Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Regular Nail Polish + Soak Off Gel Top Coat (Part I)

You know what really sucks? When I apply my nails polish and it chips in the same day. It's OK if it chips when I'm at home, but if I'm anywhere else, it'll make me go crazy. Yes, I really hate having chipped polish on my nails, but sometimes there's not much you can do. Some polishes last a couple of hours on me before they chip, some last a day but never more than that. I'm sick and tired of that and that's the reason I decided to try the Soak Off Gel Top Coat as my last resort. I was wondering what would happen if I combined my regular nail polish with a gel top coat, so I bought one via Ebay - it's called Hong Nuo Top Coat and it cost me $4.75 (+ $0.80 for shipping). I was dying to try it out, but I had to wait for another essential part for the gel-ish manicure...
Hong Nuo Soak Off Gel Top Coat

... 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).
9W Gel Curing Lamp

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.

STEP 1
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.
Guppy 64

STEP 2
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.
Curing Soak Off Gel Top Coat

STEP 3
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!
Guppy 64

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.

PROS: 
+ Longer lasting manicure.
+ It's easy and quick.
+ Amazing shine of the manicure.
+ No air-drying time.

CONS:
- 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.
Guppy 64

What do you think of this half regular half gel manicure?

Thanks for looking and commenting!

56 comments:

  1. I'll try anything that would make my manicure last longer. I'm very interested in how this experiment of yours will work out. I hope it's for the best! You're really a pioneer in nail issues ;)
    Come to think about it, I've seen some gel-like top coat from Essence in the stores. I remember it being in a black bottle. Have you tried it perhaps? Does it also require drying in the lamp?

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    1. I guess you mean the Better than Gel Nails Top Sealer. That's a regular top coat with no UV curing required. I love this top coat, but it can't prevent tip wear on my nails.

      But back to the "main article". I actually did the same research in the last two days. I couldn't find any real information either, so I was quite happy to see, that someone else was wondering too. I would love to read your final verdict! Especially with my current manicure, I would have loved to experience less damage... if a gel top coat could elongate the wear, I would definitely do it. Maybe not with every mani, but surely with a mani that took me hours to do!

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    2. As Kayono mentioned, that Essence top coat doesn't need UV light to dry and it actually NOT a gel top coat.

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    3. It's awesome, I fell in love with Gel nails!

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  2. Ha! I love that we think alike, dear sister. :) I actually asked a nailtech friend of mine last summer, if this was possible (she works for OPI, and I asked her if they were going to release a line of more simple home usage products), and she said yes (and they were working on it). So, yes, I have been meaning to try this out myself. I'm really looking forward to extend the wear of my pedicures, as bending down is such a hassle for us old ladies. ;) I have one thought though: instead of roughing up the gel surface with a regular file upon removal, why nut use a coarser side of a buffer file? It just might do the trick while considerably lessen the risks of damaging the natural nail, me thinks. :)

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    1. I used a gentle file. =) My nails are weak as they are and I really don't wanna make them even thinner and weaker. I'll let you know how this works out.

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  3. Well, I tend to chip my nails every single time! So perhaps this a great option for me! Looks quite easy and love the result! Thanks for sharing.
    Phlox

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  4. I used to do gel topcoat on my nails to keep them from breakin so easily and my gel top coat didnt smell so maybe it was just the one that you bought. i hope it works out great for u :)

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I tend to buy the smelly stuff. XD

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  5. It's ideal for women who have little time AND who don't get sick of a colour in few days :D

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  6. I'm not interested in manicures lasting longer, 'cause I love changing my nail color everyday, but I'm interested in this for one reason and one reason only! Have you ever tried nail foils?
    The holographic ones are to DIEEEE for but (always a but) they burn and crinkle up really bad with topcoat.
    I have heard that this gel thing won't do that to the foils. If so, that's something I'd REALLY be interested in.

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    1. I think I threw out my foils after they got all wrinkly with my regular top coat, but I'll look into my nail stash and if I find it, I'll try it out. Just to see if it's true.

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    2. I can respond to that, on my blog I've done this before, but then with a pedicure.
      Foil with two thin layers of UV-gel. It works, doesn't crinkle and stays very beautiful! It's only a pita to get off!

      Oh... just to let you know: I didn't try this with holo foil, but just the regular metallic foil, but that stayed beautiful for a very long time!

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    3. Really???? I'll give it a go then! Wouldn't it be amazing if it worked with holo foils as well?? Thanks a lot to the both of you!

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  7. Thanks for this experiment! I'm loving this gel top coat up until the removal time! I don't know how I feel about having to file it down! :(
    I've actually got a polish by this brand (I think some sort of blue glitter) which I also bought on Ebay but have been dreading to use it because I was afraid removal would be so hard and would damage my nails in the process! Like Feline Flodin mentioned, I will definitely give it a go on my toes because I like my pedicures to last very long :)

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  8. Great post, I've tried out the same thing with another grand of soak of gel with no luck :( Maybe I will have to try the brand you used. Excited to see part 2, I think that will be the final decider for me.

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  9. Oh, this is an amazing shine! And the shade of this guppy polish is so pretty, too!

    As for the attitude, I am the lucky one that can have a regular polish (once properly applied) last for 3-5 days with no chipping at all. However, the gel thing lasts on me for 2 weeks minimum, and it keeps being shiny. It is just so great for growing nails, you know. No chipping, no breaking... As for combining stuff, I've done a Jessica gel manicure once on a coupon offer, and the manicurist has told me that she could use whatever shade I like (not necessarily a gel polish) as the color coat. The only thing was, she said, that you'd have to wait some 45 minutes until it dries completely prior to applying a soak-off top coat. And I really lament I hadn't made this unique gel 'Victorian crush' manicure back then! Now after seeing your post (thank you!) I think of buying a lamp and give it a go!

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  10. I think the reason you can't find much info on it is because those of us who are using the soak off gels haven't really had much luck with regular polish. For myself, I've tried sandwiching regular polish between soak off base and top coat and the results were terrible compared to a full soak off gel manicure. I prefer to do a full soak off and then paint over it with regular polish a few times. I'm curious to see how long it will last for you without a soak off base. Also, be careful of the asian knock off soak off gels, some girls have had a nightmare of a time with removal.

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    Replies
    1. How long does this last for you? I wanted to do this tecnique after seeing a video by Loodiex3. I like changing colors but I need to add strength and this way sounds like it could work.

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    2. Question...I bought the Gel-ish nail products for home, did my toes last night and they turned out beautiful! Was curious, I had been going to a salon to have these done and had just had my fingernails done, wondering...can you apply more than one top coat of the Gel-ish product for added strength? Afraid to try and mess up my perfectly expensive salon set? Thanks! Joni

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  11. I do this all the using a the soak off gel basecoat, regular polish, and then the soak off gel topcoat. What I've found is that all soak off gel brands are not the same. I've used Blue Sky off Ebay and it is really hard to get off. I now stick to Shellac which will make your mani last longer and not chip but you can also get it off using the foil method just like you would for glitter.

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  12. I don't want to last my manicure longer, because I want to change it every second or third day. And it's a torture to get the gel off, so, no thanks!

    Lala

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  13. I can´t wait for part two, I´d love to have the opportunity to make my manicure last for a whole weekend or so, so if you are still happy with it afte rremoval and such I might purchase too!

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  14. With which product did you soak off the gel?
    Aceton? Or is there a special remover, if yes which one?

    Lala

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  15. I don't think this method is for me, I'd rather change my polish more often than deal with filing and soaking every time. Also I think soaking for longer and filing might lead to weaker nails.
    I'm wondering whether using the gel base with normal polish on top would give the same long-lasting result? I remember when I had artificial nails years ago, normal polish would last for weeks.

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  16. I do this sometimes - I bought the whole Red Carpet Manicure gel set, but found that I don't like the gel basecoat - it's too thick and peels off easily. So, I sometimes use the gel topcoat with the UV light instead of a regular topcoat. It does last longer for me than most topcoats, but it's not perfect - it sometime peels off like gel nails do. It removes easily with acetone.

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  17. Doubt very much if I'll ever try this. Too much work! The shine is incredible though.

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  18. looks great, but's not for me... big fear to remove filing my poor nails!!

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  19. I haven't done much research yet, but I'm a bit concerned about the UV lamp and how much I'd be using it...I don't want cancer, or a finger tan!

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    Replies
    1. This is what i worry about too. I have thought about using gel on my nails for quite a while now, but i always decide against it because of the uv exposure :(

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  20. Uau, kapo dol za tale poskus! Držim pesti, da ti manikura uspe zdržati do konca tedna! Tudi mene zelo zanima rezultat, ker imam podobne težave s krušenjem in tole mi izgleda zelo zanimiva rešitev. Sama nisem niti pomislila na to možnost! :) Kadar sem kam šla za cel dan, sem s sabo vzela lakec, ki sem ga imela tudi na nohtih in če se je res preveč okrušil, da bi to še lahko "spregledala", sem ga preprosto namazala preko praznega dela nohta. Mene je sicer še vedno motilo, ampak ostali pa niso opazili pomanjkljivosti. ;)

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  21. I want to try it because I'm really sad when I accidentally ruin my fresh mani!

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  22. I have been using the Gelish for a few months now. I could not wear regular polish without chips right away and my job is hard on the nails. Although the soaking off is a pain, my nails are quite strong with the polish on and are longer than ever since the Gelish. After removing the gel polish, my nails are very vunerable to breakage, so I polish again right away. Also, even when I soak in either the Gelish remover or plain acetone, I still need to scrape some of the polish off with an orange stick. I am always afraid of damage then. My top coat does not smell bad. I would love to know if this technique will work for you because the possibilities of more nail polish colors to choose from would be wonderful. Looking forward to the update. My Gelish manis last two weeks- could last longer but I need a change then.

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  23. The nail polish remover is normal or special? Kisses from Brazil.

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    Replies
    1. I used a regular nail polish remover.

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  24. I have used this method in my Salon now for the past 6 months with great results...I have many more colors to choose from than Gel colors offers..I use Gelish and Artistic Gel for my product line with OPI and China Glaze as polish..love it!

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  25. I am so appreciative of this article. I recently bought the CND shellac set with about 15 of their colors which I am not really crazy about. I love the quality of the gels but would love to use my (quite extensive) regular opi polish with the gel top and base coat. When you use the "sandwich" method, how do you dry the regular polish (cure or air dry). I only discovered too late the Gelish line of beautiful fun young colors. Between the lamp, tools, shellac, ect I've already invested $300+ in the CND line :(

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    Replies
    1. I think the regular polish needs to air dry. Like usual.

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  26. I'm a nail technician and just come across this post, you can also buy a foundation gel polish, which is the same make and price as the gel top coat,which takes 25 mins off of yoru drying time. you apply before the nail polish. You cure this under the 9W (small) or 36W (Big) UV Lamp for 2 Mins, You can then apply your nail varnish and it will completely dry in about 5-7 minutes. then you apply your gel top coat :)
    The sticky residue layer can be removed with Isopropal alcohol.
    For removal (Which eliminates all of your cons) You can just soak them off in a small bowl of acetone (which is incredibly cheap in all countries and harmless to the nail!) for 10 minutes, and then it should fall off of your nails, leaving your nails fresh and un-damaged :-)
    I hope this helped you all, and i wish you all luck completing your salon gel mani's at home
    Lewis xo

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  27. You are a total ROCK STAR for me!!! Thanks soooo much!!!

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  28. Sorry, am also curious about this technique, but too am fortunate enough to give myself some truly stunning manis/pedis with good wear time, 4 days - 10 days no serious damage, just slight wear, but Lewis, how can you say you are a nail tech and in same post say that using acetone won't cause any effect to natural nail? Over use of acetone WILL dry your nails and skin out leaving you dry and nails brittle and weak.. I use a good nail strengthener opi nail envy mostly, and then two coats of polish, then any glitters, foils, diamantés etc and then do any clean up, and then finish with seche vite and opi drip dry drops and am ready to go in 5mins! Always remember to cap your free edge with polish AND topcoat to try extend duration of your mani, and when possible, go for non acetone polish remover, much much nicer to your nails! Oooo and for the post regarding foils? I find ducato repeating nail glue (found on eBay after months of tryin to hunt it down!) and rrs nail art sealer a stunning combo with minor shrinkage and keeps Holo effect!! There is a video by tartofraise? Or something like that on YouTube, search foils ducato think that will bring it up!
    Good luck all though with the sandwiching!

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  29. Thank you!!! This was exactly the information I needed!

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  30. the wonders of google! Thanks that another person experimented with one thing that I thought of doing. I am jumping into putting glitters and even rhinestones (really, you can't look back once you get into all these nail arts) and I am worried that it will fall off if I don't use a decent top coat and I thought of using gel.
    Thanks again!

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    Replies
    1. Rhinestones don't fall off even with a normal top coat. I use seche vite and cult nails top coat and both are fine for sealing in nail jewels

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  31. I have just recently grown out all the damage, from having acrylic gel nails, my own nials are now quite strong, and I keep them painted for added protection, I use OPI colours, with the start to finish base/top coat and strengthener in one, I also use the drip dry drops,and chip skip products, but I still struggle with my nail tips showing a white edge after a day or two.
    I am considering using a gel top coat, but want one that I can soak of in one without having to scrape or file my nails...any suggestions? I would like to still be able to use my OPI colours with just a gel top coat.
    Also what does "CAPPING" the free edge mean? and how do you do it please???
    Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Capping means putting a swipe of polish across the edge: colour aand top coat and tip wear will be lessened

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  32. Capping the free edge is when you get the polish under the front and sides of your free edge (the tip of your nail). It makes the polish last longer and makes the nail polish application look so much better. The tips of your nails will look stronger and thicker. Make sure you do this with the nail polish and top coat!

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  33. I am happy to have found this review/post.
    I reciently bought SensatioNAIL polish and LED lamp kit, and I love it, but the colors available through the company are few. Im not a red polish kind of person, and many of the colors available are red. :( other than that, I love this stuff. It really looks amazing. I can achieve this same look with high gloss regular polish... but it never dries and it always smudges, so i hardly ever paint my nails. The gels are awesome. Ive been looking for a blog post like this one because i am very very curious about putting regular glitter polish under the gel topcoat. I am worried if the chemicals will work together, or if it will just compromise the structure of the gell... but so far, this sounds like it may work the way i am hoping it will. I am like you and ruin a manicure in the same day, or the day after. I did my nails with the gel for the first time on thanksgiving, 2 days ago, and it still looks the way it did the moment i finished. It really is amazing, and i think i am swayed for life. I havent tested the removal process.... which ive read about being a horror show, but if this lasting look has a lengthy removal process, i will just assess it by what matters more, and so far having great looking nails is winning my vote. :) thanks for the post, im going to try something very similar on my toes to give it a good test before i attempt it on my hands.

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    Replies
    1. I too bought the Sensational kit with the LED lamp. I just today decided to use regular polish. I followed the directions: Prepare the nails, apply one layer of Gel Primer and air dried for 30 seconds. Then apply a thin layer of the Gel Base & Top Coat, cure under LED light for 30 seconds, Then I applied my own nail polish and cured under the LED light for 60 seconds, then I applied another coat of the Gel Base & Top Coat and cured for 30 seconds. Wiped my nails with the Gel Cleanser. I only did my two thumbs. One with Gel Polish and one with regular polish. They both look good. I will test them for a few days.

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  34. I have found that the acetone polish remover works for removing gel. It requires time. In a small bowl pour in some of the polish remover then soak your finger or toes for about 5 minutes then dip a cotton ball and rub the remaining polish off it will be slick like it is when it goes on but it wont damage the nail.

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  35. I am kind of skeptical ib tryin a uv gel top coat from ebay. I currently own a sensationail kit led lamp cured and I am runing out of base and top coat. Buying a new one goes for more than 15 dolars while on ebay I can get it for 3. I just dont know if it will work with it.

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  36. Easiest way I have found to remove gel nails is the foil method. Acetone on a cotton ball, cover in foil wait 10 mins and it wipes right off. I have the gelish gel.

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  37. Does anyone know what to do when gel top coat gets too thick, can I thin it with something? mine got too thin and I don't want to trow it away, plz help

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  38. This was very helpful. I have the Sensational kit and I also have the Gelish pH primer and base and top coat. I have mixed and matched those gel polishes with no problem and I recently used a regular glitter on top of a gel color and have had no problems. As far as I can tell as long as you use the gel top coat, the polish you use doe not really matter.

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