Tuesday, January 21, 2014

my secret to a badass mommy mani

Confession: I'm kind of obsessed with my fingernails. Not in an unhealthy way, but more like if they're unkempt I feel super ashamed and disheveled and find it hard to make eye contact with people. (That's normal, right?) And I NEVER leave the house with chipped polish. Ever. My nails don't necessarily HAVE to be painted - bare and buffed is just fine sometimes - but they must NEVER be chipped. I just can't handle it. It's my one OCD thing. Everybody has one. My nails are mine. Anyway, I always do them myself because A) I can't fathom shelling out X amount of dollars for a pro to do it, and B) ain't nobody got time for that. Not me, anyway. Plus, I like my nails short and my polish simple, so I really don't need a professional's help. Give me some clippers, a file and a bottle of Essie and I'm good. I got this.
But there is one area in which my amateur manis are lacking: longevity. Even with a base and top coat, I usually only get about five days out of my manicure. I just do too much with my hands every day. Laundry, dishes, opening boxes of diapers with my lady claws like a manic tigress because there's poop all over the living room, that kind of stuff. I'm hard on my nails. Polish just doesn't stand a chance. I've thought about trying one of those at-home gel manicure kits, but they're pretty pricey considering you can only use them a few times. So when I started seeing these "shellac hack" do-it-yourself gel manicures on Pinterest, I was intrigued. I checked a few of them out and actually wound up having great success with this one from Corinne at Mint Arrow. I did have to buy two new bottles of product, BUT I'll be able to use them over and over for a long time, unlike a kit with limited use.  
While I'm super pleased with the end result of that tutorial, I found I had to modify the process to fit my needs and lifestyle. For instance, there are six (six!) steps/coats in this method, and you're supposed to wait for each one to dry completely before applying the next. And then of course you have to perch on a toadstool or whatever while the whole shebang dries and sets. All in all we're talking an hour or so of your time, at least. That might be fine for some people but not for a lot of mommies. And definitely not for me, unless I get up in the middle of the night and creep down to my kitchen to paint my nails like some kind of weirdo. No thank you. But that's okay! There IS a way to do it that still results in a beautiful, LASTING manicure and doesn't take an hour straight to complete.
This is the method that works for ME, a crazy-busy mom of three, including an infant who likes to be snuggled tight and often. It produces a tough-as-nails (heh heh) mani that will outlast and outshine any other at-home job to help you feel at least a little more polished (heh heh) and put together. My God I love puns.
Sally Hansen Hard As Wraps (got mine at Target)
Gelous Nail Gel (got mine at Sally's)
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat (got mine at Sally's)
*Note: this is the most insanely fantastic top coat I've ever used. Period. And I do NOT get sponsored, thankyouverymuch!
1. Obviously trim and file your nails. Duh.
2. CLEAN YOUR NAILS! This is possibly the MOST important step, and I'm shocked at how many tutorials leave it out. It's not hard! Just swab them with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and let them dry before you begin painting. This gives the paint a clean canvas to adhere to. Otherwise your mani will just slide all over the natural oils on your nail bed. No bueno.
3. Apply polish in this order:

1 coat Hard As Wraps
1 coat Gelous
1 coat Polish (or two if it's very sheer, as mine was)
1 coat Gelous
1 coat Polish
1 coat Seche Vite

That's it.

But here's the super special secret that makes it work for busy mommies:
If you don't have time to do the whole mani at once, DON'T. Do as many coats as time allows, let 'em dry and go about your business chasing babies and being awesome. Then later, when you get another slice of time to yourself, SWAB YOUR NAILS WITH RUBBING ALCOHOL and pick back up with the next coat of polish. Yep! As long as you make sure those digits are free from schmear and oil, you can totally hit pause on the whole thing and start again later. And THAT'S what makes this shellac hack successful for busy madres. My secret is out!

4. When you're ready, you can remove your mani with regular old nail polish remover. It comes off as easily as any other polish. If you're lucky it'll peel off like stickers when you're ready - mine did!
*TIP: If your nails get a little dull after a few days, clean them and top 'em off with a fresh coat of Seche Vite. Since it dries so fast, it's a quickie touch-up and it'll get your mani gleaming again.
My nails.
Please pardon my cuticles - I ain't no beauty blogger.

This lasted and was SHINY for a solid ten days before a few fingers started to peel up around the edges a bit. I would post a pic of the tenth day, but I'm an idiot and started to peel the polish off while sitting on the couch with the kids reading bedtime stories. I'll remember next time and post a pic! 

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!  


  1. I am trying this as I type! I am a server, and looking for ways to save money. I don't have $30 to spend every 2 weeks on shellac! And this let's us switch up the colors :-) Thanks!

  2. Just thought you might like to know that pool water (chlorine) will peel your nail polish off without it being touched so swimming with your nails done in this manner is a no go

  3. How long does your method take to dry?

  4. i am so happy to see someone with "real" nails for a change. go gurl!!!

  5. SIX steps AND dry time?! I do not have that kind of time.... Do yourselves a favor and look up Jamberry. They are ONE step (after prep which IS key), contain no chemicals, Require no drytime, and last (for real) for two weeks. Only reason I have to take them off is that they're growing out. Oh and....they would only cost you $15 a month (tops) to wear.

    1. She's so right! Jamberry all the way! I'll never go back. Forget polish, I'll take thos Jamberry nail wraps any day! Go look it up and find your nearest consultat. Definitely give it a try. They are AMAZING!

  6. Better option, just use 1 coat Rock hard, 1-2 coats ANY regular (NOT quick dry) color and 1 coat Rock Top coat cure with UV or sunlight, Rock products available at Sally's, dry faster and comes off with regular remover. I've tried the Gelous and Seche Vite and pferfer this method.

  7. Your the only other Nia I've heard of, and I agree I love this hac.. 2 Nias' make a right ;-)