... the lamp! It has one 9 watt UV bulb and it's used to cure the gel top coat. Unlike regular polish, which airdries, gel polishes and top coats dry with the help of UV light. That's why you absolutely need one of these. There are a lot of different UV lamps: big ones, small ones, the ones with one, two or even four UV bulbs. The selection is quite big. I purchased this one because it's small and I figured it'll be good enough to try this techique out. I still don't know if I'm gonna like and use this gel-ish manicure so I picked the cheapest lamp. I got it off Ebay for $13.95 (buy it now, free shipping).
I've been searching the internet for information on using regular polish with gel top coat but without much luck. I decided to wing it and see what happens.
I used a regular polish just like I always do. I didn't use any base coat, I just applied 2 layers of Guppy nail polish in #64 to my nails. After the polish dried I did the clean-up with my brush. I waited for my polish to really dry before I continued with the next step. I think it took ~30 minutes for the polish to dry completely.
After the polish has dried completely, I applied a coat of Hong Nuo Soak Off Top Coat to my nails. I did the thumbs separately, 'cause they wouldn't fit into the lamp with the rest four fingers. I placed my fingers/nails under the lamp and cured the gel for 4 minutes.
Sometimes there's a sticky film on the nails after curing the gel. I didn't experience that, but in case I did, I kept a bottle of rubbing alcohol by my side to wipe it off. That's it! The nails are now dry and you can continue doing whatever you want. No more drying time. And the shine! It's amazing!
Removing soak off gel top coat:
Before I did a full manicure, I tried the techique on one nail - the application and the removal. Just in case to see the possible traps before I had gel on all my nails. Yes, the removal is a bit tricky and not as easy as with the regular polish, but that's why gel lasts longer.
I carefully filled off the top of my manicured nails trying to not file too much and damage my nails - you just need to file the gel part so it becomes rough. Then I placed a cotton pad on my nail and waited for a couple of minutes. The gel and polish went off pretty easily.
Let's see what are the good points of using a gel top coat and what are the downsides.
+ Longer lasting manicure.
+ It's easy and quick.
+ Amazing shine of the manicure.
+ No air-drying time.
- The removal takes time.
- Possible nail damage that comes with the removal.
I also have another con for you, but I don't know if this applies to all the gel top coats - my Hong Nuo Top Coat stinks! It stinks only until it dries, but man, that's one bad smell. I still don't know about the longer-lasting manicure thing, I'll have to just wait and see. I hope it will last at least until the end of this week. I'll make sure to let you know about it in my Part II post which will be a sum up of this new techique. Just to get a little glimpse: I applied my polish yesterday and it still looks impecable today. So good so far. And I've never had my nails so shiny! This morning I woke up and expected to see sheet or hair marks on my nails, but no - they're still glossy and looking great.
What do you think of this half regular half gel manicure?
Thanks for looking and commenting!