Everything you need to know about gel nails
Gel nails are the latest must-have fashion accessory
It’s the newest fad in town. Here’s a nail manicure that lasts three weeks, gives you ultra-glossy, impossibly long nails, takes about three minutes to dry with no risk of smudges as you leave the salon. No wonder then that Gel Manicures are all the rage. Long, gleaming nails are the newest fashion accessory and Teresa Chen, owner of Glory salon in the Mumbai is the go-to expert for this stylish trend.
Her salon bustles with the chatter of society ladies, collegians and fashionistas treating their pinkies to eye catching nail shapes and designs. “The reason gel nails are so popular is because they can be used by just about anybody. They’re a boon for nail biters and women with short nails that chip easily,” says Teresa. There was a time when you pondered over a tray filled with sundry nail polishes at the end of your routine mani-pedi. But no more. The throng of ladies has as much to do with Teresa’s innovative designs and eye to detail as it has to her expertise. She first trained with Rupa Gill and then honed her skill with practitioners in Singapore and Hong Kong.
How it works
Somewhere in between regular nail polish and artificial acrylic nails, gel nail polishes have revolutionized the world of manicures. Gel nails are a type of treatment where thin layers of gel are applied to natural or artificial nails and cured under an ultraviolet light (or with a special gel activator) to create a high-gloss finish. Already a hit in Asia and Eastern Europe because the non-yellowing, odorless, and chip free formula strengthens nails and provides the perfect base for funky and flirty designs. Follow up sessions when the gel starts to loosen as the nail grows out involve filling-in the gel or filing nails down and getting creative all over again.
Depending on the customer’s preference French tips, painting on designs, sparkles and other nail art is stuck on before the final top coat is applied. Exotic top jobs include marbling, a process where gelled nails are dipped into a small saucer of water containing swirls of different nail paints. The result: a curious fusion of nail polish, each finger looking different from the other. She also offers nail piercings, much like nose and tongue rings. A tiny drill is use to drill a hole through the extended nail tip from which a tiny ring hangs. The best part? You can stay hassle-free for up to three weeks. “For about Rs. 2,500 you get beautiful, strong nails that are virtually shatter-proof.” You can do just about anything with your nails provided you keep them clean, says Teresa. “The only precaution we advise is not getting food particles stuck under the nails to prevent infection.”
Popular gel nail brands
There’s no dearth of designs, colors and combinations she offers. While French tips and reverse manicures are always popular, collegians prefer eye popping neons and fluorescents and professionals prefer shorter nails in deeper wine and burgundy. Cashing in on the huge popularity of gel nails, today there’s no dearth of brands to choose from. Some of the popular ones include Sally Hansen, OPI, CND Shellac Gel Nail Polish, IBD Gelac, Pro Nails, IBD Builder Gel and Artisan Gel Nail Systems.
Gel nails versus acrylic and stick-ons
The reason gel nails score over acrylic or stick ons is because they not just last longer but also cause less damage to the nail bed. “Stick on nails are convenient and easy to use but the adhesive makes it easy for air pockets to form between the nail and the stick-on, increasing the risk of fungal infections.” Moreover they last just a week and the whole process of removing them regularly can get quite tedious and damaging. Acrylic nails are made of a combination of monomers (a powder) and polymers (a liquid). Combing the two creates acrylic that dries on the nail, dehydrating it. Teresa says besides feeling ‘heavy’, removing acrylics tends to damage the nail bed because some layers of the nail are lifted off as well. Gel nails, on the other hand, are a boon for women who aren’t blessed with strong nails says Teresa.
A woman of many parts
Teresa’s family migrated to India from Hu-pei in the 1920s. Her family moved to Delhi, where her mother, Shen Chen Lee ran a parlor. After a stint there, Teresa moved to Gorakhpur and then to Mumbai where she set up Gloria in 1993. Her loyal clientele frequent her salon not just to get their nails done but also to get her to work her magic on their tresses. “Hair styling is my first love. I enjoy experimenting with different hair styles, updos, extensions, braids, messy buns and more,” says Teresa.