I absolutely love the way I feel when my nails are coated with dark, glossy lacquer. Something about it just makes me feel finished. Unfortunately, a combination of limited free time and very unsteady hands means my at-home manicures rarely come out the way I want them to. And I’m just too rough on my hands for a salon manicure to be worth it – it chips off in days!
I used to get full gel sets, but it was just too much of a time and money commitment. Because the removal was so difficult, I never had a choice on whether to keep up with fills every two weeks. I just had to, and it kind of stunk. When my budget got tight, I finally gave them up.
I’ve heard a lot about soak-off gels like OPI Axxium, but hadn’t heard the best reviews about their durability. It seemed silly to me that they took so long to soak off at every single appointment. I was already strapped for time – I wasn’t about to do something that took longer. And at my salon, they cost more than regular gel fills! Not a great option.
But a few weeks ago, I stopped into my nail salon to get my eyebrows waxed and my technician told me about OPI’s new Gelcolor formula. It comes in OPI’s most beloved colors, but it’s much thinner than the Axxium, and it both cures and soaks off much more quickly. Each coat takes only 30 seconds to cure, and supposedly it takes 10 minutes or less to soak off. Best of all, they were charging the same exact price as a regular gel fill! When the holidays rolled around, I decided to treat myself, just to try it out.
Here’s how they looked the day after my manicure. Brad wasn’t around to take a picture, so it’s not the best shot.
I got my favorite color, Lincoln Park After Dark. The experience was really cool! The technician (who wasn’t my usual girl) prepped my nails as if I was getting a regular manicure – cuticle removal, etc – and then started with the OPI Gelcolor products. Unlike the Axxium, they come in bottles that look just like regular nail polish, except they’re solid black.
Image via Nails by Cheryl
Much like a regular manicure, the application consisted of a base coat, two colored coats and a top coat. Each coat spent a mere 30 seconds under the LED light. They were cured before the tech even finished with my other hand! After the last coat had cured, my nails were instantly as hard as plastic. This, to me, was the best part – no more sitting around waiting for the polish to dry, only to chip my thumb as I try to get out my credit card!
And after almost three weeks, I can tell you – this stuff is damn near unchippable. Here’s a photo from the two-week mark.
The regrowth is pretty visible – my one complaint about my technician was that she started off pretty far from my cuticle – but because the gel is so thin, it doesn’t look nearly as ridiculous as a grown-out regular gel or acrylic set. And because it’s an OPI color, I can touch it up at home with the coordinating nail polish.
Overall, for $25, I would definitely do this again. I don’t feel as pressured to keep up with it on a strict two-week basis, but it’s such an easy, fast way to get the most durable manicure I’ve ever had. (Even traditional gel sets just have regular polish on top – I can tell you from experience that those chip a LOT faster!) I got my manicure the day before Thanksgiving, and I still do not have one. single. chip.
Because this is so long-lasting, and you can’t remove the color at home, I might not recommend this to people who like to change their color frequently. I’m pretty happy to have Lincoln Park After Dark all the time, though, so it’s perfect for me!
Here are the colors that have been released so far, to my knowledge:
Image via UVnailpolish.com
Have you tried soak-off gel? What’s your manicure method of choice?