Yes, it’s 2018, and yes, I’ve officially left behind my wooden cart and my donkey and ye olden times to join the modern world because — GASP! — I got a salon gel manicure for the first time a few weeks ago.

I know, I know, I’m only eight years late to the party, but here’s the deal: beauty-wise, nails are something I can actually do myself, and I can usually do a pretty decent job, which I attribute to steady hands after 16 years of playing classical piano.

So, 1) I very rarely get my nails done at a salon, and 2) even when I have, I never saw the point of getting a gel nail mani after hearing so many nightmare stories from friends about how gel mains absolutely trashed their nails.

Never say never
But you know how it is — one should never say never in Beauty Land! The opportunity presented itself for me to get a gel mani a few weeks ago at a brand meet-and-greet in the city, and I carpe diem-ed it with a deep teal from OPI.

I wish I could remember its name, but I can’t. I was too distracted by this sign at the salon…

Like, what does that sign even mean? Are they saying, “Don’t even try to talk to us. Just please shut the hell the up,” or is it code for “feel free to chime in on that group text because we don’t mind if you stare at your phone the whole time?”

And don’t even get me started on Papyrus! I’m just glad it wasn’t Comic Sans…

Three weeks of WOW
Anywho! #rantover. Gel nails. Mine lasted until I got tired of them and wanted them removed — an incredible three weeks — with nary a chip, and trust, I tempted fate during that time, too. I washed dishes and gardened without gloves a few times, and I also made a point to type with mucho fervor when I found out about Nick Jonas getting engaged.

Even though it was fun to actually have a mani that outlasted all of my crazy, by the end of the third week, I was SO DONE. Weirdly enough, the gel polish started feeling heavy, and I felt like my nails couldn’t breathe. (Side note: I have a mild case of claustrophobia.) And I was really annoyed that I couldn’t just chip or peel off the polish on my own. Suddenly, my gel manicure turned into a needy boyfriend who wouldn’t leave me alone, and I desperately wanted to break up with it but couldn’t figure out a way.

The DIY removal route
I googled a few “how to remove gel nails at home” tutorials, and HA HA HA. All I have to say is that unless you love being frustrated while sitting around with foil-covered fingertips, find a salon, and have it done professionally.

I’m sure there are peeps out there who are able to successfully DIY remove their gel nails at home, but I tried twice and failed.

The day after my second attempt, I boogied on down to a salon and paid $7 to have a very nice lady soak, scrape and chisel the gel polish away, and while she was doing this, she talked at great length about how she never, ever does gels on herself because of the damage they cause.

My nails are “tow up”
When she finished, I was relieved to finally see my natural nails again, but man…they looked scratched up and dry, like they’d been buffed within inch of their life with a metal scouring pad, or like I’d been holding hands with Wolverine AND Freddy Krueger.

They should pull through, but I think I’m lucky because my nails are on the tougher side. They haven’t split or peeled thus far (knock on wood), and I’ve been diligently coating them with CND Solar Oil every few hours, which seems to help a lot. It’s gonna be a long time before they’re back to normal, though.

It was the best of times… It was the worst of times…
Needless to say, that was my first and last gel mani. I don’t know how you’all who do them over and over manage it. Your nails must be tough as…well, nails. Mine couldn’t handle it.

Back to regular nail polish for this girl, which is fine with me.

Now, what color should I wear next? 🙂

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen