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The Great Nail Debate: UV Gel or Regular Polish?

Let’s explore the differences between Traditional Nail Polish, UV Gel Polish (and Artificial Nail Enhancements)

Navigating the world of nail services and products can be confusing. Aside from the selection of colors, there are many things to consider when choosing a nail polish for your manicure or pedicure. At the time of booking for every mani or pedi, we always ask “would you like regular or UV gel polish?”  So which one is right for you?   Let us help you choose, by explaining how traditional nail polish stacks up against the innovative wave of UV gel polish.

(Please note – Spa 901 does not offer artificial nail enhancements in the form of hard gel or acrylics.  We also do not have the correct tools or product to be able to remove this type of application and will refer elsewhere for this service.  Please read below for further description of this product and what makes it different)

Traditional Nail Polish (aka regular lacquer)

Professional Nail Polish

When receiving a manicure or pedicure with regular air-dry polish, your nail technician will lay down a base coat, two polish coats and a top coat. Be patient – typically drying time for regular polish can range from 45 – 75 minutes, therefore additional care and minimal use of hands or feet during this time is recommended.  For pedicures, socks and shoes are not recommended for a few hours after a fresh paint job. The best part about traditional polish?  It is hassel free,  and can be easily removed with a regular nail polish remover that you can purchase from most drug stores.

Pro tip: Don’t be fooled by the top layer feeling dry to the touch! The bottom layers of polish may need a little more time to set, and may not be bump or knock resistant until after the first hour.  (Every brand has a different formulation, and the polishes that are quicker to dry, tend to have the most chemicals!)

Regular polish applications may last in duration from 1 to 7 days depending on several factors specific to the client including: client lifestyle, client health and adhering to maintenance instructions.

So who is regular polish best suited for?  It is ideal for clients who schedule regular nail services and have the time to allow for their nails to properly dry after a service.   If you love trying new shades and keeping up with the latest or greatest trends and collections, this is a great option for you, as you can change out your color with ease.

For those that prefer a natural solution for their nails, a variety of polish brands out there offer formulations that are entirely free of the top toxic ingredients. A Spa 901 staff favourite is the Zoya Naked Manicure!  A highly effective system that carefully infuses the nail with a blend of vitamins, proteins and botanicals. Instantly improves the condition and appearance of cosmetic nail concerns. The result? A natural looking manicure, perfected!

UV Gel Polish

UV gel polish is the most weakened form of “traditional hard gel” and is considered to be the most flexible type of gel.  UV gel polish is applied onto the natural nail (just like a traditional polish), however it is cured under a special UV Light, which leaves it instantly dry, with a durable, glossy finish. The UV curing is a chemical process, which creates heat, forcing the gel to set.  Additional time will be required if you are booking in this type of polish and/or removal, as this process requires more time, effort and product.  Removal technique requires acetone wraps to break down the polish bond, which can be booked in separately and safely administered by your nail technician.

This type of polish may last a duration of 1-3 weeks, and as stated above, is dependent on several factors including: client lifestyle, client health and adhering to maintenance instructions.

Who is UV gel polish best suited for? It is ideal for that client who doesn’t have the time or patience for their nails to dry, and those who are hard on their hands or feet.  If you are seeking a polish that will last through the wear and tear, UV gel is the polish for you!  Though there are great perks to the long-lasting wear of this polish, it is not for everyone because it requires a healthy nail bed for optimal application results.   If you have oily or weak nail beds, peeling nails or skin conditions affecting the cuticles, this type of polish is not recommended.

Fun fact – UV gel polish is often referred to as “shellac”, which is incorrect terminology. Although shellac is a gel polish, it is actually the name of the line of UV gel polishes produced by the brand CND. At Spa 901 we use a professional UV gel brand called Artistic.

Finally…a further break down the word GEL:

Artificial Nail Enhancements

Advisory: SPA 901 nail services DO NOT include the removal, modification or application of artificial nail enhancements.

Please read carefully to understand the difference in product and polish offerings:

Artificial acrylic or hard gel nail enhancements are a permanent nail product and (acrylics and gels) are classified as nail enhancements aka “fake nails”. Both can be made to match the shape of the nail, or to extend it. If you are seeking longer nails, you will require either acrylic or gel extensions. People also get acrylics or gels applied to create stronger nails, however, in the long term they can actually weaken your natural nail.

Acrylics and hard gels are very different products with different ingredients, different application and removal techniques. It is advised that you research and seek a salon/spa that caters to these polish options or removals.

We recommend consulting with your nail technician at the time of booking to inquire about your polish options so you have assistance when making the final decision.

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