Gel pedicures are considered an upgrade from your standard pedicure. While regular pedicures use normal nail polish, gel pedicures use longer-lasting gel polish and cost a little more than typical pedicures. You may have heard that gel polish is worth the extra cost because they last so long, but how long do they last?
Manicurists say gel pedicures typically last at least three weeks, though they can last as long as four to six weeks, depending on your lifestyle and the type of shoes you wear. This is much longer than a standard pedicure; regular polish may start to chip in as little as one to two weeks, depending on how you treat your feet.
You can choose to get a gel pedicure monthly (or once your polish starts chipping) to keep your toes looking fresh and neat, or you can choose to take a week or two break between pedicures to let your nails breathe a bit without polish.
Many people choose to get gel pedicures because they believe the benefits are worth the extra cost. If you still aren't sure if gel pedicures are right for you, keep reading for more information to help you decide.
Difference Between Standard and Gel Pedicures
The primary difference between a standard and a gel pedicure is the kind of polish you use at the end. Both types of pedicures typically include soaking your feet in a warm bath, either with some sort of soap, scented salts, or other mixture. The manicurist will then shape your toenails and clean up your cuticles. Some pedicures also include scrubbing your feet with a cuticle softener and a pumice stone, and then a leg massage.
The final step of the manicure is polishing your toenails. Standard pedicures will use two coats of regular polish in the color of your choice, with a base coat and top coat. This kind of polish air dries (or with a fan) and can take up to half an hour to set completely. Salon goers often bring flip flops or other slip-on footwear that will not touch your toes to prevent smearing of the polish before it is fully dry.
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Gel polish is different than regular polish. You also get two coats of the gel color of your choice, but your polish is finished with a special top coat. Each coating is dried by a special lamp--usually UV or LED--for about thirty to sixty seconds. After the last stint under the lamp, the manicurist removes any film from your toenails with an alcohol swab, and your toes are dry and ready to go. The entire polishing process takes about five to ten minutes.
When is it better to get a gel pedicure instead of a regular one?
Some will argue it's always better to get a gel pedicure because the polish and shine last longer. But others may not want to spend the extra money every time they go to the salon. In that case, gel pedicures are most useful when going on vacation or traveling, and you do not want to worry about chipped toenails. Sand and saltwater also affect regular polish more than gel polish; regular polish will get dull and chip much faster under tropical conditions than gel polish.
How long after a pedicure can you wear shoes and socks?
Manicurists typically recommend doing a gentle swipe test on your polish before putting on socks and shoes; this means lightly rubbing a finger across your toenail to see if the polish is completely dry. With a regular pedicure, the drying process takes several hours. Some manicurists say you can put on socks and shoes in about three hours in dry conditions, while others recommend waiting at least eight hours after applying polish. With a gel pedicure, you can put on your socks almost immediately after your last drying session under the lamp. However, some manicurists still suggest waiting between fifteen minutes to an hour to avoid any chance of smearing the paint.
How much does a gel pedicure cost?
The cost of a gel pedicure varies, depending on where you live and the kind of salon you visit. Luxury salons or high-end spas tend to charge substantially more than your basic nail salon. Still, they usually have added features to their services, such as some wine or champagne, comfy robes, and a soothing ambiance. In general, a regular pedicure can cost between $30-$80. But a gel pedicure will cost significantly more, ranging from about $40-$100 or more.
Are pedicures good for your feet?
There are many benefits to getting pedicures. They can smooth out callouses on your heel and the soles of your feet, making them look better when you wear sandals. Leg massages during a pedicure can increase circulation in your legs and feet and even throughout your body. And a manicurist can identify ingrown toenails and let you know if a medical practitioner should remove them.
Should my nails and toes match?
Whether to polish your fingernails and your toenails the same color is a matter of preference. Some stylists say using the same color on your hands and feet helps you look more pulled together. They recommend using a similar color palette on both with a darker shade on your toes to mix it up a bit. Other beauty experts say matching both sets of nails is tacky; instead of matching colors, they say you should use colors that complement each other.
But with so many colors available on the market now, you can also choose to be as bold or subdued as you like. Popular combinations include French tips on your hands and a classic red on your toes; nude polish for your fingernails and a fun, bright blue on your feet; or neon green to pop your hands and white on your toes.
Another variation is to use the same base color for both your hands and feet to tie them together but add a design or texture on some or all of your fingernails to make them stand out from your toenails.
How do I remove gel nail polish from my toes?
Your manicurist will usually soak cotton balls in acetone, then adhere them to your nails with some aluminum foil to soak off the gel polish. If you have acetone, you can also do the same procedure at home. Make sure to use pure acetone and not items called "nail polish remover," which is a blend of chemicals.
Soak your nails for about ten to fifteen minutes, and the polish should come off fairly easily. If it doesn't, soak a little longer or use a flat-edged wooden stick or cuticle pusher to help remove the polish. You should avoid peeling off the gel polish because that may damage your nail bed.
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Is gel nail polish bad for my toenails?
Gel polish is safe for your toenails. Getting gel pedicures regularly should not affect your toenails' health as long as they are cared for properly. Avoid peeling off the polish because that will remove some layers of your nail and may damage it. If you are still worried about your nails' health, medical professionals recommend taking two or three weeks off from any polish to rehydrate your nails and help them grow back healthily.
Gel pedicures last much longer than standard pedicures; your gel polish usually lasts about three weeks but can sometimes still look good up to six weeks later. If you like to have fresh-looking toes all the time, you should get a gel pedicure at least once a month or whenever your toe polish starts to chip.
If you want to learn more about pedicures and polish, check out these other articles with some great details:
What Color Nails Goes With Everything