After noticing that my colleague's perfectly lacquered nails stayed glossy and chip free for weeks, she told me her secret. She had a 3 week manicure.
Hers was from Nails Inc. Also known as bio sculpture gel nails. You might have noticed the little UV boxes in nail salons-that's what sets the gel to make them hard and strong.
Gel nails are still fake but not as damaging as acrylics. The gel is porous so nails can breathe. A little buffing is needed to prime the nail but that's the extent of the damage.
They're are thinner than acrylics so it looks natural. And the colour won't chip because the gel itself is the colour. (The choices may be limited.)
I wanted to give them a try so I got a loyalty card from Nails Inc for £150. It includes 4 x 3 week manicures including removal. A great deal since the manicure on it's own is £50 and it's £20 to take them taken off.
The manicurist buffed my nails and applied a coat of clear, 2 coats of white for the tips and a final coat of clear. I had to stick my hand under the UV lamp between each layer. It was like my hands were in a solarium. Perhaps I should have worn sunscreen first?
Clear nail polish was applied to seal the gel. The white will eventually discolour so it was recommended to apply a fresh top coat every week.
I did'nt bother with this and by the third week, it was definitely time to take them off. There were tiny cracks on the whites and regrowth was noticeable.
The manicurist wrapped my nails with acetone soaked cotton wool using foil strips. After five minutes she scraped the nail beds clean. After a little buffing and a top coat, my nails were back to normal.
I'm taking a break for a few weeks but the next time I'll go for a proper colour. Stay tuned!