Getting calgel is neither cheap nor practical if you don’t really go anywhere but the perfect opportunities presented themselves for me to indulge–Christmas and my trip to Mexico. Calgel is is a Japanese technique where your nails are polished with layers if gel (made of rubber) that is hardened using a UV lamp. They call it a nail strengthening system but I wouldn’t go that far. The great thing about calgel is that there is no filing or extreme buffing of your natural nails. They simply polish on top (in coats), let it dry, and you keep it moving. Once you take it off, your natural nails are perfectly in tact–unlike with acrylic–and a lot longer. I’m assuming that’s where they get the strengthening part from but the calgel is more like a temporary shell. There is no added nourishment.
I went to Sakura Nail Spa on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (there’s another one on the Upper West Side). My nail tech was Miya and she was really sweet (all of the staff there is very personable). When she found out that I was a calgel virgin, she explained what the process was and how to remove it. She was even patient with me when I accidentally messed up one of my nails because I dug in my purse to get my phone, to take some flicks lol.
Getting calgel is sensory overload because you can choose from a wide selection of various colors and styles. If they don’t have the color you want, they can create it by mixing other colors (Beyonce stopped by recently and had that done according to Miya). As far as styles, you can do a solid color all over the nail, french style or gradient which is what I got, and there’s an endless array of decals, bling and nail art that you can get.
Basic calgel starts at 40$ and add ons from there based on what you want cost more. What I got was $75 and exactly why I said this was a treat to myself. FYI, it’s a long process, ie, two hours minimum so keep that in mind if you’re a nail art junkie.
It’s supposed to last up to three weeks (possibly more) but that depends on how careless or rough you are with your hands and how fast your nails grow. I got two weeks out of them because I got the itch to change my polish and ended up pealing it off (bad habit).
The way you remove it traditionally is by soaking cotton balls in acetone and then securing one cotton ball to each finger by wrapping it in aluminum foil. Let it sit for about five minutes and then rub it off. Pealing the calgel off isn’t suggested and may not work for everyone (because it may adhere to people’s nails differently) but my nails are fine so don’t count that method out if you notice a little pealing in the corners after two weeks lol.
Was I satisfied? Yes.
Will I try calgel again? Yes, but only if there’s a special occasion or if I’m going on vacation or something like that.
Once again, check out Sakura Nail Spa for more details.