I get questioned about my gel nails constantly (what shade of polish, where do I get them done, how much do they cost) and so I thought that I would put all of the information into one permanent post. Because my nails are gel nails but not – possibly – as you know them.
I’m going to adopt the voice of the woman from the Marks and Spencer’s adverts here, if you don’t mind, so please do play along and read this in a similar tone.
“These aren’t just gel nails, these are virtually indestructible, always-perfect, non-discolouring gel nails that form a new layer over your natural nail.”
This isn’t Shellac, or base-coat-colour-coat-top-coat gel, this system uses a builder gel (from Young Nails) that forms an entirely new base – hence why it’s used to correct broken or partially missing nails if they look unsightly. Marathon runners who lose all or part of their toenails, for example. The builder gel gives a huge amount of strength and allows whoever’s applying it (someone well-trained, hopefully!) to contour and correct the nail surface by basically creating a whole new nail above the natural nail.
Admittedly it’s not the lowest maintenance routine in existence; I have to go to the salon every four weeks to have the old layers buffed off with a drill and then new stuff applied – but in between visits, there is absolutely no upkeep and I rock up to my appointments with nails that are as perfect as the day I left the last time. No chips, no splits, no lifting – only the regrowth gives the game away.
But that’s another little twist in the tale; rather than choosing an outlandish colour each time, I go for exactly the same shade. Beige 102. (Again, from Young Nails.) Now some might think this is boring, to go for the same neutral shade each time, but I say: clever. It’s almost a match to my natural nail colour (“my nails but better”) and so when my nails grow and I have the band of regrowth it’s honestly barely noticeable. I just can’t rave about my particular little gel formula/perfect nail shade-combo enough – I feel pretty smug about it, truth be told, so something will probably go wrong soon. Dems de rules.
The only downside of this gel nails method is 1) you HAVE to make your appointments because the builder gel can’t be soaked off and filing it off yourself would be a crazy endeavour and 2) the nails stay so perfect-looking that it’s tempting to stretch out the time between appointments, and then you get nails that turn you into Edward Scissorhands. It becomes impossible to type, open tin cans or wipe yourself after the toilet without causing serious injury to your lady garden. Blinding yourself whilst itching your eyes becomes a very real scenario. Small children run away in fear lest you accidentally maim them with your diamond-strength talons.
The other great thing about the shade I have (Beige 102) is that you can get away with just one coat, whereas many shades need to be fully opaque. It means that I can keep my nails relatively low-profile and they don’t have to look like big bulbous jelly beans stuck to the end of my fingers – they stay chic and natural-looking. Hurrah.
Now the biggest question is: where you can get these miraculous nails done? I go to Martha at The Suite in Bath (website here) but it seems that there aren’t that many places that do them. Most salons seem to do your standard gel nails that last 1-2 weeks maximum. (And reports seem to be that they can be quite damaging to the natural nail, which I did find on the occasions I’ve had them but wouldn’t like to generalise!)
So finding a place to do them – and do them properly – isn’t that easy. I tried Googling “synergy gel nails near me” but that brought up quite a few places that turned out to not do them and also – weirdly – didn’t mention The Suite in Bath, which is where I go.. It may be a case of just phoning around until you find one, unfortunately, although I am going to try and list a few places in the comments. (Note that these are not tried and tested and I’m not recommending them, I simply thought it would be a good starting point. If anyone has any recommendations or info then please do add!)
I pay £33 each time for my nails and although sometimes I begrudge traipsing into Bath when I could be at home eating my secret chocolate stash, wearing a tracksuit, it’s quite good that I’m forced to get out and about. I do some chores, admin, sometimes meet someone for lunch or pick up a bit of shopping and then it’s all worthwhile. And – most importantly, from a beauty perspective, my nails always look impeccable. It has made it an absolute joy to plonk my hands and nails into every video close-up and still-life photo, whereas before I was always working out how to hide my chipped polish.
If you’d like to see Martha from The Suite in action then I filmed my gel nail session and put it into a vlog. Just press play on the screen below, or you can view in Youtube here.