Sunday, July 15, 2012


GELISH has been out for a few years (it actually came out before SHELLAC... like a year or so before), but it was only available from online distributors. Don't get me wrong; I'll buy stuff online to use in my business... but let's stick to files, buffers, nail decals, glitter, etc. I refuse to buy polish, gel polish, and the like online because frankly there are too many fakes (although I will do a SWAP with a trusted friend).

As a professional nail tech, I have to stand behind the products I use. For me, that means buying a lot of stuff from local professional distributors. My two favorites are Ed Wyse (locally-owned "small" business, sells to both the public & the consumer) and CosmoProf (big chain, sells only to the beauty professional & beauty students).

When CosmoProf's manager, Gabbi, told me that they're going to start carrying GELISH, I was super-excited. It was a brand I wanted to try, since they have bright, fun colors I couldn't get in the other lines I carried at the time. When Gabbi called to tell me they were in about a month later, I picked up a top coat, a base coat, the six RIO NEONs, and a how-to sheet. When I went in to buy a few more colors, Gabbi also loaned me the how-to DVD.

As with all new products I buy, I like to test them on people (myself, included) before I offer them as a service. I basically needed one or two natural nail clients & one with enhancements who'd already worn gel polish over them. I had offered to do my friend, Anna's, nails for free with a gel polish of her choice months ago; she was trying to stop biting her nails, so I said that as a reward, I would do her nails. My friend, Krista, offered to be my other natural nail guinea pig ($30 instead of my regular $35 price), and my clientfriend, Shannon, offered to be my gel enhancement guinea pig (only charged for the enhancement rebalances; no charge for the GELISH). As I said, I also tried it on myself.

MYSELF -- I wear gels (CND Brisa, for the record), and since gel polishes came out, I have changed it up every two weeks... I get to explore my more creative side, and show people I can do more than just paint a simple french, or just one color, and I still get the extra strength of gels under the color!
* My first trial with GELISH, I used their base, three coats each of "Carnaval Hangover" & "Amazon Flirt" (five fingers of each), some loose glitter, & their top coat. By the end of the two weeks, it had worn a bit on the tips of three nails.
* My second trial, I used Axxium's base, two coats of "Coco Cabana Banana", then marbled together "Coco Cabana Banana" & "Tiki Tiki Laranga", applied a sprinkling of glitter, then Axxium's SOG top coat. Using Axxium's base & top accomplished two things -- one, I was seeing if there was a difference in wear (knowing Axxium's top coat is NOT acetone-permeable, meaning you have to scratch it before applying your Soak Off wraps, unlike Shellac & GelColor) AND two, seeing if the two different formulas were compatible (they are). By the end of the two weeks, I only had one with noticeable wear on the tip -- my right index finger.
* My Third trial, I used their base, one coat OPI's "Alpine Snow" in GelColor, two coats of "Amazon Flirt", white craft paint w/a dotting tool, and "Tiki Tiki Laranga" for the inner dots, then GELISH top coat.

SHANNON -- Shannon also wears gels. Well, correction: Shannon wore gels for years, then her pregnancy (her twins are now 4yo) messed with adhesion, so we switched her to gel polish. A few months ago, she went back to wearing gels. I didn't get a pic of all three times I did her, but
* HERE is one set. Over her gel rebalance, I used GELISH's base, two coats of "Star Burst", topped with "Crown Jewel", & GELISH's top coat. She said there was no difference in how long those held vs how long her rebalances last with any other gel polish I've used on her.

KRISTA -- My original intention was to have Krista go three weeks, just to see how well it held up. I quickly realized that a SAHM to three is *NOT* the person to test this on. :) Krista used to wear acrylics (now, for the record, I prefer the term "L&P" or "liquid & powder", since gels are just another form of acrylic, and since both contain acrylates -- a little science lesson for you), and just wanted "pretty nails for a while". That, I can do.
* For her first round, after doing some serious cuticle work & proper prep (both are a MUST if you want anything to stay on your nails more than a day or two, btw), I applied GELISH's base, two coats of "Shake It Til You Samba", topped with "Izzy Wizzy", and GELISH's top coat. I got a call about 10 days in that she wasn't going to make it three weeks... so,
* I changed her to two weeks. For her second round, I did "Star Burst" topped with "Izzy Wizzy...", using GELISH's top & base coats, then I rescheduled her next appt to be two weeks from that. When she came back at two weeks, THIS is what her nails looked like.
* It was now time to remove them, and give her a basic clean up. HERE, all I did was remove the GELISH, shape her nails, clean up her cuticles a bit, and used a nail strengthener base coat, and a shiny top coat.

ANNA -- Anna is a substitute teacher, and a married mother of five. She was on the two-week plan. She used to be a horrible nail-biter, as well... so, I thought ANY kind of UV-cured color would help. Heck, even POLISH would help, as it would give additional strength to her nails and the brighter colors may make her take a second look as they would be headed to her mouth. Regardless, she's been bite-free for a few months now; I'm very proud of her!
* First round, we chose "Ooba Ooba Blue" topped with "Crown Jewel". In the future, I will use either three coats of these NEONS, or undercoat them with a coat of white.
* Anna's nails at 13 days (couldn't do 14; she had an appt) HERE.
* Anna's redo HERE -- "Carnaval Hangover" topped with "High Voltage". These turned out much better, since I didn't have to undercoat them.
* She went exactly two weeks HERE.
* At the end, I gave her the same clean up mani that I gave Krista -- HERE.

* Gelish cures with completely different times under the UV lamp as the other brands I carry (OPI's Axxium, OPI's GelColor, and CND's Shellac). It is VERY important to remember which brand cures at what times... some products can breakdown if you under- or over-cure.
* Gelish is compatible with the other gel polish systems I carry; meaning, I can use Gelish's colors with any of the four UV-cured tops & bases I own to give you more or less strength, depending on your needs (this is great, considering that I figured out that GelColor is NOT compatible with Shellac -- fyi). It also means I can layer Gelish colors with any other brand's.
* Gelish's prep for natural nails is the same as with GelColor.
* Gelish's removal is a cross between Axxium (scratch first to break the top coat's seal) and GelColor (15m or less).
* ROCKSTAR Gelish is not nearly as easy as ROCKSTAR Shellac. Gelish is more resistant to adhesion of loose glitter (& loose pigments, for that matter) than Shellac, so to do a proper ROCKSTAR application, you have to partially cure your top color layer, press in your glitter or pigments, and finish curing. I had success with 30 seconds under the UV lamp, then finishing with the other 30 seconds, then applying my top coat.
* Gelish's top coat is similar to Axxium's SOG top coat, though not quite as strong. Neither are acetone-permeable, so I can wear either over my own UV-cured color (no matter which color/brand I use) and not worry about messing them up by using acetone on other people.

THINGS *YOU*, as the consumer, SHOULD KNOW --
* None of the UV-cured colors need to be soaked off in a bowl of acetone, and they should NEVER be filed off -- with a hand file or an electric file -- unless the color is applied over your enhancement (gel or l&p system). If the company who makes the products doesn't offer a special wrap (or your tech is trying to save money), acetone on a cotton pad, wrapped with a piece of aluminum foil, is THE ONLY thing they should be using.
* Your cuticles MUST be softened & pushed back, your nail surface must be COMPLETELY free of debris, & you need to have a nail prep (BondAid for OPI, Scrub Fresh for CND) of some sort used (some techs use IPA; that works for most products, but not all. I prefer BondAid & Scrub Fresh), for your gel polish manicure to last. Really, if you want anything to stay on your nails -- polish, gel polish, &/or enhancement -- these steps must be taken.
* Just because a salon offers "Shellac Manicures" (or some variation thereof) doesn't mean (a) they actually use CND's SHELLAC, and (b) doesn't mean they've been properly trained to use whatever products they offer. Do your research. Ask lots of questions about sanitation (another blog on this later), their licensing/certification (states' rules vary -- in Oregon, we actually have CERTIFICATIONS, not LICENSES), training/classes they've had, etc.
* Each practitioner is required to have AND TO DISPLAY their license, as well as their city/county business license (I have a compliance waiver, simply because I don't make the minimum required in my county to have an actual license).
* Check them out on Yelp, if possible. Call the state board or do some checking online (Oregon's cosmo website can be found here), check the websites of the company's products (OPI, CND, etc) to see if that salon &/or the techs who work there have had proper training (ftr -- I've taken four CND classes, earning me "GRAND MASTER" status, and one class from OPI, "GelColor"... wish they'd offer more). Oregon, btw, is not a state that requires continuing education (I wish it was!), but I still do a lot to stay ahead of the game -- networking, online videos, & practice, practice, practice! Your tech should, too.


  1. Hi there! could you help me please. I love gel manicure and wanted to invest into getting all the materials to do it myself at home. What items should I purchase in order to have everything necessary for a proper gel manicure? I want to keep the cost low, however I want to make sure I buy the right products. I normally get Gelish manicure and love it. Please help. Thank you!

  2. While I understand that in this day & age, it is cheaper to do your own nails, as a Nail Professional, I would never recommend doing gel & gel polish manicures at home. There are too many risk factors involved, and doing it improperly could lead to severe medical issues for you. Your best bet is to give yourself basic manicures at home and treat yourself once in a while to a properly-done gel manicure at a professional salon (not a chop shop, not your local corner shop; do your research -- both OPI and CND have actual trustworthy professionals listed on their websites). Believe me; the money, time, and education a true professional has invested is totally worth it. Good luck!

  3. I purchased the starting kit of gelish to do my own nails at home, and had 2 months of fun playing around with the process. I then rested my nails for 6 weeks without using any products while waiting for some other uv gel colours and base/top coats to arrive that I purchased online.

    This time I used the gelish cuticle nourish first then started on my nails. WARNING - watch what you put on your skin and remember to test any new products for any reactions.
    Four weeks later ALL of my skin from my fingertips to first knuckle has peeled painfully away, especially under the nail, my nail bed is now half the original size as hard dried up skin slowly peels away.

    At first I thought I must have burnt my fingertips under the uv lamp but now as skin is peeling off under my thumb, pointer and tallest finger I realise the problem must have been massaging the cuticle solution onto my cuticles etc. I have never been allergic to anything ever in my life - I am in my 50s. So please be very careful using ANY new products on your skin.

    So from this mature age woman - with fingers that can't cope with the extreme pain I get just from trying to open my purse to pay for groceries - PLEASE, PLEASE be careful of using new products.

    1. This is why I NEVER encourage or promote at-home use for professional-only products. We are trained to do what we do, what not to do, and what to look out for when it comes to reactions to product. This is also why I ALWAYS test new products on myself and a few friends, co-workers, or long-time clients. I'm sorry you had such a horrible reaction.

  4. I would like to know why it is a bad idea to file off gelish. I got an acrylic manicure with gel polish on top. Since the nails have grown out, and because I'm low on money I filed the polish off. Is there harm in this?

    1. Katie -- No. Filing them off acrylics (or gels) is perfectly safe. You just don't want to file them off your natural nails. Gel polish removal from natural nails should be gentle; filing is too rough & can damage your nail plates.

    2. Thanks for the info! Very helpful!