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Professional manicures: choosing the best style & colour for you

“I just want my nails done!”
“I just want my nails done!”

The world of nails is expanding all the time and it can be daunting if you want to get your nails looking good but you really don’t know what to ask for. I had this question from Melinda in Newark.

“I have short, easy to break nails, and I really want to wear polish, but I work in a job where I just seem to be chipping my polish within a day and I get bored with reapplying it all the time. Professional manicures look great for a day or two but then the polish is chipping badly, no matter how pretty it looks when it’s first put on, and I’m so frustrated. I just want to have pretty nails that don’t break, split or have the polish chip off them all the time and nothing I do seems to help.

What do I need to ask for if I have a professional manicure? I’m a bit nervous of salons, and I wouldn’t be able to work with long nail, but is there a way of making my short nails stronger and chip-resistant - and what should I ask for?”

Firstly, Melinda I definitely know how that feels. I have really terrible nails, and although I adore that just-painted feeling, it never lasts. My nails flake and split too.

There are a few things you could try. If you want to try artificial nails, you could opt for gel nails. These aren’t as long and talon-like as some of the acrylic nails that you see, they are generally meant to look more natural than acrylics which (in my opinion) are more for people who are into nail art, and who use their nails as a canvas for designs and bling.

Gels MUST be applied by a professional, and always get advice from the experts before you go ahead as it’s possible that the gels can weaken your existing nails due to the way they’re applied, which involves filing the natural nail down. They can look really good, and they’re certainly tough. The only downside is that once you start with them, you’ll find you have to keep having them filled in as the nail grows out. You also need them removed by a professional. It’s a good idea if you have the time, money and inclination to make repeat appointments with your local spa or salon. I've had a gel manicure before and it didn't suit me, but many women have them regularly and swear by them.

If the idea of a false nail or potential damage to already soft nails isn't appealing, the gel polish manicure is another possibility? These often go under the names GELeration, CND Shellac, Gelish, and OPI Gelcolour. Just like a normal manicure, your nails will be filed and cleaned, then you choose a colour…a special gel polish which is applied and then ‘cured’ under a UV lamp for a minute or two, resulting in a rock hard manicure that’s designed to last two to three weeks. Even with my nails, and the pounding they get, I had a GELeration manicure and it lasted two whole weeks. Again, they should be soaked off by a professional using acetone remover, and that’s not kind to your nails, but you can redress the damage with nail and cuticle oils.

The latest addition to the long-lasting manicure set is the Vinylux polish from CND. I'm trying that at the moment and although it’s supposed to last a week, I'm three days in as I type and it’s slightly chipped. It’s still wearable though, and much more durable than standard polish which would last a day or so. Vinylux doesn't help strengthen the nails like a gel polish cured with UV, but it’s an improvement. At the moment it’s only available from salons but if it takes off, it will probably hit the high street soon. I hope that helps!

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