Gel manicure help - polish peeling.

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  1. I do my own gel manis at home, and they rarely last a full week before they lift & peel off. I can get 4-5 days max, if I am lucky. This week, I did my nails on Sunday. On Monday, 2 of my nails peeled off. By Tuesday, 3 more had peeled completely off. I can't for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong or how to fix it, and I'm so frustrated.

    - Am using very thin coats
    - Always cap the free edge
    - RCM 30 second salon pro light
    - RCM or Gelish foundation & top coats
    - Gelish, OPI or RCM brand gel polishes
    - Always use a bonder (usually over the entire nail surface - still doesn't help)
    - I cleanse my nails beforehand with the RCM Purify & the alcohol dehydrator

    When I get gels done in a salon, they last 2+ weeks every time. I watch their techniques closely, so I feel like I'm not doing something obviously wrong (thick coats etc). They also never cap the free edge. I'm also using the same products for the most part. Literally the ONLY difference is that they are using the OPI black metal light. Is it possible my light could make that much difference?

    I work in an office so it isn't like I'm stripping furniture or handwashing dishes, either. I really am not *that* hard on my manis.

    Any advice appreciated.
  2. Hmmmm, something is def going on here, this is a mystery! :smile:
    I doubt that the light that the salon is using is the key. Have you tried using different products? If you have an Ulta, or department store (drug store) or other beauty supply store near you, you may want to stop by and ask for some help. I would start by buying new supplies, new base coat, polish, and top coat.

    Good luck!
  3. Your light could be the difference. How long have you had your current one?
    I had a UV light and was having the same issues, manis just weren't lasting like they used to. I got the OPI light and saw a huge difference right away.
    One thing I have noticed is that my Gelish and RCM colors seem to do much better if I cure them for 45 seconds vs 30. Not sure why.
    Good luck! It's so frustrating to take the time to do the mani and then have it ruined so quickly.
  4. In my experience, yes, it is ... especially if you've had it awhile.
  5. I agree that the light could be the problem. I had a lot of problems before I upgraded my lamp. You could try longer cure times, as someone posted. Especially for really saturated colors.

    Also, I have found that OPI Gelcolors doesn't seem to cure well with DIY LED lamps. Several others have mentioned this in other threads and on other sites. If you want to use OPI I would definitely recommend a professional lamp such as one of the OPI lamps or the Gelish 18g. Or you could use a good quality CFL-UV lamp. But with CFL-UV, cure times are longer and you have to change the bulbs regularly.
  6. I've only had this light since Christmas 2015. So barely 5 months. It was purchased brand new from Ulta. It is the RCM 30 second salon pro LED light (the one that fits your whole hand in). It is a 30-second LED cure, and on the color coats, I always cure twice for 60 seconds total. The only possible reason I can come up with is that my light just isn't curing properly.

    I'm considering either the new OPI salon light or the 18g Gelish light... but am also so frustrated I'm considering just going to salon acrylics again. I redid my nails Wednesday evening - and here it is Friday early afternoon, 1 has already lifted & peeled completely off. Ugh.

    The last time I redid my nails, I also noticed when I did the final cleanse step to remove the sticky layer, my topcoat was not shiny at all on 1 finger and looked matte. I had to re-apply it & re-cure, and then it was okay.

    Out of the 2 bigger/better lights - the new white OPI salon light, or the Gelish 18G - which would you ladies recommend? Is there really much difference? I know I want an LED, not a UV light.I'm primarily using Gelish & OPI polishes, also a few Sally Hansen and RCM.
  7. Hmm, 5 months should not be the lifetime of an led lamp. Maybe yours was defective in some way that did not become obvious at first? I wonder if Ulta would exchange it for you?
  8. It shouldn't be the lifespan, but it wouldn't be the first time. I had the original, not the Pro, but somewhere in the 5-7 month time frame was the life span of mine before everything started lifting.

    But of course, it could be a lot of other things .. including your body chemistry. But if your salon manis are staying then you've eliminated that pretty much. Do they lift from one end or the other first, or do they sort of pop off whole like beetle shells? Before you shell out for a new lamp, if they're lifting from the tips, you might try not capping or if you're capping on all coats, just do it on one color coat. Also water makes a huge difference for some people ..... no hands in water at least an hour before, and I recommend not showering til the next day if you can possibly help it.

    But it sounds like they are coming off whole, and if they do that, and with what you said about your top coat it sounds like it's not curing properly.
  9. Which bonder are you using? Perhaps it's not dry enough before you putting on your base coat. Just my two cents.
  10. Yes, the light really makes that big a difference. It really does sound like it is your light, especially the part about the top coat, and the fact that it is happening with all of the brands. I have both the original OPI light (the black Darth Vader one) and the Gelish 18g and I find that because I use OPI the most, I use the OPI lamp the most. It is a fantastic lamp and if you could still find one, get it. But I still think it's best to go with the light for the brand you use the most.
  11. Thanks so much to everyone for the replies & suggestions.

    Nancy - I only have 2 OPI gel colors. Mostly I'm using Gelish. I would love to have the "Darth Vader" OPI black lamp (that's what they use at my salon, even with Gelish polishes), but they're tough to find and very expensive - especially for a non-professional.

    I think I will most likely purchase the Gelish 18G and give that a shot.
  12. I use the Fingerpaints bonder. Maybe I should let it dry longer before I start in with the base coat.

    They lift from the free edge OR the cuticle, and it varies. Sometimes they come off in a single sheet (the whole nail), but sometimes it's just half the nail, or even a large strip, that comes off. There doesn't seem to be any real consistency as to how they peel off, other than that they do.
  13. I have the Darth Vader one, I got a screaming deal on it a couple years ago. One thing I have noticed is that if I let the lamp "warm up", I get better wear. Meaning I plug it in about 20 minutes before I start to use it, and I put it through a couple of cycles first. Since I started doing that, I've been getting at least 10 days out of my manis.
  14. I know I'm a little late to this party but I agree that it is your lamp causing the issue, especially if your topcoat is still a little tacky after cleansing. Keep us posted on what lamp you get. I have one of the original CND UV salon lamps and I know it definitely needs new bulbs as mine were peeling and soft. I had to stop gel nails because it caused me to have a reaction, sadly. Which then, in turn, led to my full on addiction to regular nail polish, particularly indies! Oh, this forum has wreaked havoc on my wallet. Haha
  15. #15 May 20, 2016
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
    Thanks again for all the input!

    Kailuagal - I have only had the topcoat issue one time, on one finger. It was quite odd.

    I did another gel mani last night, and I changed up my routine a bit. I lightly scuffed my nails with a file first (usually skip this step). I also waited about 2 minutes after I applied my bonder, just to be sure it was fully dry, and I applied an extra bit of bonder on the tips.

    Lastly, I looked inside my light and I realized that there aren't any actual LEDs on the inside top of the light, only on the sides, which I think may be causing a curing issue. I think the design is relying mostly on reflected light, and that may be why my thumbs almost never peel - because when I put my hand in, my thumbs sit somewhat sideways, so they're basically directly in front of the side LEDs. I think when I was lying my hand flat inside the light, it's possible my nails just weren't getting enough light to cure properly. I tried positioning my hand differently this time, so my nails were aimed directly at the LEDs, so we'll see if that makes any difference.

    I also think that OPI just doesn't cure well in the DIY type lamps, as artiemd said. I have 2 OPI colors, and one is a darker, more saturated brown. I've had more issues with that color peeling, and I think it's just not getting a good cure in my light. The other color I have is a very sheer, glittery pink, and I've had pretty good luck with it, but the darker color just doesn't wear as long.

    I have put the Gelish 18G light on my wish list.