People may not think yoga instructors worry about their nails -- but I can assure you, my students are not only studying my postures, they're also checking out my nails. I'm not just teaching downward-facing dog -- I have to model a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, I only get two days out of a regular manicure especially since I don't have the strongest nails that only a few lucky ones of us are born with (pedicures never seem to be a problem though). Believe me, I've tried pretty much every nail strengthening product on the market. The only solution for me to have pretty nails and not have to worry about maintaining them for is getting a Gel, Shellac or Silk Wrap manicure. After having had each one of them done -- some even at a variety of different salons, I started to investigate more deeply into the differences between them and which would be best for me.
I love a gel manicure since they look natural, the gel nail polish sets in minutes and I can go about my day right after having my nails done without fear of smudging the polish. With the gel, my nails are flexible and don't chip. That is especially good since I am very active, always on the go and love to exercise, swim (yes, water does not harm gel nails at all. I can expose gels to water and soap for that matter), cook and play the piano and the nails just keep going!
Gel may not be totally risk-free (although it looks fabulous). Some people worry that gel manicures can increase the risk of skin cancer if a UV lamp is used but that risk is virtually nil and the salon gives you special gloves that cover most of your hand. Those who are still concerned can apply sunscreen to exposed skin. Even men are getting their nails done with clear gel. I also love that I do not have to worry about messing the gel nails up once I leave the salon since they are definitely totally dry by then.
Shellac is very similar to Gel but only lasts about two weeks. The main difference between Shellac and Gel manicures is that Shellac is a form of permanent nail polish whereas the Gel manicure is a gel in the form of a polish. Shellac needs to dry with a UV lamp as well. For both procedures the manicurist needs to prepare the nail carefully to get the best adhesion because if for instance dust particles from the buffing-process stay on the nail or the nail is not completely oil-free, the coat will start peeling off.
Shellac can be soaked off within ten minutes whereas Gel needs not only a longer soak time (about 20 minutes), but needs to be filed prior to being soaked in nail polish remover containing acetone.
Never peel Shellac or Gel off since it can remove a layer of the nail itself.
I am aware that all these manicures weaken the nail a bit. I really loved getting these kind of manicures so I started to do it frequently, and I thought my nails got a bit thinner but the time that it saves me is worth it since I'm always giving classes, traveling to new cities and am running my own business.
Silk wrap nails are exactly what they are called: a silk fabric is wrapped around the nail to make the nail more durable and nail glue is put all over it to hold it in place before the nails are being filed and painted. The main advantage for me is that after my nails were weak, the silk wraps gave them length. They are a bit less flexible than gels or shellac. Silk wraps are also most expensive since its application takes the manicurist also more time.
I guess most hassle-free would be to go au naturel but then again a girl needs to feel good about her nails. I will probably go back to getting gel manicures since for me that lasted the longest, up to three weeks, and involved the least amount of time. I feel better and more professional about myself with a manicure since my nails feel totally clean, smooth and even -- ready to take on the world. And this is New York City -- so don't think it's just girls girls girls that care about their nails nails nails.