Makeup Monday: More about Gelish

April 2, 2012 · 32 comments

in Hildie Likes, Makeup/Beauty, Nails

I have had so many questions about Gelish since my post a couple of weeks ago (which you can read here) that I though I should write a little more. So here are a few more details:

This is what you must have for Gelish:

Foundation Gel


Top it Off (all three products are by Nail Harmony. They also make Red Carpet Manicure which is sold by Ulta and has almost identical colors.)

LED light or UV light (LED lights in a nail lamp are stronger than those in an LED flashlight. Which is why you can’t find a decent LED nail lamp for less than $200. Don’t you think somebody would be selling a super cheap version on ebay if they could?)

Nail prep. Either use the Gelish Cleanser by Nail Harmony or 90% rubbing alcohol sold in most pharmacies. You have to remove all residue from the nails or the Gelish will just peel off. This is also used at the very end of your manicure to remove the sticky layer.

Paper towels. Good for applying nail prep/alcohol. Cotton balls leave tiny threads that get stuck in the polish.

These things are nice but not necessary:

Pro Bond (by Nail Harmony). This is used after the nail prep/alcohol but before the foundation gel. It keeps the polish on extra well. I just use it at the tips.

Cuticle Clippers. Keeps cuticles nice and tidy.

Orange Sticks. These multi purpose wooden sticks are great for a dozen different tasks. I use them constantly. I prefer the slightly fancier ones with a nice pointy end rather than the kind that are sold in a huge pack for super cheap.

Several people have asked if it’s possible to use regular nail polish sandwiched between the Gelish Foundation Gel and Top Coat. Yes, technically it works. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t last nearly as well as Gelish brand polish. It chips sooner. Plus you have to wait for the polish to completely dry before you can apply the Top It Off. That adds up to an hour to your manicure while you sit around waiting for your polish to dry.  The UV light will not make it dry faster. It’s an entirely different chemical reaction than takes place with Gelish polish. It sucks that the Gelish nail polish costs $10-$15 dollars per bottle, but it does, so too bad.

Since the Gelish color palatte is somewhat limited, here is what I do to make it seem like I have more colors than I do: I own five or six basic Gelish colors that I use often and I pour small amounts in a dish and mix up new colors. I have not had any issues with my new concoctions chipping or not wearing as well. I will just mix a few drops at a time (enough for ten nails which is really not that much at all).

I also layer colors. Some are more sheer than others and will completely change the look of your polish. Samuri is a lovely, purplish sheer that is OK on its own, but looks marvelous when applied over most any other color. Two coats of Gossip Girl with a coat of Samuri over the top is my favorite.

Here’s a quick run-down on the complete Gelish application process:

1. File nails and push back cuticles.

2. Apply nail prep/alcohol with a paper towel.

3. (Optional) Apply Pro Bond to nail tips, edges, underneath free edges.

4. Apply Foundation Gel very sparingly.

5. Cure for 1 minute.

6. Wipe off excess foundation gel with a paper towel.

7. Apply a thin coat of color, including free edges and tips.

8. Cure for 2-3 minutes (under UV lamp. Less for LED. 2 minutes for pale colors. 3 for darker colors.)

9. Repeat color and curing until you have three coats.

10. Apply Top it Off.

11. Cure for 2-3 minutes.

12. Wipe off sticky residue with rubbing alcohol and paper towel. DONE!

As far as removing the Gelish goes, it is a bit of a pain. The top layer must be filed with a coarse file so that the remover can penetrate the layers underneath. The nails must be soaked for about 10 minutes in 100% acetone (available anywhere). I usually fill up a little dish and soak one hand at a time while I read a book. After the nails have soaked, use an orange stick to scrape off the polish. It won’t hurt your nails but it will make them look kind of gross. Afterwards wash your hands with a big dollop of soap and your nails will look just fine.

This would not be worth it if you had to do it all the time, but every two or three weeks is certainly worth the trouble. All told it probably takes me about 45-60 minutes to remove my nail polish and apply a new color from start to finish. I adore Gelish and don’t think an hour every couple of weeks is too much to ask for great-looking nails.

Let me know if you have any questions!