I must confess... I'm cheating. I have been trying to grow my nails out for months with no luck. I have been using all sorts of nail treatments to help them grow but nothing seems to be working. Every time my nails get any sort of length they break. On the bright side, my nails are peeling less so I guess it's not all bad. I have also started taking a Biotin supplement, which is supposed to promote nail growth and health. I will report back on this in 2 months when hopefully I will see some results. However, I am impatient and have decided to do tip extensions. I know, I know, I'm sorry. Since I am attempting to make my nails healthier, I wanted to avoid acrylics and gel extensions (the kind that is similar to acrylics and uses a gel powder base). I eventually decided to do a gel manicure (gel nail polish dried with a UV light) over tip extensions. Gel polish does destroy the nail like typical acrylics do, granted it still isn't the best thing for your nails.
Now, I've never been one to go to the salon and pay obnoxious amounts to get my nails done. It just never seemed logical to me when the supplies are not that expensive. So of course I did these myself too. I followed this wonderful tutorial by the Polished Mommy: Adding Length to Your Natural Nail.
In the tutorial, she uses the gelish brand products. You can get the basic kit here and the UV light here. That combination is $55. I used Red Carpet Manicure since that's what they had at Ulta. You can purchase the full set here for $60. I, however, am a grad student without $55-60 to shell out on nail products. After further investigation, I learned you really only need 3 things: the base coat, the top coat, and the UV Light. That's still $40 but I got it for $32 with one of Ulta's many 20% off coupons.
Now, some of you may be wondering about all the other stuff in the kit. Well, I'll break it down for you.
Erase = Acetone with coloring
Purify = Rubbing alcohol with coloring
Prep = Rubbing alcohol
I have successfully substituted these things for the official RCM components with no problems what so ever.
If you didn't feel like watching the full 15 minute video tutorial I linked to above, here's the basic breakdown:
- Trim nails down short
- Find nail tips that fit your nail (like these) Make sure to use clear or natural colored for the most natural look unless you specifically want the french looking white tip
- Glue tips to natural nails
- Cut/file nails down to desired length and shape
- Place a line of nail glue along the seam where the fake and natural nail meet
- Use a nail buffer (like this) to smooth out the glue and buff the shine off the fake nail
- Wash hands to remove any dust
- Wipe each nail with rubbing alcohol
- Apply a VERY thin layer of the UV gel base coat and cure under the UV light for 1 minute. You will have to do each hand and the thumbs separately unless you have a full hand UV light. Note - nails will remain sticky
- Apply the nail color of your choice. You can use the UV Gel Nail Color polishes but I just use regular nail polish and it works just fine
- Apply a VERY thin layer of the UV top coat and cure under the UV light for 2 minutes. Note - nails will remain sticky
- Apply some rubbing alcohol to a paper towel and wipe the stickiness off you nails and you're done!
It seems like a lot of work but it only took me an hour from start to finish to do each hand.
I used Sinful Colors You Just Wait. It was a little more sheer than I wanted so you can still see the line where the fake nail overlaps the natural nail. Oh well, lesson learned.
As you can see, the final product looks pretty natural. Since you apply a very thin layer of polish to the nail, the final result is the same thickness as a regularly painted nail. Now you can paint and decorate these nails just like you would your regular nail. Just remember to ONLY use NON-ACETONE nail polish remover to change colors. The gel softens when exposed to acetone, since that is how it is removed.