A Manicure That's Tough as Nails

Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.

I pay much more attention to my nails than many other aspects of my personal grooming. I rarely remember to shave my legs, I sometimes forget to floss, I'll forgo a shower for an extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning, but my nails are never bare. My standards for nail care have been an exhaustive, expensive and almost futile endeavor as weekly manicures take a good chunk of time out of my life and money out of my wallet for polish that sometimes chips the next day. Painting my nails at home works in a pinch, but with a baby that constantly needs attention, it's nearly impossible to wait for them to dry before they get all fucked up. And forget trying to do them at night in the hour or two of free time I have because that only leads to sheet imprints.

I'd heard about gel manicures, but had been deterred by the price (about $50, depending on the salon and the design you want). When I learned that they lasted for up to a month I decided to give it a try. I figured if I was paying like $15 for a manicure once a week, that's $60 a month anyway. And consolidating a month's worth of manicures into one appointment was an appealing time-management solution. I ended up loving it.

The gel is applied over your natural nails and bonded under a UV light. Unlike acrylics, the gel doesn't damage or weaken your nails, but instead strengthens them, enabling them to grow longer. Thicker, but still flexible, the gel is seriously like magic. You can open soda cans, change batteries in remote controls, do the dishes—all without so much as chipping the paint. In order to remove the manicure, all you need to do is put acetone nail polish remover on a cotton ball, place it on your finger, holding it on with tin foil for about 10 - 20 minutes.

While you can get gel manicures in a wide range of colors, gel manicures are particularly great if you're into nail art, because you can indulge in a fancier design without having to worry that it'll look like shit in a day or two. Lately, I've been going all out with 3D art, because why the fuck not? The gel coats over all the bobbles, studs and plastic bows that can be applied, so it never catches on your tights, clothes, or hair. I've been going to this girl named Naomi at Hello Beautiful Salon in Brooklyn. She's ridiculously talented, and a super fast worker. For the manicure pictured above, I told her to make my nails look like M.I.A. would wear them as pants and she totally got my vision.

I don't see how anyone could ever go back to the old fashioned way of painting nails after experiencing a gel manicure. It'd be like going back to using a hole in the ground instead of a toilet. It's one of the greatest modern conveniences ever invented. Shut up, I'm serious!

Prices vary for gel manicures. Check with your local salon.

Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.