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How shellac treatments at a cheap Perth nail bar ruined my nails

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I first started getting gel manicures about seven months ago. For me, it was the perfect lazy girl solution to painting my nails.

When I first learnt about the treatment, I imagine my reaction was pretty typical.

"What? There's a nail polish that you only have to put on once and it stays on for up to a month without chipping...? Sign me up!"

And given the amount of nail bars popping up in Perth shopping centres, it's popular.

The process, often referred to as 'shellac' by nail bars, is, however, actually the name of a particular brand of gel manicure - and it's worth noting it isn't always the product used when applying the treatment.


For the first few months, I was right on board. The treatment was affordable, looked great and meant I didn't have to bother with constantly re-applying nail polish. 

But after a few months, things started to go wrong.

And because I wasn't warned, this is my warning to you.

Every time you have a fresh coat and colour, the nail technician soaks your hand in acetone before scraping and buffing down the gel nail, which had previously been baked on under a UV light.

What I didn't realise at the time was that my local nail bar wasn't taking the appropriate time to remove the gel carefully. Therefore, over time, after several applications, my nails became seriously damaged. 

After only seven months, I had gone from strong healthy nails to barely any to speak of.

My previous lady-like nails had become so thin and brittle they began to hurt if any pressure was applied to them.

They then started to bend and break off at the tips, including a couple of doozies where my nail ripped off under the skin. Lord have mercy. 

Early this month, I had my last gel nail removed by a professional beautician as I was too spooked to go back to the nail bar out of fear they would buff and scrape off the whisper of nail I had left. 

As the beautician tried to preserve my nails as much as possible while removing the gel, she remarked that the gel product itself was sub-standard, which was why it was so difficult to remove.

At the nail bar I had gone to, instead of trying carefully remove the gel, they would just buff it off - along with the layer of my nail it was attached to.

It's only been a couple of weeks but my nails are still paper-thin, they still hurt and they still bend right back.

Gel manicures and I are now on a break.

An indefinite one.