Have you ever wondered what is the difference between Shellac and gel nail polish? Do you love the look of super shiny nails, but hate the process of having them removed when it comes time to switch up your colour? Maybe you're keen to have a go at doing them yourself at home, but you don't know where to start.
Well, you're in the right place because in this article, I'm going to teach you all about gel nail polish. I'm going to explain to you how it works, and we're also going to discuss the advantages and possible disadvantages of using gel polish versus your traditional nail polish. And I will introduce you to a revolutionary product by a brand called KoKo & Claire.
For those of you that are new here, my name is Megan Hamilton and I'm a professional nail technician and international educator. I hope you'll stick around and consider signing up to our newsletter.
If you're more of a visual learner and would prefer to watch the video, feel free to click the image below and head on over to my YouTube channel (don't forget to subscribe while you're there)
Now most people have used or at least heard of regular nail polish. That's where you apply the colour right out of the bottle and you allow it to air dry. It evaporates into the air and that's essentially how it dries. It generally needs two coats of colour, depending on what colour or brand you're using, as well as a top coat and then you wait for it to air dry.
You don't have a lot of time to play around with it when you're painting it on though, as it's starting to dry while you apply it, so it can be a little bit tricky. But when it comes to removal, it's really easy. All you do is take some nail polish remover or acetone on a cotton pad, give it a little rub, and then you're done. So you could change your colour up every day if you wanted to, and some people do.
However, due to the nature of the product, it's not overly durable on natural nails and it doesn't last very well, even over enhancements like acrylic or gel for that matter. It does tend to chip within a few days if you're lucky.
Now gel polish became popular around about 10 years or more ago. You might be familiar with the term "shellac nails." Essentially, Shellac was just one of the first brands of gel polish and they marketed the heck out of it. So all around the world, people just refer to gel polish manicures as Shellac. When in fact, Shellac is just a brand.
Let me give you an example.
Just like Kleenex is a brand of tissue and people may ask you for a Kleenex, when all they mean is can they have a tissue. It's exactly the same thing with Shellac and gel polish, so I hope that makes sense. When gel polish launched, it promised glossy chip free manicures, that would last up to two weeks, and so because of this, gel polish manicures became the number one salon service.
I'm going to chat a little bit now about gel polish, gel in its nature is thicker inconsistency than nail polish and it doesn't set or dry or cure until you place it under a UV lamp which means that you can take your time to apply it nice and thin and smooth.
Okay, let's talk about removal. When it comes to removal, there's two main ways that this is normally done. The first is using a cotton ball soaked with acetone, then wrapped in foil while some people will soak their fingers directly in a bowl of acetone. And then the other option is using a hand file or electric file to physically file all of the product off and take it back to the natural nail. However, if you don't know what you're doing or you're not using correct techniques to protect the nail and the surrounding skin, you could potentially cause damage so you must be really, really careful doing this......And this is where KoKo & Claire comes in.
KoKo & Claire have designed a revolutionary hot water activated peel off base, which means you can easily and safely remove your gel polish with just a warm water soak. I'm going to start by showing you the foundation products (pictured below) Your foundation products are made up of these five bottles here and you can see that they are differentiated by a different colour set of crystals or stones in the lid.
On the bottom it says what product it is and also what step we're going to be using it. For example; Step number three is your peel off base.
If you purchase the Introduction Kit or the Power Foundations Kit, these are the five bottles that you will have in that kit. You also get an instruction card for your reference on how to apply these products, and then on the back it has your removal instructions. Your introduction kit as well you will get the little mini UV light, which is what you will need to cure your product. Inside the box you have your cord, where one end attaches to a USB adapter and the other goes into your lamp.
Below is what your lamp looks like. It has little fold-out legs underneath so you just pop those out, and then it just stands on the desk, and when you're curing you just pop your hand underneath. There's a little button on the back which you press to activate the light and it's programmed for a 45 second cure and that's all it takes to cure these KoKo and Claire products.
KoKo and Claire also has a beautiful range of accessories. This one here is their dust brush. It's just such a beautiful soft brush, which is perfect for removing the dust off your nails when you're doing your manis at home. They also have a range of tools as well. There's cuticle nippers, cuticle tools, brush and burnishing tools for their chrome products.
With your introduction kit you'll also have an orange wood stick, nail file and sponge buffer to get you started with your manis at home.
Another really great option is to also grab yourself one of these how-to mats. This is a really gorgeous silicon mat that you can just roll up and pop it back in its packaging when you're not using it, and it's just a great surface to work off as well because it's non-slip. And then obviously, you can see here across the top, you have a spot for all of your products, and then underneath of that, you've got all of your instructions right there in front of you.
You've also got a really gorgeous diagram down in the bottom right hand corner, which explains all of the anatomy and what they're talking about in your instructions as well. Just work your way through all of the five steps (either following the directions on the card or on the silicon mat) and you're done!
They also have hundreds and hundreds of different colour gels, glitter gels, cat eye polishes (which are your magnetic polishes). They have foil leaf gels, they have different chromes available that you can rub into your colours to create a different effect. So when you're ready to get into the nail art side of it, all of that is available as well.
Now I have a question for you, have you ever used gel nail polish? If you have, leave me a comment below and tell me what is your biggest struggle when it comes to using gel. I'm going to have a troubleshooting guide up in a few weeks so I would love some feedback from you about what you might need help with or what tips and tricks it is that you might like to see from me.
In the next blog, I'm going to take you through a step-by-step tutorial on correct application when doing a KoKo and Claire gel polish manicure. I'll go through from start to finish how to apply gel nail polish perfectly on yourself at home and I promise it's not that hard. So if you're a beginner and you want all of those tips and tricks, sign up for the newsletter below and you'll be notified as soon as it's available.
If you'd prefer to watch the video version of this or any of my other tutorial-style blogs, head on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe!
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