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UV Gel Nails

Updated on September 4, 2008

UV Gel Nails


For years, I envied women with beautiful nails but I was afraid of acrylic nails. I'd heard all of the bad things about it, and instead suffered with manicures that chipped a day or two later. That, or I attempted to do my own nails, which was akin to having a three year old do one's nails. It was U-G-L-Y. However, I work with clients now, and couldn't suffer having hands I sat on all day. UV Gel Nails are a newer technique which has gotten pretty popular in salons. As someone who was afraid of acrylics, I was thrilled when I heard it was pretty healthy for your nails. So, I decided to try it.

Although there are many methods for creating a beautiful UV Gel nail, there are of course some basics. The first time one sits for gel nails, if your nails are short, they'll likely apply and glue false nails to your nails if they're too short. Afterwards, they'll cut them down with a unique false nail cutter. After this has happened, they will begin to apply the UV Gel. This is usually in a small compact jar that looks akin to a skin creme jar. The basic colors are clear and pink. With what looks like a small paintbrush or eyeshadow application brush, the gel will be dropped onto the farthest part of your nail and circled around as if one's pouring ice cream into a cone. The gel is then spread from that area onto the whole nail and painted on, one finger at a time. After a finger is "painted" with gel, it is then put into a mini UV oven to bake the gel.

Now, if this sounds like it hurts, unfortunately it often does. However, all salons offer something to deal with the pain, although they all have different options. The first salon I tried recommended that I "push" the nails against the bottom of the UV oven to reduce the pain. I'm not sure how or why this worked, but it did. The second salon I've been to offered a little fan to cool my nails if it heated up too much. After the gel has been applied, should the client decide upon a french nail, which is the most popular look, there are several options for applying it. Three of the ways I've seen are to spray paint the white on, and then gel over it; dremel-shave the tip, apply white gel to the area and then bake it on, or pain on a white tip, much like a normal french manicure. The options are dependent upon the methods of the salon. None are right or better than another, just different options.

So now you're saying, I've gotten my first UV Gel nails done, it's great, now what? One of most appealing aspects of UV Gels are how long they last, which is usually four to five weeks. For the busy woman on the go who needs to look her best at all times, this is fabulous. But what happens when they start looking a little less than fabulous? The nail will grow forward, the gel will get a little cloudy on the sides and if you wait too long, the gel nail or the false nail underneath might pop off. Yes, this hurts. Imagine being in the dark for 5 weeks and suddenly facing the light. Although the newly grown in nail is healthy, the covered nail is much like an 18 year old off to college - used to being overprotected and suddenly vulnerable now. I'd highly recommend getting to your salon before this happens, although no one will notice if you pop the nail and/or the gel top back on with Krazy Glue. Trust me on this one! Now, if your nails are popping off before three and a half weeks, you need to go back and have it fixed or possibly consider another salon.

Now, when you need to go back, you will be getting what's known as refills. Unless you choose to get an entirely new redo of your nails, you will get refills from here on in. Refills are cheaper than the original, usually by about half, although the price varies depending upon where you go. Now, when you get refills, what will happen is that any nails that have popped off will have the rest of the gel removed, usually using nail clippers, scissors, or a false nail to get under the gel. I'd like to lie and say it doesn't hurt, but it's not the best feeling. However, it doesn't last long, and rarely does this to happen unless a nail has fallen off, or likely will soon. What usually happens is that your manicurist will utilize an electrical file, which is actually a dremel drill (yes, a tool your boyfriend or husband knows a bit about, and one you can operate with these nails without worry!) to lower the level of the gel closer to the actual nail so that s/he can paint on the new gel without having a bilevel look. The dremel drill is also useful for shortening the nails if they've grown too long, although I've seen actual nail files used to shorten them as well as file down the gel on top as well.

Although it is a refill, the time for the work will be about the same: 45 minutes to an hour. Often, the white of the french manicure will be shaved off as well so that the manicurist has a clean slate to work with. After the gel bed has been shaved down, the manicurist will then go ahead and apply much of the same technique as the first time around, painting on gel, baking it on, and then if chosen, applying her or his method of the french nail.

I briefly touched upon cost above, but let me go into it a little bit more. The first time you get UV Gel nails, there will be an initial cost which will be higher than anytime afterwards, unless you choose to fully remove your nails and start over again. I did this once after a rather poor job from a previous salon left me thoroughly unhappy with my nails. It's also suggested after 6 or so months if your nails grow very slowly (such as for older women) to do this just to give the nails a bit of breathability. Your refills will likely cost a bit more than half of the original cost. Although the cost seems a bit high, I tend to break it down over the weeks, and it costs a bit less per week than if I were to get a basic manicure every week. That is the cost of just the basic manicure - remember, there's the cost of tip as well, not to mention the time spent every week to get that basic manicure! Therefore, I find the price to constantly have gorgeous nails workable. Please remember to tip your manicurist at least 20%. When you've gone through this experience, you'll see that she or he has definitely earned it!

I enjoy having nails that are beautiful, easy to maintain, stand up to hard work, and get noticed, and not for all the wrong reasons! If you're considering getting UV Gels, this former hand-sitter highly recommends it! Good luck and comment and let me know about your experiences with UV Gel nails please!


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    • profile image

      shortnails 2 years ago

      I find the 20% tip quite a lot. It equals 20% of the original price non-taxed income by the technician. How can you ask anyone else in the society to pay the taxes regulated by the law, while you are not paying yours? I wish a better society for Dara A., where you don't have to take tips = you don't have to cheat and steal in order to make a decent living, because everyone will pay you the price you deserve even with taxation!

    • profile image

      martinnetsims 5 years ago

      you ok steven it took me ages to find it this is there link

      and some info , there there most competitive in the game ,tell them martin n told you to ring

    • profile image

      Alexandraalysia 5 years ago

      Just so everyone knows, your nails are not supposed to hurt from uv gels. This pain is caused my the nail tech using a dremmel which removes to much of your natural nail. This then exposes your nail bed to the gel. The uv light is used to cure the gel which is now fusing to your nail bed instead of your natural nail. This is unsafe. Please reconsider the nail salon you use to prevent any harm to yourself.

    • profile image

      tan 5 years ago

      This was a very interesting article. I will be looking into it.

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      Rebecca in SC 5 years ago

      This is my third time getting gel nails, the first time was a year ago and it did hurt for about a day and a half. But I contribute that to never having had my nails done prior to that. The second time I had the gel completely removed and did a new didn't hurt. My nail bed has adjusted at this point to the foreign object and filing. Now, one year later after completely removing gel to let my nail bed breath, I've done the gel again. And once again, just like the FIRST time, they hurt. But my nails are beautiful.

    • profile image

      yogancheezeit 5 years ago


      it was pretty cool! Gel on your nails...who woulda thought! GELLLL!

    • profile image

      MasterNail tech 5 years ago

      UV gel nails should never be painful! When there is a pain sensation remove your hand ad get your tech to spray acolhol on them! If you don't you are burning your nail beds.

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      Stephanie 5 years ago

      These are beautiful nails, just what I keep trying to get but they never look as stunning... How do you find the best nail salons? Xxx

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      Tricia 5 years ago

      I'm not sure where I should go to get mine done here in Carrollton Texas. Every place I go to says they have to put acrylic down first and put a UV 'top coat' on top of that. I don't want that! I keep trying to tell them I want tips with UV gel. And I get the same reply, 'oh, well if we do it that way there will be a line and they will be weak. What do I do? What do I specifically ask for when looking for a salon to do UV gel nails?

    • profile image

      Amanda 5 years ago

      I was all about color acrylic nails since the color wouldn't chip but of course they would lift after only a week. My friend took me to her salon to get uv gel tips for the first time 8 months ago and I've been going ever since! Its the same process you have explained except she uses clear gel and puts colored glitter as the color! I get compliments from everyone everywhere...I mean they are pricey, $90 for a full set but they last 4-6 weeks so its totally worth it. I'm from manhattan and travel all the way to staten island to get them done. :)

    • Sheila Lee profile image

      Sheila Lee 5 years ago from Canada

      How long gels last depends on your lifestyle. I'm a Nail Tech and only do gel nails. Preparation of the nail is VITAL. It can take a while to push the cuticles, remove the dead skin on the nail, clip off any loose, dead skin, then buff the top and remove the oils/dust. Not done properly, it will cause lifting.

      Dark brown spots could be a sign of a fungus. If water or moisture gets under them, not a good thing. If the nail chipped and you didn't do anything to cause this, it is a sign of either bad preparation or the gel being too thick on the sides, or not pulling the gel all the way to the edges and just under the nail, thus sealing it.

      I've read past posts about "burning" under a UV lamp. This is caused by putting too thick a layer of gel on the nail. If this happens, just pull your nail out of the lamp quickly for a second or two and then put it back in. As soon as your nail hits the regular air outside the lamp the pain disappears right away.

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      Tiffany 6 years ago

      I just got UV Gel nails done this weekend. They have pearl colored tips underneath, and are beautiful, but the very next day one of them chipped, and two days later, 3 of them have dark brown spots on the edges. They look burned..I have no clue why they are like this...they just turned. Does anyone know why this happened?

    • profile image

      El 6 years ago

      Just spent 70 dollars to have fill ins because it was 4 weeks between blossom nails in rockville centre this fair...won't be going back there...

    • profile image

      keleigh 6 years ago

      this is my first time going too get my nails done i have a friend adult and she said the ones she has are like glass i want those so bad but i don't know how much they cost?

    • profile image

      Annette 6 years ago

      Gel nails should never hurt or burn! There are improved resins that will cost more to use but it's worth it. Canadian company INT out of Edmonton is just one that will never burn.

    • profile image

      Anna 6 years ago

      UV Gel nails should not hurt at all. At worst you could feel a little tingle while they are baking. Filling them down for a refill should also no hurt. This article is misleading from that perspective.

      If the nail technician is bad, or the product is crap, then sure it might hurt, peel and look terrible. That's anything in life. A good technician using quality products will produce great looking, long lasting and pain free nails.

    • profile image

      martina 6 years ago

      hi gels are price from 40 euro to 25 to 30 ok

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      Haley 6 years ago

      I'm 14 and have gel nails the pain from the uv light almost made me pass out! Due to the pain I have decided not to get them refilled and just take them off on my own cause they are way to outgrown(I looked up how to online)

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      jenny 6 years ago

      Can i use anything else as a uv gel cleanser other than gel cleaner or alcohol?

    • profile image

      Emily 6 years ago

      Great hub, thanks for posting!

    • profile image

      Gel Nails 6 years ago

      Thanks for the post. I love the way you narrate the gel nail procces

    • profile image

      lauren 6 years ago

      I totally agree uv gel nails are awesome, I have them as well i got them taken off for a couple months and my nails were still very healthy underneath.

      To me they are not painful but to some with sensitive nails i can understand if it is.

      But to answer a couple questions bio gel and uv are very different i have had bio gel and they chipped after a day and i went somewhere else and they chipped after a week.

      If u don't work or use ur hands much i would recommend them but don't go to grace nails downtown toronto on carlton st . they are aweful.

      Once in a while i would recommend taking ur nails off to let them breathe, but i love having nails there great.

    • profile image

      Millie 6 years ago

      I just had french tips applied & was wondering if I could shape them some more with out it messing them up?

    • profile image

      Yellow Nails 6 years ago

      I have UV gel nails and after a week and a half they turn a disgusting yellow color and lift on the sides. After some research I found out that cheap product was the culprit as I don't tan or use hand lotion. My question is this- how do you determine if a salon uses cheap product, aside from throwing away $25 on a fill? Is there a particular brand or manufacturer that I should ask for?

    • profile image

      Kim 6 years ago

      Please advise, how can you find a good gel nail salon in your town? I tried them at one salon and it was a disaster! Do they need to file the natural nail to apply the gel? I would love to find a local salon that does a great job but am at a loss as to how to look. Any suggestions? I'm in the Clearwater, Florida area. Thanks

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      mel 6 years ago

      Actually gel nails can be painful if they are applied too thick. When they cure under the uv light, the gel "shrinks" and may cause pain if they are not applied correctly.

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      Nece 6 years ago

      I've had gel and acrylics. For me I really prefer the Gel nails for several reasons. They wear better, last longer and I think are better for your real nail than the acrylics. I've decided to purchase all the gel stuff a person needs to do my own and save myself money in the long run. I know how to do the steps on apply gel on my nails. I've been doing research to try to find the best gel products out there to buy. Does anyone have suggestions?

    • profile image

      alex 6 years ago


      gel nails don't hurt at all... you don't even feel the baking... and your real nail doesn't come off... it'll take the gels weeks to come off... and they'll come off themselves or if you're that freaked get a technician to do it, that's what i do.

    • profile image

      sarah 6 years ago

      hi im going to get gel nails but i don't know what's the price. i live in brooklyn new york.

    • profile image

      Alex 6 years ago

      hi. im was going to get these gel nails but i am very very afraid it will hurt when i get them on like u mentioned when they r bakingthey will hurt also u said it would hurt if they pop off..if they fall of does it hurt and when they fall off does ur rreal nail come off?

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      Missy 7 years ago

      I'm not sure if other people experience pain during the application process or during the removal process for a fill, but I had no discomfort what so ever. It was amazing. I highly recommend it. It does take about 1.5 hours to get the nails done.

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      Jessica 7 years ago

      I just got the uv gel set yesterday and I absolutely love them. I live in Yonkers and out here they ate pretty pricy, a whopping $100.00 and the fill ins are $35.00 or $55.00 depending on whether you want the white part or a general fill in and that is fine every three worth it

    • profile image

      Lisa 7 years ago

      Do I have to use my uv light for my uv gel, I am asking because I cannot find my uv light anywhere?And as it is nearly christmas I am wanting to put them on. Thankyou

    • profile image 7 years ago

      I have been doing gel for two years and I LUV them. Here is my opinion: any service breakdown (I.e. Cracks and lifting) is most likely caused by a couple if things: poor application and cheap product line. Gel nails alone do not just crack for no reason or lift. You need to find a good tech in your area if you would like to try. They are thin, easy to maintain, and they have a beautiful shine! They are also more flexible, require less filing on the natural nail, and new sets are not necessary to maintain upkeep. I have clients that go THREE weeks between fills and they're nails still look perfect.

      For more information visit my blog at

      Or you can see pictures on my new facebook page

      Search Unique.Nails by Keri

      And click Like!

    • profile image

      christie 7 years ago

      I have UV Gel on my nails right now, i absolutely love it! Originally I bit my nails, but this has made me stop and helped them grow. I recommend this to everyone and anyone!

    • profile image

      Julimar 7 years ago

      Nice article. I have been getting UV gels for years. I was wondering if I need to give my nails a break. Or is it okay to maintain the gels.

    • profile image

      Sharlene 7 years ago

      @Lisa I am a nail technician... in order to remove the tips u hv to buff them off with a 100/180 grit file. They will come off don't worry. Just be sure not to buff your natural nail!!

    • profile image

      Lisa 7 years ago

      help i cant get my white tips off, i just assumed they would fall off but they've been on for about 4 weeks now my real nails are visibly growing and i need them off. how do i get them off?

    • profile image

      Amber 7 years ago

      I just got UV gel overlay on my real nails and I love it, I will never have another fake tip or not have my nails without the gel. They look completely natural and I am a nurse so being able to have pretty nails without color on them is wonderful.

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      Meg 7 years ago

      I have little nails, and theya re thin. I would love to get gel nails, but i'm not sure if this is a good idea. I am 14 would i be able to get them done?

    • profile image

      kat 7 years ago

      For me u need to wait till the time your nails will get better and then have your nails done..i have gel nails they are awsome looking so natural :)

      take care

    • profile image

      su 7 years ago

      ok so this means that uv gel doesn't weaken your nails as would acrylic? Because i want to jus get the uv gel done but my nails are already a little to weak .... acrylic nails really jacked them up ... So i want nice nails that don't chip but i also don't want them getting any weaker than they are.

    • profile image

      Nail Supplies 7 years ago

      This site do really lovely colour gels as well as soak off and glitter gels. Probably the best nail supplier in England.

    • profile image

      belen 7 years ago

      Dear Friend:

      Good morning!

      This is Belen from Wenier Nail Art Beauty Co.,Ltd which in China.

      We are a professional nail factory in China,we can offer you more than 2000 kinds of nail products with high quality and competitive price,such as uv lamp,nail art brush,manicure machine,depilatory heater,nail dryer,nail collector,nail tools,nail file & buffer, nail table,beauty chair, acrylic powder,acrylic liquid,uv gel products,nail tips,ultrasonic cleaner,towel warmer,empty bottle etc.

      More details?please visit our website:

      Should you be interested in any of them,please feel free to contact me.Thanks.

      Best regards.




      Wenier Nail Art Beauty Co.,Ltd



      Skype: mr-belen


      Tel: (+86) 020-26273983

    • profile image

      Nicole Gonzalez 7 years ago

      I went to Dyanna Spa in NYC and my initial reaction to my new set of UV Gel French Tip was WHOA! I AM IN LOVE! After the hype went down (yes, do top 20%-the work is a lot) I really inspected my nails. I noticed sort of "stress mark" looking lines under two of the nails. The sides of the nails became cloud and after 9 days all the nails have cloudy sides like you mentioned in your article. It may be because my nails grew so quickly over night and over those 9 days. I am going back today. Management wants to see this for themselves. I just expected the nails to "look" like new for a longer period of time. Sure they are strong as heck but the actual look means just as much to me. I am a busy working woman and also go to school fulltime. This sort of thing is good for me but I also can't be walking around with "cheap" looking nails. LOL I hope I don't offend the manicurist!

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      Sharon 7 years ago

      I had acrylic nails for years, but when I took them off, which was 3 years ago, my nails were a mess...soft,cracked and ridgy. Now I have just heard of bio sculpture nails. I was told that they were good for your nails. Is this true and what is the difference between regular gel nails and bio sculpture nails. Are they really "healthy" for our nails.

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      katie 7 years ago

      i got my gel nails done 6 days ago and they are starting to lift up. you know when you slam you finger in a door and lose part of you nail and how your nail grows back weird well mine are doing that to the gel nails i don't know if that should be happening but i would like to know what to do

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      Sherri 7 years ago

      I just recently had the gel nails done. I am not sure what the proper process is. The nail tech I used put a white powder on my nails. I asked her several times if it was acrylic and she said no & called it white powder. I would like to know what the difference is between a white powder and acrylic. Anyway, she put them under the uv light & then applied the gel on my nails. We once again did the uv light. She then painted them with a regular type polish. It wasn't gel polish. Soooo, I would like to know another nail techs opinion on this process. By the way, my nails look great.

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      Nail lady 7 years ago

      I am a nail tech in Jackson ms and I do only gel no acrylic. My prices are the same as our two acrylic nail techs. I could and should charge more bc the product is a lot more expensive but do not because I do not want to detour people from trying them.

      My gels are SO thin u cannot even tell that they are not real. My favorite way of applying is with sculpting because there is no weakness of a superglued on tip. I definitely recommend everyone giving them a try!!

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      Michelle 7 years ago

      I never had acrylic nails because they seem like a bad idea, as I've heard a lot of bad comments about them. I just finished trying silk wraps for the past month or so but I took it off today. I wanted to try UV gel nails but the place I went to had them at a $70 price. I was wondering what is the variation of the pricing for UV Gel nails? My nails break easy and I want good looking nails without having to go back every two weeks. I also didn't like the silk wrap because they used acrylic powder and I prefer not to have anything acrylic. How much have you paid for UV Gel Nails?

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      megan 7 years ago

      I've had acrylic, but poorly done ones that ripped the top layer of my already thin nails off, so I got acrylic nails again just to "protect" my awful, painful nails. I tried to soak them off in acetone, but to no avail. I went to a salon who recommended the uv gels as a a less damaging option. As the tech was removing the remnants of acrylic, she said i had nail fungus on two of my nails! I got the gels on them anyway, but now I'm petrified. Part of me wants to remove the gels and treat my nail w/ an antifungal, but I'm afraid that my real nails will be so weak and painful.


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      Aaliyah 7 years ago

      is that gel nails or bio sculpture gel nails. Or is there even an a differnece

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      Pauline 7 years ago

      Enjoyed reading your article.

    • Nail Technician profile image

      Nail Technician 7 years ago

      Great hub! When it comes to gel nails, you need to make sure to be a bit more careful than you would with acrylics. Gels are so much stronger than your regular nails which is great, and they are a lot more comfortable to wear (have you ever had an acrylic lift on you? OUCH!)

      @Ashley, i have never heard of anyone mixing acrylic and UV, i would assume you would want to take off the acrylic with a buffer and apply a new tip and then a full gel nail so that you can treat the living nail properly and make sure that you don't have 2 different materials on top of each other. but check out there may be more answers there.

      Have a great Day! :)

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      Ashley 7 years ago

      hi i was wondering about arylic nails. i want to paint them red and was interested in using the uv top coat for arylic nails at home? now i just purchase the uv light i just need to know what uv top coat is the best to use over painted arylic nails?

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      b1fairyb1 8 years ago

      i just had the UV gels done and they cost me 25.00 and the result of them are fabulous.althought one of them have chipped,do i just go back and have to done again,but they are great,they are great for work school and going out. would recommended to anyone to have them done!!!

    • profile image

      Julie 8 years ago

      I have gel tips.. can i paint them with a pink nail polish then put a uv top coat on?

    • Silverlining profile image

      Tracy Behr 8 years ago from Port Elizabeth

      I've never heard of uv gel! I use to always get the acrylic put on, but now recently I've decided to grow my own nails...

    • profile image

      Danielle 8 years ago

      As a recommendation from my mother, I got uv gel nails done recently. I love the way they look and the fact that they last much longer than a standard tip with powder. I love my nails. Sadly though the salon my mother and I go to have very rude employees and now I am on a search for a salon that does a good a job without the rudeness. This article was wonderful and insightful to read hopefully i will find a good salon in my area.

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      Jess 8 years ago

      My god this did NOT work

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      Susan Goodman 8 years ago

      im thinking about getting some sort of fake nail applied, if i chose a gel nail;do i have to have a long nail to get them applied so the gel can reach the point that i would like it to?

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      Kristina 9 years ago

      At first I avoided wearing <a href=" nails</a>thinking that thete is nothing better than natural nails.However last weak I was encouraged by my friend to wear them.So now I am pleased.It allowes me to wash up without fearing to spoil them.Besides, they look beautiful.They make my fingers look much more beautiful and appealing to an eye.

    • nailtechnician profile image

      nailtechnician 9 years ago

      Hi I've worked with Creative, OPI and NSI gel systems. Just changed to La Femme after finding her supplies on here and sooo happy I did.

      The La Femme gel system is by far the best I have worked with.

    • lafemmenails profile image

      lafemmenails 9 years ago


      Nice article, UV gels are fab if you can take a little time to learn the process.

      Applied correctly the results are stunning and the nails very long lasting.