From the NYT Fashion and Style section:
“MANICURES aren’t known for being everlasting. They chip. They smudge. Sometimes a nail is ruined even before you get home from the salon.
So it was curious to hear Michelle Mismas, who writes the nail-focused blog alllacqueredup.com, describe the indestructibility of a recent manicure. “When I was wearing it, I beat my hands up, and I couldn’t get a scratch,” she said by phone. “I was banging into things on purpose to see if I could trash it.”
Two weeks out, her dark raisin hue was the same shiny perfection. How? She was wearing Shellac, a soak-off hybrid between a gel and polish that will make its debut on May 1 in 2,000 salons nationwide. (She had a free sneak peek during New York Fashion Week in February.)
The product — the latest entry in a newish category of soak-off gels — has been five years in the making by Creative Nail Design, or CND. The company mixed one-of-a-kind shades for runway models in the shows by Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu this year.
Soak-off gels look like polish but last longer, in part because they are cured onto the nail with an ultraviolet lamp. The gel must be applied and removed by a professional, and the procedures cost more than standard ones.
A manicurist paints on a base coat, two color coats and top coat, as she would with regular nail lacquer. But after each coat, the soak-off gel is cured briefly under ultraviolet light, so the client leaves with impeccably dry nails. Goodbye to flip-flops in the snow postpedicure.
Removal takes longer, though, and may be tricky to do at home. Pads moist with acetone or a specially made remover are placed on the fingernail or toenail and worn for 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the brand. Sometimes, a manicurist has to scrape off crumbs of gel.
A predecessor product, hard gels, took too long to remove and involved filing, which damaged nails. But soak-off gels, now available in about half the country’s nail salons, are considered an improvement. “This year has been a huge boom in these soak-off gels,” said Hannah Lee, the editor of Nails magazine, an industry publication. “Everyone is coming out with them.”
Makers of soak-off gels hope to court D.I.Y. manicurists and women who never thought an easily chipped salon polish was worth it. Jan Arnold, a founder of CND, said in a video on the company’s Web site, “For all those women out there who are not coming to the salon for a manicure right now, they are going to be coming for Shellac, and they are going to be blown away.”
Indeed, it seems that the long-lasting gel mani is having a moment. A soak-off gel by OPI called Axxium, in 40 shades, is now in 5,000 salons, up from 250 in 2009, its first year. Bellissima, a company founded by the team that used to import a soak-off called Calgel from South Africa, created its own soft gel called Bella Forma, now in 400 salons. “Soak-off gels will be the new polish,” said Marnie Hadley, who owns Bellissima with her husband.
Only time will tell. But Nonie Creme, a founder of butter London, is skeptical. The long-lasting products “are quite simply gel overlays masquerading as paint” and overlays can lead to nail damage if they are poorly removed, she said.
Another drawback: a 14-day manicure can be too much commitment. Jennifer Belser, an aesthetician in Manhattan, admits to feeling torn. “I like to change my nails often,” said Ms. Belser, who tried Axxium in a dark berry color. Then again, “you don’t want to have to worry about them.”
But even Ms. Mismas, who adores switching colors on her fingernails, would Shellac her toes. “I don’t have the time or patience for changing my toe color that often,” she said.
The downside may be the cost. A Bella Forma manicure costs $30 to $100. Shellac will retail for 50 percent more than a basic manicure. I paid $40 to have an eggplant hue applied and $30 for it to be removed and replaced by a regular manicure. Paying a bit more might be worth the time saved and dovetail with the trend of going longer between salon services. “In the downturn of the economy, consumers didn’t frequent salons as much,” said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, a founder of OPI. “This is a great service to stretch two weeks or even longer and have great-looking nails.”
But near the cuticles, after two weeks, a line of new growth is obvious, a problem some deal with by going clear near the cuticle, and colored toward the nail edge. Recently, Ms. Belser got a Calgel manicure that is pinkish graduating into a sparkly purple. Her ring fingers have pink with purple and magenta swirls. Boring, no. And so far, no chips.
My dry, flaky nails didn’t fare as well with Shellac. Chips struck three nails. “If your nails are dry, or there’s flaking of the natural nail, it will crack or chip where those peelings are,” said Roxanne Valinoti, a CND nail technician. Pray tell, how long does Ms. Valinoti, she of healthy nails, wear her Shellac? “I go four weeks,” she said.” – CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS
My Professional Product Whore Opinion:
These are here to stay.
I have also tested Axxium and LOVE LOVE LOVE.
Shellac Experiment Day 3-Still perfect