Soak Off Gel vs Nail Polish

    Good morning, Dear Reader!

    I decided to get over myself and deal with uneven nails for a week for many reasons, the greatest of them being that I wouldn't like myself as much if I were so high maintenance that I'd change it right away.  I've also been enjoying have sparkling pink nails far too much to interfere with them, so I figured that today I'd show you some better pictures of IBD Be Mine and do a rundown of what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of the soak off gel (or gel polish) as compared to nail polish from my current newbie point of view.  I'm sure in a month I'll have even more opinions, but it seemed like it might be useful to do now as well.

    When I took pictures of Be Mine on Saturday, I wasn't yet over myself or my uneven nails enough to take the seventeen trillion different pictures it took to get a couple that are color accurate and show the cool glitter, but I am today.  I didn't want to sell this one short because I really fell in love with it when I saw a color dot on IBD's site.  It's in a Valentine's Day set called Kiss and Tell with three other colors for $25, but after doing some heavy-duty searching, I found it for $9 shipped, which was reasonable enough to try it.  So far, I'm thrilled, but since it's pink glitter in a pink base, that's predictable.  It still took two pictures to give you a fair look.

    IBD Soak Off Glitter Gel Be Mine
    IBD Soak Off Glitter Gel in Be Mine, Accurate for Base Color

    IBD Soak Off Glitter Gel in Be Mine
    IBD Soak Off Glitter Gel in Be Mine, Better View of Glitter
    It seemed like it might be handy to have gel pictures on the same page as the pros and cons for visual reference, but since we're all really clear on what nail polish looks like, it didn't seem necessary to put a picture in for that.  To compare them, I'll just start at the start, and my use of the word "gel" refers to both soak off gel and soak off gel polish.

    • Nail Prep: gel carries two extra steps, application of primer and bonder.  Otherwise, it's the same as for polish, just filing, cuticle care, and cleaning up, but as we see this week, errors in filing aren't as easily corrected with gel since breaking the seal on the gel kind of defeats the purpose of wearing it.  I prefer nail polish for this part.
    • Application: nail polish is much, much faster.  For me, neither is easier because a consequence of the slower pace of gel application allows for greater care to be taken, which makes it easier.  Mistakes with gel application can largely be corrected before curing, with the exception of the thing giving me a hassle, perfectly even sealer that doesn't touch any skin, applied with a nail polish brush.  It's so shiny that it's difficult to tell that it's uneven, and in both gel applications I've flooded one corner of one cuticle with sealer.  Next time, I'll apply it with a gel brush and that may solve that.  I prefer the outcome of gel application, but my attention span strikes again making it difficult for me to wait for things to cure between steps, so as far as the actual process of application, I prefer nail polish by a lot.
    • Wear: here, gel very obviously is preferable.  My Gelicure Hot Pink lasted only six days with zero wear showing  (chips, worn edges, and break in the seal) because the outgrowth bothered me.  One of these days I'll have the nerve to commit to wear one until there's a chip.
    • Appearance:  gel's a clear winner to me because of the finish - it's really much more shiny than polish can be.  The Be Mine manicure pictured above is finished with a sealer not as shiny as last week's and it's on its third day.  Even at that, it's shinier than polish with Seche Vite or Diamont an hour after applying it.  I think the fact that I can say that when the gel's a heavy glitter with one super thin coat of sealer is pretty impressive - it would take a ton of top coat to smooth out that much glitter in a polish.
    • Protection of Nails: protecting my nails has always been just as important as appearance with wearing nail polish.  My nails break almost immediately if they're bare, and polish does a decent job of keeping them okay.  Gel, however, does an amazing job.  In addition to not breaking, my nails aren't wearing down in their usual spots from everyday life, and this is the first time that has ever happened.
    • Removal: nail polish is way easier for me.  The biggest complaint I have about soak off gels in general is putting the stupid foil on my nails, it's just such a ridiculous hassle.  If I'm going to be adult and reasonable, I'll admit that it's a weird annoyance and it's not really a big deal, but either way, polish is far easier.  There's also the fact that in trying a new to me brand (IBD) and a new to me product (soak off gel in pots rather than a polish bottle), I am concerned about whether it will come off, which simply isn't an issue with polish (I always know that even the scariest glitter will eventually come off).
    • Other: I had a slightly odd experience with the IBD gel over the weekend - late Saturday afternoon, my nails started to feel a little too tight for my nails beds.  Not painful or bad, just like they were about three pounds to heavy for the jeans they wore to a good Italian restaurant where they loaded up on pasta.  It's gone now, but was odd.  The other thing worth mentioning for me is the convenience of gel as a base for nail art - I find I'm willing to spend 20 minutes decorating, where if I have to apply a polish base I'm far less motivated by the time I'm able to finish it, and there's also the benefit of unlimited do-overs with gel as the base for nail art done in polish.
    That's just about all that I can think of that has occurred to me thus far in the grave matter of soak off gel versus polish, Dear Reader, so I suppose I'll just wrap it up.  Until next time, love and nail polish to you!

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