Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Great Experiment

My very most favorite salon, Amplify, is offering a new sort of manicure that is called shellac.   I run hot and cold on making my nails all fancy, mainly because a really nice manicure gets ruined so quickly.  For those who don't realize this, something unkind happens to fingernails as one gets more fully mature, and the ridges alone make keeping a really pretty manicure difficult.

Even when my nails are at their healthiest and strongest, holidays in retail are murder on them.  We offer free gift-wrapping at the store, and as the requests for that heat up, the nails just get ruined.  It's just not ever been worth it to try to keep my nails looking pretty from mid-November until after the first of the year.

Anyway,  the owner Jami and I talked about it, and she had Stephanie (one of the nail artists) call me.  She put some of my biggest concerns to rest, and I decided to take the plunge.

I decided to document the first application and its wearability, because some of my friends around the country have been interested, but nobody particularly wanted to be The First.

Hey.  I figure if it stands up to the torture it's going to go through, then for everybody else it's going to be life-changing in a "this really isn't important, but it's cheaper than a facelift for a little vanity boost."

So.  Here we go.

I arrived at the salon this afternoon to find out their power was out, and I came home disappointed.   (The shellac machine needs electricity to run!)  I had scarcely settled in with my cup of coffee when they called to say, "Come back!  We have power!"   Run back I did, and I took these with me.

My nails were in horrible shape, with peeling and ridges beginning to cause little snags and tears, and I was having to perform triage on them daily.

The special stuff that has to be used for this process has at least one potential drawback:  a sort of limited supply of color.   That's not a huge problem for me, mostly -- I'm pretty traditional, generally opting for neutrals, or clear.   Stephanie tells me that she can mix colors by layering, too.  Again, this was, for me, not a sticking point.   She took extraordinary care with a basic manicure:  shaping, whipping my cuticles into shape, but nothing out of the ordinary had to be done to my  nails before the application began.

This is a HUGE plus in my book.  I don't want my nails damaged, and I don't want them looking fake.  I just want my nails to be presentable, and pretty.

Stephanie began the process, which involved a base coat followed by "curing" in the special shellac machine.  This took practically zero time.  This curing process happened again after each application of color as well.

There's no heat involved, no windy breezes -- just incredibly brief exposure to UV light.  When I say brief I mean probably less than 10 minutes per hand.

When it was all finished I got up to get my purse and started to hand it to Stephanie so I could ask her to dig into my wallet for my debit card and keys, and she said, "Nope -- you are totally dry and set, and you can do that."

Oh. My.  She was not kidding.  The color is incredible, and shiny wet looking, but I dug my wallet out, grabbed my keys, ran my fingers through my hair -- all with absolutely no effect on my nails!

So, which color did I pick?

This looks a little orange, but I assure you -- it is FIRE ENGINE RED, and it is just glorious!

I thought of clear; I thought of the neutral shade that looks like what I usually default to; I thought about the dusky pink-ish color.   Truly I did, but I picked the red for two reasons:

First, this test will be easier to follow if there is COLOR on my nails.

Second, why the heck NOT?

I'll keep you posted how this all actually DOES, but in the meantime, a huge thank you to Jami Lewis, owner of Amplify Salon and Spa; and to Stephanie Gregory, Fingertip Wizard!

Have questions? Post them in the comments section, and I'll answer what I can 
(no technical stuff, of course, but just real-world girlfriend type stuff.)


  1. Third - Because Julie told me too.


  2. They look great, I have read about this and am interested, is it terribly expensive?

  3. Jane, This initial visit was $35.00. I got a top notch, meticulous manicure unlike anything I'd ever had before, and then the application. This is supposed to last two weeks, but if you get a more neutral color you can probably stretch that a bit -- the salon owner had on clear and hers had lasted a month. Of course, nails growing out with a bright color means I'll not wait that long.

    I'm not sure I'll keep doing this forever and ever -- $35 seems very reasonable to me, but it's still $35 -- but it's a great option (if it truly holds up!) for all sorts of situations.

    I'd have LOVED to have been able to get a manicure a couple weeks before my son got married so I would have to fool with it again... Getting one before a trip and not having to worry about whether to haul your nail stuff with you... for a gazillion reasons this seems to be just a great new tool to use. What amazes me is that this really looks like a straightforward manicure with no built up look on the nails -- none of those thick nail things going on.

    I can tell you ONE thing, though -- I will never go to a walk-in nail salon again. Stephanie did such a beautiful job on my nails that if I had walked out BEFORE the application even started I would have been amazed.

  4. That is a really good value. I just might treat myself to a Birthday Manicure! Where is Amplify?

  5. Jane, They are on Graham Street, a little "alley" kind of street that runs off Cloverdale Road right by Derk's Filet & Vine. They are part of that A&P lofts block development. Give them a call -- and if you do,tell them I sent you!

  6. Eleanor, I must say I am disappointed, I called the Spa on Friday before closing time, no one answered, so I left a message telling them I wanted to try your experiment and would like to book an appt, I left name and number and still have not heard from them. Guess I will call and try one more time today.


  7. Jane, I contacted the salon on your behalf... sounds like everything got worked out just fine! My nails took a pounding today and I'm just amazed how they stood up to all the wrapping I did for customers today.