necessarily the same. That’s just how it is with digital representations of real objects – colour fidelity is basically impossible because of variations in the colour profile of computer screens.

That has meant that it’s quite hard to mix and match colours. The trend at the moment is to wear a variety of complementary colours on different nails, as you’ll see from this Pinterest page. It might be one highlight colour, or a mixture of three or even four different colours, but without having all the options there in front of you, it’s impossible to know how well colours will go together.

This is where Gelish is missing a trick. Instead of a page of colours in a random order, they should provide palette suggestions, grouping colours that work harmoniously together. It would also be useful for them to pair their glitters with matching solids. I have a lovely green glitter, Are You Feeling It?, for example, but it really needs a green solid to go underneath it. But which one? The green I have is too olive, so which of the other greens should I choose?

I wish I had a full swatch of colours to check which ones work together, but instead it’s a process of trial and error. What I can say is that Plum And Done works well with a top layer of pink sparkle June Bride (right), but that it doesn’t work as well with the golden Oh, What A Knight! as I had hoped. However, June Bride over Oh, What A Knight! produces a fabulous sparkly rose gold colour. Rule the Runway wasn’t as tan I was expecting – it’s more of a flat grey – and whilst it isn’t a bad match for Johnny Green (which they seem to have discontinued anyway), it isn’t great. Wiggle Fingers Wiggle Thumbs – That’s The Way The Magic Comes is a glorious metallic blue that I could see myself wearing a lot, maybe even with a coat of green Are You Feeling It? sparkle over the time.

Part of the problem here is that I’m only doing my nails every 2 to 3 weeks which means that it takes a long time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Gelish does have some collections, like the One Upon A Time collection, though you’d never know it from their website. They really could do a lot better at producing complementary palettes, especially as if people know what colours will work together, they’ll be more likely to expand their collections.

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As I’ve already confessed mentioned, I recently started using the Gelish “soak-off” gel nail polish system, and overall I’m happy with it. There is just one massive downside though: It’s a bastard to get the polish off. Although I’ve only been doing this a few months, and I’m only changing colour about every 1-2 weeks, I’ve already spotted a few trends.

Firstly, the entire internet thinks it takes 15 minutes to remove UV-hardened nail varnish, and that is an outright lie. I have not had one single experience where it’s been that quick. Indeed, last night it took an hour and a half to get the nail varnish off, and this is using the same technique everyone raves about, which is soaking a cotton pad in remover and wrapping foil around one’s fingertip. (I’m actually using a commercial version of this, because I wanted the acetone-resistant dropper it came with, but still, same technique.)

But there’s a definite hierarchy to Gelish polishes, in terms of how easy they are to remove:

  1. Least slow: Plain colour, like Rule The Runway.
  2. Medium slow: Metallic colours, like Oh, What A Knight!
  3. Really fucking slow: Glitter colours, like Are You Feeling It?

Now, part of the reason that Are You Feeling It might have been slow is that I had to put on four coats to get anything like decent coverage. But the benefits of so many coats was also that it made my nails quite stiff, which mean no bending or chipping. However, my other glittery polishes were also bastards to get off, so I don’t think it’s just about how many coats you do.

There is one way to make it easier to get gel polishes off, and that’s to use something like the Dashing Diva Nail Guard – a stick-on under-layer that dissolves relatively easy in acetone. The problem with the nail guard is firstly that it’s hard to put on smoothly, but mostly that it comes off a bit too easily, so instead of a two week manicure, you’re lucky if it lasts a week. Given that a week is a bit better than the day that normal nail varnish lasts me, I guess that’s not bad. but it’s not as good as the two to three weeks a Gelish application should last.

Now, there’s every possibility that I’m missing a trick here, and if I am, I really, really want to know what it is. I will continue to experiment, and will report back. If slowly.

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If Teen Vogue has taught me anything, it’s that girls and women can care about politics and having nice nails. Enjoying dying your hair or fashion or having nice nails is not a sign of intellectual poverty, it’s a sign of being a normal human being.

Now, last year, for Ada Lovelace Day, I wanted nice nails but didn’t have time to get a manicure, so I cheated. I bought some stick-on nails and, whilst they looked fantastic at the time, the seal to the nail wasn’t all that tight and my hair would get caught underneath them. So just a few days later, I prised them off and, well, ripped the top layer of nail off with them. My nails were, not to put too fine a point on it, fucked.

For the next few months, I used other stick-on nails, though I was much more careful about removing them. But come February, I was fed up of falsies so I invested in a Gelish DIY gel kit and am slowly learning my way round it.

These so-called “soak off” nail polishes are cured by narrow-band LED UV lights, and they cure hard. Really hard. Which means that they are much more durable than air-dried nail varnishes. That’s great, because my nails are weak and bendy, and normal nail varnishes begin to peel off within a day. Or less.

Gelish is just one of many brands, but it got the best reviews so that’s what I plumped for. So far, I’m relatively happy, but there are tricks one needs to learn in order to get the best out of it.

The kit came with a light, nail prep (“ph Bond”), base coat, five colours, top coat, nail cleanser and gel remover. The colours were a bit disappointing – three pinks (one sparkly transparent), a forest green and a plum. I’m not a fan of pink, so getting three was annoying. My first attempt at doing my nails didn’t go too badly, and I used the plum with one nail getting an extra layer of the sparkly transparent.

Not a bad job!

I’ve since acquired quite a few more colours, and will write more about how the different colours behave, because they are not all created equal!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Gelish nails, even if it’s not quite as durable as they claim, nor quite as easy to get off. Compared with normal nail varnish, though, there’s no comparison. The only way I could do a better job would be to go and get a professional manicure, so overall, I’m happy.

So thank you, Teen Vogue, for teaching me that there’s nothing wrong with wanting nice nails!

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