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Polish up on a lasting manicure

For manicures, new gel and Shellac items take a more professional approach to avoiding the dreaded nail chipping.

November 09, 2013|By Alene Dawson
  • Nail care company Creative Nail Design (CND) came up with a kind of hybrid, called Shellac, a salon-only system that was first released in 2010.
Nail care company Creative Nail Design (CND) came up with a kind of hybrid,… (Graeme Montgomery / CND )

Crackle may be good for your Rice Krispies but usually not for your nail polish. When your manicure chips soon after you get it done, it's not just annoying; it's a waste of time and money.

Even industry pros aren't immune to the problem. Sree Roy, former managing editor of Nails and Viet Salon magazines, used to get so exasperated with chipping (which would sometimes start only an hour after she'd had a manicure) that she'd often not wear nail polish at all.

Her solution now is to wear gel or shellac products.

"Gel polishes have been a lifesaver for me because working at a nail magazine, it [could] be super-embarrassing not to have my nails done," Roy says. Brands that make gel nail polish include Akzentz, Bio Sculpture Color Gel, CalGel, IBD and OPI. These are largely meant for in-salon use and professional removal, are baked on with a UV lamp, last for two weeks or more and cost about $30 and up.

There are some at-home gel kits, which include Kiss Everlasting Gel Polish Starter System and Pro LED Gel Lamp ($19.99 and $29.99 at Kmart) SensatioNail Invincible Gel Polish Starter Kit ($49.99, Target)

Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Kit ($64.99, Target); and Red Carpet Manicure Pro 45 Starter Kit ($79.99, Target). But you may experience less polish-peeling if you go to a professional.

While the gels last long, many women worry about the time spent curing under a UV lamp and about potential damage to the nail from the rough removal process. So nail-care company Creative Nail Design (CND) came up with a kind of hybrid, called Shellac, a salon-only system that was first released in 2010.

"We merged the best features of nail polish with the best features of gel to come up with a brand new category," says company co-founder Jan Arnold. "The whole point of Shellac was to not destroy the natural nail."

A Shellac manicure still dries under a UV lamp, but usually for less time than gel takes, and it can be pricey ($45 and up). Like gel, it usually only needs to be removed — by a professional — two to three weeks later.

More recently CND came out with Vinylux, a polish that can be purchased by consumers, doesn't cure under a UV lamp or require a base coat. It's formulated to adhere to the nail bed, and the Vinylux Top Coat "contains cross-linked polymer bonds that build chip resistance," Arnold says. "The system is made to get stronger in natural light" — no UV required. "It's for the fashionista who wants to change up their color but still wants color that can last Friday to Friday."

Editor Roy tried it and says her Vinylux manicure lasted four days, though Arnold says that CND consumer testing showed that more than 80% of Vinylux manicures had no chipping after seven days.

When it comes to regular polishes, some brands last longer than others, experts say.

"Our readers, who are nail techs and salon owners, voted on their top five favorite brands and they are OPI, China Glaze, CND, Essie and Zoya," says Roy.

But she and other experts say that application is key for long-lasting color. Always start with a nail bed that's been cleaned of oil and residue with a prepping solution. Spa Ritual Truebond Primer for Natural Nails, about $17, is one example. (Find retailers at

Chips are less noticeable if you wear sheer polish or glitter polish. CoverGirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss ($4.94, Target) gets good chip-resistant reviews, and Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat ($5.99, Drugstore) is a cult favorite for chip-free glossy nails.

After-care is important too. Spa Ritual founder Shel Pink recommends reapplying top coat every other day to extend wear and add shine.

"Another trick is to swipe the color just a little bit underneath the tip and the top coat as well," says Pink. "And be aware of how you use your hands." Clicking away on the computer, washing your hands a lot, opening boxes, sporty lifestyles, even using a bobby pin, can chip nails.

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