At Home Pamper Sesh

It’s been a busy weekend of house cleaning, laundry, and HOA board member duties.  I spent most of yesterday checking sprinkler systems throughout the development.  I discovered that my house is the only property with a totally malfunctioning sprinkler head.  By malfunctioning, I mean that I’m totally missing a head and everytime the system runs it creates a mini pond in my yard.  Totally explains the hole that I’ve been continuously trying to fill with dirt that just keeps returning…….sometimes with houses the struggles are never ending.

It also turns out that if you ever need to impress several middle aged to retirement aged men, just show off your sprinkler adjustment skills and chat about the renovations you’re doing to your house.  If you need an ego boost beyond that, I suggest putting House Hunters on Netflix.  Nothing will make you feel more like a boss ass lady than watching helpless people turn down houses because the paint isn’t a color they like.

Despite being a boss level sprinkler adjuster, I love having my nails done.  If they aren’t done, I feel naked.  Plus there’s the added terror of maybe breaking an unprotected nail.  THE HORROR!!  I started getting gel polish manicures when I still lived out in Rapid City.  I worked at the blood bank there, and regular polish was just not getting the job done.  The vision of having a salaried position that allows me to get biweekly manicures is just not coming together for me, so I decided to buy a home gel system.  It’s easy, cheap, and let’s me update my nails anytime I want.

I bought a Sensationail brand starter kit which came with everything you need to get started.  However, the lamp will work with any brand gel polish.  I have colors from Sensationail, Shellac, OPI, Gelish, Red Carpet, and Sally Hansen.  Any brand LED or UV lamp will work, just follow the time directions for any lamp you pick.

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Things You Will Need:

  • Lamp
  • Nail Prep
  • Polishes — Base coat, color, and top coat
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Manicure Tools
  • Paper Towel

Start by removing any existing polish, and file and prep cuticles as you would for a normal manicure.  Gel will be thicker than normal polish, which is nice for strengthening nails and helping them grow, however it does come with some drawbacks.  If you don’t properly prep your cuticles and pay attention to the placement of the polish, you’ll get a ridge on the back of your nails that will more than likely catch on things and peel up.

Once nails are shaped as desired, wipe firmly with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils.  Once this is done, don’t touch your nails.  Apply the nail prep solution.  I’m not sure if this step is critical, but my kit came with the solution and I know that when I’ve had my nails done in salons, this step is always performed.

Gel polish is atleast a 4 layer process, so make sure the layers are thin.  Start with a thin layer of the base coat on each nail.  I generally do my 4 left hand fingers in a group, my two thumbs on their own, and then the right hand fingers.  I don’t like having all my nails wet at one time.  I cure my base coat for 30 seconds with the lamp I have, but again most come with directions, so just follow those.  Also, some lamps are larger which would allow you to place your full hand in at one.  Your color of choice should be applied in 2-3 thin coats.  Don’t worry if the color goes on a bit streaky.  It’s some sort of gel polish miracle, but it always levels and smoothes while it cures.  Again, be careful to stay a bit away from your cuticles, and be sure to run the polish lightly alone the front end of your nail to help seal them.  Also, because the gel dries as soon as it’s cured, it’s important to clean up any polish mistakes before placing your hand back in the lamp.  I picked up a cheap metal manicure tool for cleaning underneath nails, but I find it works really well if I happen to get any polish on the sides of my nail.  A tooth pick or orange stick cuticle pusher would work well also.

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My color polishes need to be cured for 1 minute.  Once you’re satisfied with the color, apply a thin coat of top coat.  My system has an all in one top/base coat that would only need to be cured for 30 seconds, but I cure the top coat for a full minute.  This top/base coat works with all the color polish brands I have, so don’t feel like you need to match brands or anything like that.

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Sometimes I get a bit fancy with my manicures.  This week I used a small brush to apply zebra stripes using two other gel colors.  You could apply these either directly on top of your color before applying the top coat, or you can apply them onto the top coat after it’s cured and then apply an additional top coat over the top of the design.  I tend to prefer the second option….because the color underneath has been sealed, if you mess up on the design it can be easily removed before curing and won’t have any effect on the polish color below.  Just remember to cure your hand again after you’ve applied the design and before you apply the top coat in either case.  That’s pretty much it.  Once the top coat has been cured, wipe them again with rubbing alcohol and you’re good to go.  No more dry time, or fear of easily broken nails.  I can grow my natural nails out longer than I used to wear my fake nails, and I almost never worry about them breaking.  I have broken some, but only doing atypical things around the house that most people wouldn’t subject their nails to anyway.

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You can see on my pointer finger where I got a ridge of polish on the sidewall of my nail.  If you’re careful, you can sometimes pull the polish down towards your finder pad and just that ridge will flake off.  Just be sure to do it slowly so as not to peel off too much of the color.

At $9-$15 per color you can’t really beat the price of these at home systems.  Yes, you miss out on those fabulous hand massages that come with salon manicures, and yes it does take more time and a certain level of skill and practice to get a good seal and clean edges.  However, it also allows me to spend a night every couple weeks doing something for myself while drinking wine and watching a movie.  Not that I don’t drink wine or watch movies other times, but it’s also a nice creative break for me.

In the coming weeks I’ll add a removal tutorial and a traditional polish to gel polish tutorial so you don’t feel like you have to totally abandon your nail polish collection….which is great!  I think once you try this, you’ll never go back to regular polish.

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