So, back in the day — waayyyy back, like 18-years-ago-back — when I was in nail school, one of the instructors brought in her gel system to demonstrate for us.
Now, California doesn't require us to demonstrate gel nails for our license. It's not part of the curriculum. A lot of techs don't offer them. And some places that offer gels, don't do them (ahem, but I'm not going to go off on a futile tangent about all these so-called "gel nails" that are just acrylic with a UV top coat). The point is, this instructor went above and beyond to teach us a little something about gel nails.
Suffice it to say, I was immediately convinced I would become a gel specialist. It looked so easy! All you had to do was polish the nails with gel and cure them under that light!
Well. I got out of school, I got my license, I got my first salon job, and I got my first gel kit. And I proceeded to become proficient at doing acrylics.
Only supergeeks and Al Gore had the Internet in '92, so it's not like I could just hop on the Google and find a million how-to videos on YouTube. I cut my professional teeth back in the day when getting a hold of other nail techs was a Sisyphean effort.
I kept my spirits up and didn't give up though. I remained determined be the ultimate Renaissance nail tech — offering all the major enhancement specialties, and being proficient at each of them. I kept trying new gels.
I have gone through more gel lamps than shoes in my lifetime. At least I know where all that money I'm supposed to have saved for my retirement is — I spent it on gel lamps!
It took me 15 years of doing nails before I got good enough at doing gels to not be embarrassed to charge for them!
Gel technology remains a mystery to me. Our industry chemists haven't shared as much gel chemistry as they have acrylic chemistry, and the more I learn about gel, the more I think I understand. Apparently, there are a billion types of gel. Maybe I'm still a little confused, what with all the marketing hype from various gel manufacturers who keep trying to convince us that their gel isn't actually a gel, or that it's better than gel, or that it's ... whatever.
I can wrap my head around two things: There are gels you can soak off and there are gels you can't.
I like the ones you can't soak off. They hold up well and I can sculpt with them and clients like them because they are so much like acrylics, only lighter and clearer and a little more flexible.
Recently, new gels have arrived on the market. They are rubbery and are not intended to be used to extend the nails. Thus, a new service has been born: the gel manicure.
I have tried a few of these gels. Got all excited and promised my clients all the same results that the product manufacturers promised me. But each of these products so far has fallen just a little shy of my expectations.
So when my Tammy Taylor rep called me up a few months back — as he has for the last several years — to ask what I needed and mentioned that Tammy was introducing her first gel line, of course I had to try it.
I admit, I mostly tried it because Tammy Taylor has been in the biz for a million years and — at least as far as I know — she has never introduced a gel line before. I figured if it took her this long to put her name on a gel product, I should at least try it out.
But it's a soak-off, rubberized, natural nails, "gel manicure" product. I wasn't expecting to be delighted with it. I had a break in my schedule one day so I sat down and put a couple of coats on my left hand. I intended to do both hands, but time ran out. I didn't expect the product on my left hand to hold up for more than two days seeing as how it's a soakable gel and I'm left-handed.
So 12 days later when the first signs of wear showed up, just at the corners of the two nails where I hold my acetone-drenched cotton pads, I was impressed. This stuff never chipped. It didn't peel. It didn't separate at the free edge (the biggest problem I've encountered with other products). It lasted through 12 days of baking, playing Frisbee with the dogs, swimming, gardening, and doing nails. All the things that I do that keep me from keeping my nails done on a regular basis. And after 12 days, the only thing that was starting to go wrong was from using acetone on a daily basis. So I filed off the gel just in those two corners and waited three more days before I had a chance to take it off and try both hands this time.
I also put it on my pickiest client. And two weeks later both she and I agreed that this stuff is pretty freakin’ cool.
Unfortunately, all the nails on my left hand are so much longer than my right hand now I'm going to have to file them down.
So I know this isn't a product review blog, but I just had to say something. It's not very often I find myself this impressed with anything!