Thursday, June 16, 2011

Soak Off Gel Laquer Review

OPI Axxium Soak Off Gel Polish in My Private Jet

I am absolutely loving UV cured gel systems. I think they are quite possibly the greatest thing since sliced bread!  I have been using two different systems that both work with my UV lamp, OPI Axxium Soak Off Gel Lacquer and IBD Gelac.

Nail polish has never lasted very long on my nails. My nails have been sensitive and peeling lately which does not make for a good platform from nail polish. It would often chip in the first 24 hours, if I didn't mess them up while they were wet! I was really skeptical when I first heard of CND Shellac, but did some research and they seemed great. When I finally made the decision to purchase a system for myself I decided to go with the OPI Axxium for a few reasons.

OPI Axxium has a lot of colors to choose from and they are replicas of our favorite OPI nail lacquers. I chose Axxium over Shellac because Shellac has so few colors to choose from. I am not a large fan of nude, pink and red colors. They are lacking fun purple, blues, and brights that Axxium has. There are downsides to Axxium as well. The colors are slightly more translucent than their lacquers and don't always match the lacquer exactly. The My Private Jet is slightly lighter, but still beautiful. I have to apply 3 coats of color to get an opaque finish. The Axxium system has one major difference from Shellac and that is that it comes in a pot and must be applied with a separate brush. Shellac comes in a bottle like a traditional lacquer.

I wanted to try a system that was in a traditional nail lacquer bottle, so I chose the IBD Gelac system. Their packaging has led some people to believe that this is a generic of Shellac, but it's not. Most of the Gel Lacquer systems came out around the same time and Shellac quickly became the front runner, mostly due to advertising, in my opinion. The Gelac System had quite a few colors that caught my eye, especially the Tanzinite and Freesia. I had heard all kinds rumors about all the systems, but I had to find out for myself.

I love both of the systems that I have, and hope that CND comes out with some more appealing colors so that I can try the system! :)

What are soak off gel lacquers? Soak Off Lacquers are a fusion between a traditional gel nail coating and a colored lacquer. "Gel nails" are much like acyrilics. They can be used with tips and must be filed off. And colored lacquer is well, traditional nail polish!

What is the difference between brands, like CND Shellac and Axxium Soak Off? There really isn't a whole lot of difference, mostly just the application. Axxium Soak Offs have more of  traditional gel application. The product is also in a pot, instead of a nail polish jar like Shellac and other brands. It does make the system a little harder to use at home, but if you are good at applying nail polish in general you should be just fine!

Do they really last 2 weeks? Longer in some cases! Of course it is all going to depend on the individual, how well the nail was prepped and the product was applied, the health of the nail and how rough you are on your nails on a daily basis. I've heard of some people's not lasting long, or one nail peeling off within a week, but I've also heard that they last longer than 3 weeks.

Can I do them at home? Of course, but this is not something a novice should do. There are two reasons for that, the up front cost and the outcome. Gel polishes are not cheap, running between $15 and $25 a pop. You will need the top coat and base coat and of course a few colors. You will also need a 36 Watt UV Lamp. There is NO way around that one. The cheapest I've seen them is around $60. You will also need all of the prep supplies, including a cuticle stick, cuticle remover, cuticle nippers, 99% Isopropyl alcohol and nail dehydrator, to name a few. It can be very time consuming, and cannot be rushed. The outcome of the gel lacquer has so much to do with the prep of nail and application. If the nail is not prepped properly or the polish is not applied correctly, it will not last. I know this from experience. :)

Will they ruin my nails? While gel lacquers don't require you file down the nail as you would with acrylics or traditional gels, they are less damaging in that aspect. The removal requires that gel nails to be soaked in acetone for 10 minutes. Acetone can be extremely drying and I've heard lots of complaints about that. Some people just can help themselves from picking their nails... I'm guilty of it. The first time I wore Axxium Soak Offs I peeled them all off in less than 10 minutes. Once you catch a free edge they peel off in one big sheet. Peeling them off also peeled off the top layer of my nail. They did not look good or feel good. I would stick with soaking them off. I also feel like my nails are dried out after I remove the lacquer. I'm not sure if this is due to the actual lacquer or the removal process. In short, I don't think they do as much damage as other nail enhancements, but they aren't as harmless as nail polish.

Will the UV lamp be harmful to my health? I'm not entirely sure, but it's worth being concerned about. I'm not sure if the lamp is powerful enough to effect the skin, because I've never notice a burn or tan, but I can feel the warmth it omits. It's always best to do your research and see if it's worth the risk to you. I ALWAYS advise using a sunscreen before you place your hand in the lamp for curing.

I absolutely love my gel lacquer nails, I would advice you to give them a try.

Have you tried them either at the salon or at home? What do you think?


  1. I used to pay between $40-$45 (including tip) for a gel polish manicure, but I bought (two weeks ago) the basics for doing my own nails at home. I absolutely love Gelish, and my manicure has lasted me almost 2 weeks (replacing due to grow, ZERO chips).

    Also, I found from my salon visits, that you can mix and match Gelish/Shellac/Axxium/OPI GelColor with no problems. My favorite manicure from the salon was Gelish's Waterfields over OPI GelColor's Samoan Sands (very neutral, but still fun manicure).

    Video was AWESOME (found you from Pinterest). Thanks so much for sharing it, really good info for anyone looking to try it at home!

    1. Hi Jennifer! I'm so glad you're having such great luck with gel nails at home. :) They're amazing and so easy to do! I'm thinking about getting my hands on some of the new OPI and Gelish! :)