I’ve always struggled with my nails – having been a biter all my life sadly. That has left me with very brittle and fragile nails even when I do break the habit. This isn’t a particularly glamorous topic, but it’s a real issue and I hate having nasty looking nails. It doesn’t help that I’m also hindered by genetically weak nails, with ridged nails making them even weaker.
For some reason though, when my nails are painted I don’t bite at them. They can grow to be fairly long in fact, and naturally quite pretty in shape. The only problem is, I find the colour starts chipping away at the edges and whenever they get beyond a certain length they start to break, so I bite them down and I’m back to square one again. My sister said a solution to this might be gel nail varnish, like Shellac – but it’s so expensive and time consuming having to go back to the salon for them to take the varnish back off again, I just can’t be doing with all that faff.
My sister got her own at home Gel nail kit for Christmas this year, with a UV setter and everything, which she absolutely loves. She lives in Hull at the moment with her boyfriend at university, but she did say that when she moves back closer to home, she’ll be able to do my nails, the varnish will be stronger and last longer, and give them a fighting chance.
In the meantime, I thought I’d look into the Essie Gel Couture varnishes as a slightly cheaper alternative. I wasn’t expecting anything ground breaking, as they only promise to provide a gel ‘like’ finish, and to be more long lasting than the usual varnish. It’s a shame, because I have loads of Essie colours in the regular varnish, but I do find they chip away within a day or so, and that just doesn’t work for me.
The Gel Couture range has a good amount of colours, and luckily they’ve stuck with more of the classic, wearable colours so that you can stand to wear them for 2 weeks at a time. I went with a classic red, ‘Rock the Runway’ and the topcoat. The shape of the bottle is definitely funky, and it’s a great way of differentiating the standard varnish from the Gel Couture. I love the Essie brushes, they’re so easy to apply a coat to one nail with one sweep, and the slightly thicker consistency of the varnish made that even easier. Each coat dries very quickly too – they say to leave 60 seconds between each, though I leave longer between the second coat of colour and the top coat, to save any colour transference from the brush to the clear bottle.
I was really impressed with the way the varnish came out. It doesn’t look super thick and round like shellac (I can’t think of any other way of describing it, but I’m hoping you’ll know what I mean!) but it does have a slightly glossier, gel-like shine to it. It covers up the ridges in my nails better than most varnishes do, which makes a nice change. The Gel Couture range says it can last up to 14 days, so the countdown began!
Unfortunately I did catch my thumbnails that evening, but as they are the digits in most use I was happy to let that one go. I’m not expecting indestructible varnish, just something that means I don’t have to reapply once every three days and keeps my nails that bit stronger. After a couple of days I was still really impressed, barely any sign of wear at all, which is considering I type at a computer all day, and cook dinners from scratch every evening. A couple of days later and a few chips had started to show, but I was still pleased because other nail varnishes also start to peel off completely once the first chips appear, and there was none of that at all.
Finally, a week in and the nails were all showing a few too many signs of wear and tear. Even though the product stated two weeks, I’m still really pleased with the results as my nails are still in tact, and a week is still three times as long as other varnishes I’ve used! I even think next time I’ll be able to get longer out of them, as I didn’t brush the edge tips of my nails with the top coat to seal them in completely. We’ll give that a go and see what happens! I just need to slowly get myself a few more colours now to mix things up a bit.