Just like Brexit, it all seemed like a good idea at the time.

The beauty disaster equivalent of Brexit

Well groomed nails are the foundation of our civilisation… As  a low maintenance kind of girl, usually did my own, until I discovered the magic of gel.

Gel nails at Fenwicks with Nailsinc.
A professional gel application appears to be a quick, no maintenance beauty solution: tah dah! perfectly groomed nails. Smooth, glossy colour and practically indestructible, I wrote about it back in April, in this very blog. It saved me tons of time and at £60 a go, though perhaps not inexpensive, it seemed reasonable by London living standards. The little nail bar at Fenwicks is scrupulously clean and looks very inviting.

Look under the glossy veneer
Sadly, underneath all the shine and the  gloss, gel applications were ravaging my natural nails. It is disappointing that the trained nail technician did not warn me about the potential damage of indulging in back-to-back gels.  They are practically addictive and had treatments every 3-4 weeks, for about 6 months. My nails looked beautiful, one could not stop admiring them.

Six months later
Fast forward, by October, when I had the final round of gel removed, it was a shocking sight. My natural nails looked dreadful, weakened, peeling, bloody corners in a true state of distress. I have a sneaky suspicion, the technician may have been removing them incorrectly, with a bit too much enthusiasm and a nail file. If you want to end up with misshapen, deformed nails, that seemed to be the way to go about it.

I looked at the wreckage of the post gel result and refused to have another application. I also requested a different technician to complete the process. The managements reaction was disappointing, though perhaps not surprising. They were very sympathetic, glued the nails together in a haphazard way and said, I’d have to “wait for the damage to grow out”.

The verdict of this sad tale, is that there  are no shortcuts. I think I will now go back to DIY pedis.

Warning:  Gel cons:
# only safe to apply on healthy, strong nails.
# repeated applications, could lead to misshapen & deformed nai, permanently.
# It is NOT a good solution to disguise damage, it will weaken the nail even further.
# Should come with a warning on the packaging, that some damage is inevitable.
# There are also additional concerns about cancer and the use of UV lamps.

The glamour: Gel  pros:
# A Gel application is probably Ok to try as one off treatment, for a special occasion.
# beautiful, glossy finish that’s virtually indestructible, (though remember it’s the gel thats indestructible, not your nails)
# choice of colours is  limitless and a good beautician can even mix to create a special shade just for you. Especially handy if you want to match shoes or dress, corporate or wedding cake…

After the ordeal, my poor nails have been receiving lots of tender care. Mostly in the form of soothing words, daily oil application plus the miracle mani – pedi masque for Barry M.

Nail care to nourish and restore: Nail mask and nail rehab
Barry M nail mask Is described as a pampering party for nails and costs just  £3.99. Well worth a try and creates a soft look camouflaging the ugly damaged nails. As well as nourish and care for abused nails. I also tried Sally Hansen nail rehab, which is also showing some promising results. Both products can be bought inexpensively at a chemists and thankfully do not require ‘professional’ skills to apply.

It will take me 6- months to a year to get my nails back into a state, fit to face the world. I was lucky to have realised the disaster and terminated the gel pedis, while relatively healthy nail beds remained intact.

Personally, I will not be putting my nails through that ordeal again. Condition and health are far more important than fake gloss.


7 thoughts on “Beauty update: gel nail disaster (at Fenwicks with NailInc.)

  1. Donna C

    You should only get a gel manicure every so often because of the damage. Sometimes you can do two in a row, but then you need to lay off all polish for a few weeks to let them growth and strengthen. It is a heavy price to pay for good nails! I’ve recently fallen in love with Gucci polish. Was a Chanel fan for years, but Gucci polish will stay on for a week! Worth the price to me.
    Sorry about your nails – baby them and they should recover. You just need to give it time.

  2. Janet

    I’ve never had a gel manicure. I’d heard of the potential for damage and thought it best to avoid. Last year I began using Essie’s Gel Couture, which isn’t a gel. It’s fabulous. Now, I use a regular Essie color and use the Gel Couture topcoat. The manicure lasts at least two weeks, and I’m a writer, so lots of pecking on a keyboard. Oh, and I use a protective base coat.

  3. lucy

    Constant application can cause damage and dryness, but I still get them done occasionally. When I travel or when on holiday its worth it for the convenience. Important to let the nails rest and use nourishing oils, between gel sessions.

  4. dottoressa

    I’m so sorry for your nails,but with your care they will be perfect again.
    Mild simple olive oil baths (5-10 minutes) work for me
    I’ve tried it only once,more than ten years ago-my nails are very sensitive to cold weather,no gloves or supplements could help,they broke easily(from spring to autumn they are quite ok),so,my intention was to help them:-),but after first gel manicure they were even worst
    During the hot months,I have soak off gel nail polish pedicure-it is less damage to nails than hard gel
    But,there are many beautiful ordinary nail polishes that last longer (my friend at the coast works with Yessica and my pedicure,with everyday swimming and open toe sandals, lasted for more than three weeks),a lot of them are 5 free non-toxic(or even more, to 9 free)

  5. Chris

    I only did them once, rather recently actually, because someone convinced me they are amazing while traveling (no need to carry all the nail “equipment” in longer trips). So, I did it and had the most beautiful nails of my life for my vacation, could not stop admiring them for the three weeks(!!!) I had them on. Perfect. Then I removed them… it’s been a month and my nails are still peeling off in sheets here and there. Granted, I never had amazing nails to start, and I went to a very reputable band experienced salon, but given the damage to my nails I would not do it again…

  6. mini mee

    sorry to hear about your experience. my mother works in the nail industry so i know a little bit. good nail techs will prep w a base coat first to protect the real nails. Always! and for take off they should patiently wait for polish remover to work its magic. filing is quicker but quite damaging if done incorrectly.
    p.s. is 60 pounds for a set of gel standard for london? that’s 2x what it costs here in the us


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