So Addicted: Gel Nails (Not for Worried Upper West Side Jewish Ladies)
Right next to White Dream, the storefront on Manhattan Ave that gives me the giggles every time, is another awning that simply says Nails. I walked in and knew this was the place where I would do it: the infamous and controversial gel manicure.
A manicure that lasts for two weeks and doesn’t chip? Sound too good to be true? Lots of ladies rave about it. Others are concerned it’s bad for your nails and your health. When I asked my platonic wife Julie to take the plunge with me, here is what she said:
Jules: I totally want, but we (the Jewish mother convention on the Upper West Side) had a long table discussion about it’s many pitfalls and now I’m scared.
Jules: They strip your nails and take forever to recover! As in never the same again. The UV light causes cancer! One woman went to the hospital with 2nd degree burns…All together “not worth it” was the consensus.
Jen: That sounds like an overreaction!
Jules: We’re Jewish!
Fair enough. Every girl needs a Jewish mom to worry about their health and nail safety. But they look so glossy and perfect!
What is a gel manicure anyway? We are not talking about tips here. According to wiseGEEK: “During a gel manicure, the gel is applied to the nail and cured under an ultraviolet light. The gel is durable and adheres easily to fingernails.”
Here is how it works: base coat, color then top coats are applied, but after each application, your nails bake for a few minutes under UV light. At the end, alcohol is applied. You leave with your nails totally dry! When you return for your next manicure, you sit with your nails wrapped in acrylic soaked cotton balls under tin foil. It takes about 10-20 minutes (just enough time to get a pedicure), then the gel literally sloughs off and the rest is buffed away.
Dr. Susan Taylor, who writes for Huffington Post has some concerns about the gel manicure, too, which include exposure to toxic chemicals, one that may cause dermatitis, another that may cause cancer (but it’s not in ALL polishes so check ingredients) and exposure to UV light, which causes skin cancer. Some places use LED lights, instead. Another preventative method is to apply sunblock during your manicure and/or wear gloves with the fingers cut out. Last, the acetone which is used to remove the gel, can overly dry your skin – so moisturize!
In another in-depth article, Lemondrop.com recommends the shellac, another manicure option that lasts, as an alternative to gel manicures and cites research that points to the potential risks of gel manicures.
I live on Kingsland Avenue over the Meeker Ave plume, where years of irresponsible dumping of toxins, like highly carcinogenic dry cleaning chemicals has led to vapor intrusion, which means these harmful chemicals are coming up out of the ground and into my home and body. Before I get up in arms about a few gel manicures, I should move. Otherwise I will sound like my friends who only eat organic food but smoke cigarettes. Let’s get our priorities straight and our nails did!
Gel manicures are also more expensive than regular manicures, $25-60, but in Greenpoint they are on the less expensive side, whereas in Manhattan they are easily $40. Since they last much longer, many argue it’s worth it.
Now we know costs and the ways to avoid exposure to contaminants, let’s talk about the upside.
I admit, after my first gel manicure, I am totally addicted. For many women, a manicure last a few days; for me, by the time I get home, I have smudges and chips. If you’re a total spazzola, the gel manicure is amazing because you walk out of the salon with your nails totally 100% shove your hand in your pocket for your keys and ride your bike home, dry! And they last, more than two weeks. My nails grew so much I had to clip and file them before my next manicure.
About Green Point Nail Inc: the place was busy but efficiently moving customers along. It was clean and they had tons of colors to chose from, even for gel which is another complaint. Helen my nail tech, an immigrant from China, who lives over on Guernsey was a doll, and very talented and precise.
I had to pick a color that after two weeks I wouldn’t be sick of. Turquoise french manicure, please!
I chatted with a local Polish woman who is a bartender in Maspeth. (On a side note, she had the most crystal blue gorgeous eyes I have ever seen!) She said that because she is plunging her hands in water constantly, the gel manicure is perfect for her.
I can do anything with my gel manicure, even shuck corn!
After this Nail Tour is over, unless I fall totally head over heels in love with another salon, this will be my new go-to spot. I am still pondering whether I will continuing getting my gel on. At Greenpoint Nail Inc, it’s $25 (cheap!) for gel and $15 pedicure.
For a regular mani-pedi it’s $25.
I know that getting the gel manicure seems like I’m throwing a monkey wrench into the Nails Did Greenpointers Nail Tour, but I see it as a nail evolution. Here are the scores:
Green Point Nail Inc
782 Manhattan Ave
Quality of mani/ped: 4/5
Local Banter: 4/5
Variety of colors: 5/5
Bonus Massage: 2 bonus points – 0/2
No razor was offered.