Normally the night before a trip, I’m up late painting my nails. It’s part of my pre-trip ritual that usually involves little to no sleep as I rush around the house, trying not to forget anything. Though on my last trip to NYC I was more than happy to skip that part of my routine. I know it sounds crazy, the nail girl traveling bare nailed, but it was all for a very good reason.
You see one of my favorite people, the lovely Heather from MAC had been raving for months about her CalGel nails, tempting me with pics of amazing gradated manicures from this salon on the Upper East Side, Sakura. Since last fall she’s been sporting gray gradations, black with hot pink (for the Hello Kitty launch) and black with gold glitter. So even though I’m not much for the whole nail art thing, I had to get my butt on over there the night before fashion week started to try it for myself. Heather joined Jamie and I for our first CalGel experience and it was so very fun.
What you see below is after two weeks of wear. You can see the growth of my nails but because I used a clear base (at Yayoi’s suggestion) my nails still looked presentable. There was no lifting, peeling or chipping. Just the same perfect gradation.
Tip: Use non-acetone remover to take off the clear top coat, then paint over the CalGel with regular polish if you want a color change. Remove the polish with non-acetone remover and the CalGel will remain, perfectly intact.
Now the removal process left something to be desired but it wasn’t horrifying. You can go back to the salon and pay for removal or do it yourself. Jamie said hers peeled off in the shower but mine took a little work.
To remove: Buff the CalGel with a 180 grit file/buffer. I suggest buffing as much as you can without hitting the nail. Soak a cotton pad with acetone, place it on the nail and wrap with aluminum foil for 10-15 minutes. After soaking, push the CalGel off with an orange stick.
While CalGel claims that it strengthens nails, I did not see that result though I also wasn’t left with paper thin nails like after my horrifying trip down acrylic lane. I imagine the strengthening claim applies to people who continually use CalGel and return for fills.
The cost for what I had done was $65. A basic CalGel manicure starts at $40, gradations are an additional $20, the special powder used in my manicure costs $5 extra, additional nail art prices vary. Call Sakura at 212-722-1334 for more info or to make an appointment. The salon is located on 2nd Ave between 88th & 89th.
You can learn more about CalGel on their website CalGelUSA.com and if you email them directly, they can help you locate a salon in your area.