Test Drive: Soak-Off Gel Manicures

Make chipped polish a thing of the past

Test Drive: Shellac Manicure Test Drive: Shellac Manicure Test Drive: Shellac Manicure

Though my love for nail polish is great, my hatred for chipped colour is greater. The ultimate solution: Head to the salon for a soak-off gel manicure, the biggest game-changer in the world of nails. The promise is a high-shine mani that lasts two to three weeks and is available in a wide range of colours.

For my first gel experience, I visited FLARE contributor and manicure master Leeanne Colley at Tips Nail Bar ( in Toronto. The process started just like any other manicure, with filing, brushing and clipping. Next came colour selection. With a variety of brands now offering gel manicures, offers abound. I opted for a rich eggplant shade from CND Shellac called Rock Royalty. (Along with Shellac, look for Hand & Nail Harmony Gelish, Entity One Gel, OPI Axxium and, as of this month, OPI GelColor.)

Just as she would for a regular salon manicure, Leeanne applied a base coat, two coats of colour and a top coat – the only difference was that my nails cured under a UV light for 90 seconds between each layer while the other hand was being painted. After the final curing session, my nails were completely finished. No 20-minute drying time; no concern that it might smudge as I put on my coat.

If the idea of sticking to one colour for two weeks sounds boring, you can layer regular polish designs on top (think: half moons, stripes, sparkles, etc.) or even switch up your overall colour for a night. A swipe of a remover-soaked cotton ball will not damage the gel and this, in a sense, is the only catch; the gel adheres so well that you have to return to the salon to remove it with an acetone soak. Considering how great my nails look after a week, I’d say that’s a fair trade.

Read more from FLARE‘s 20 Days of Nails special