The Gelly Sandwich – or How to do gel nails with regular polish
Can you use regular nail polish with gel?
So, it’s been eight months now <insert gasps of astonishment at how quickly time flies> since I got my DIY gel nails kit for Christmas, and unlike most other obsessions I go through, this one is still going strong. I don’t do gel manicures all the time, but to be completely honest, it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’ve identified three main drawbacks to the whole “gel manicure” thing, namely:
Jelly Sandwich Nails: It’s a pain to remove
The reason gel manicures are so popular is because the polish doesn’t budge once it’s on. That’s great, because it means you get chip-free nails for three weeks at a time, but it also means that, well, it doesn’t budge once it’s on. So if you decide you want to change the colour or whatever, you’re going to have to spend a lot more time on removing that gel polish than you would a regular polish. And, you know, sometimes you won’t feel like soaking your nails in acetone for twenty minutes, so you’ll end up just picking it off while you’re watching TV one night. You will, I mean. I would obviously never do that. Ahem.
You feel guilty about all of the regular polish you have no need for any more
Now, I was never really into collecting nail polish (I basically just like red, pink and… that’s it.), but even I had a small collection of colours I love, and recently I’ve also developed an inability to walk past the Essie stand in Boots without stopping and cooing over all the pretty colours. Which, of course, there’s no point buying now, because GEL NAILS. And the gel nail colours themselves are great, don’t get me wrong, but it looks like I just wasn’t cut out for nail polish monogamy. Sometimes I want to have a little flirtation with other brands, you know? But, of course, the problem with THAT is the gel nails have spoilt me: once I’d experienced the joy of chip-resistant nail polish, which stays shiny for WEEKS, there was just no going back – I’d still buy the regular polish occasionally, but then it would chip within three hours of application, and I’d be all, “Gel nails, take me back – I promise I’ll never cheat on you again!”
Luckily, though, there is a solution, and it’s a solution I stumbled upon totally by accident a few weeks ago, when I was searching for something else altogether. Probably dresses, let’s be honest. Anyway, the solution is the gelly sandwich, and it’s a technique which allows you to mix your gel nails topcoat and basecoat with your regular old nail polish. So, basically you go through all the same steps I wrote about in my How to Do Gel Nails at Home post, but instead of using a gel colour, you just use your regular polish instead. Yes, it’s that simple. Well, sort of. It goes like this:
How to use the gelly sandwich technique for a DIY gel manicure:
01. Prep the nails by cleaning with the Prep + Wipe Solution
02. Apply the gel base coat, and cure under the lanp
03. Wipe the nails again with the Prep + Wipe solution to remove any stickiness
04. Apply as many coats of your regular polish as you need to get the colour you want.
05. Let it dry completely.
06. Apply the gel top coat and cure.
07. Wipe the nails one last time with Prep + Wipe
The most important step here is number 5 – your coat of regular polish has to be TOTALLY dry before you add the top coat. In my case, most of the polishes I have are pretty fast-drying anyway, so it’s not a huge deal, but you know how some nail polishes just seem to take FOREVER to be completely dry? If you’re using one of those, you have to wait FOREVER. Or until it’s dry, anyway. Do that, though, and you get the gel nail effect, but with your regular polish as the colour coat. Now, I know what you’re thinking…
What’s the point?
It’s a good question. I mean, if you’re going to have to go through basically the same process as a full gel manicure, AND wait for the regular polish to dry… why not just DO a full gel manicure? Well, the simplest reason is that this method gives you a lot more choice, because you can use any polish you like, without having to stick to the range of gel colours (which I always have to buy online, meaning that the colour isn’t always what I was expecting…). The other reason, however, is that I find this method is much quicker to remove – you’ll still have to soak your nails to get through the gel layers, but it won’t take nearly as long, which allows you to switch colours more often.
Does it last?
When I first read about this, most people seemed to be saying that the gelly sandwich method doesn’t last quite as long as a full gel manicure. Actually, though, I’ve been pretty impressed: although the whole point of gel manicures is that they last for weeks, I normally find that by the end of the first week, I’m itching to remove it. The polish itself will normally still be perfect, but my nails grow fast, so I’ll have a lot of regrowth at the nail bed, and I’ll also be HATING the feeling of having my nails long. Try as I might, I just can’t get used to the sensation of long nails, and I find it hard to type with them, too, so a week is really long enough for me with one set of polish. When I use this gelly sandwich method, my polish is still chip-free by the end of that week (I haven’t tried leaving it longer than that, but there are no chips at all after 7 days, so I think it would definitely last longer than that…), which is at least 6.5 days more than a non-gel manicure would last for me: result!
The biggest downside of the gelly sandwich is the time you have to spend waiting for the regular polish to dry, which means it does take a bit longer than a full gel manicure. I find that it’s still quicker than doing a “normal” manicure, though – having to sit around waiting for all three coats of polish to air dry takes much longer for me than this does, and the results last much longer too. As I said, most of my polishes seem to be fairly fast-drying anyway, but even the ones that aren’t are normally dry enough to allow me to do something else (as long as it’s not something involving my nails, obviously!) while I’m waiting, so it’s not been a deal-breaker, so far.