Monday, April 29, 2013

Cheapskate April: DIY Gel Manicure

I can’t believe Cheapskate April is already almost over.  I had really good intentions of posting three times a week this month about money-related topics, but with various spring projects going on around the house and impending life changes for us, my world outside of the blog has been chaotic.  That’s been the story of 2013 so far.  Good intentions, but weak follow-through.

I do have a couple more things I want to share with you before this month ends, though.  Cheapskate April, at its core, was about saving money by identifying your needs and your wants, and figuring out how to find a harmonious balance between them.  After a couple of years of going back and forth over a budget, growing a family, and buying a house, Tots and I have identified our necessities, our not-necessities-but-life-would-suck-withouts, and our wants.  Through some arguing and calculating (but mostly arguing), we’ve struck a balance that works for us right now; give us about 6 months and I’m sure we will have added and removed some things from our list.  That’s the beautiful thing about budgeting; it’s as flexible or rigid as you make it.

One of the things fell prey to our budget almost immediately was my beauty regimen.  Seriously, with how quickly it got shredded, I almost wonder how long Tots had been plotting his attack the budget.  Now, let me stop and tell you something: I'm not really a girly-girl.  I know everyone says that, but seriously.  I barely know my way around the makeup counter.  I don’t get my hair cut every six weeks or whatever is recommended, I’ve never been to a spa and I’ve never had a facial.  I rarely paint my nails because I’m usually such a clutz and so haphazard that my nails take a beating anyway… until I was introduced to the shellac manicure.

If you’ve had your nails shellacked (shellacked? I have no idea if that’s the correct form for that word) before, you know those puppies are durable.  I did dishes, sanded furniture, and lived my typical clutzy life for a week and a half before I saw the first sign of wear.  Needless to say, I was hooked.  Unfortunately, the budget fairy didn’t approve of that price tag.  Neither did Tots.  Cue Pinterest, for a cheap DIY option!

***Okay, so to really drive home the fact that I'm not a girly-girl, I will admit that I have no idea what the difference is between a gel manicure and shellac.  In this post, I'm sort of using the terms interchangeably, in error I'm sure.  All I know is that I like my nails to be strong and shiny, and I like not having to repaint them every other day.*** 

Jenna, from Ramblings From Yours Truly, wrote a blog about her process.  I experimented with it a little, and tweaked it to work better for me because I'm impatient.  This is now my go-to whenever I feel like putting a little bit of effort forth, but don't want to go nuts.  It does take a little time, but for me, it’s worth it to save the thirty-something bucks.  Seriously, just turn on a movie, pour yourself a drink, and quit bitching.  The time will fly.

What you need:

Gelous Advance Nail Gel Coat (there isn’t a substitute for this that I’m aware of)
Nail color of your choice (it doesn’t matter what brand; I’ve used everything from Revlon to Sally Hansen to my cheap Wet N Wild polish)
Quick Drying Top Coat (I recommend Sally Hansen Insta-Dri.  Not only does it set your polish in about a minute, it also gives it a beautiful shiny finish)

1. Shape your nails with a nail file, and remove any remaining nail polish (if you’re like me, you probably don’t have any left from the last time you painted them).  Even if your nails are bare, give them the once over with nail polish remover.  This will remove any dirt, nail dust, or oil. 

2.  ONE FINGER AT A TIME, apply a decent coat of Gelous (don’t glob it on, but don’t be too stingy either) and then immediately apply your nail polish.  You want to get your color on there while your Gelous is still wet.

3. Let your nails set for about 10 minutes.  You just put a ton of crap on there and it needs to dry before you do anything else. 
4.       Apply another coat of your nail polish.

5.       Let set for another 10 minutes.  Watch something on Netflix so you don’t smudge your nails fast-forwarding through commercials on your DVR.

6.       If you’re satisfied with the color, apply one last coat of Gelous.  If you’re not satisfied with the color, cuss a little because you’ve already spent 20 &%$#*ing minutes on your nails, and now you have to apply another %&$#@ing coat of nail polish.

7.       Let the Gelous set for about five minutes.  Apply a coat of Insta-Dri, and have your roommate/husband/pizza delivery guy open a beer for you.  

8.       By the time you finish your beer, your nails should be pretty dry.  Unless you drink like a frat boy in his fifth year of college… then you might have to have two.  You should still be careful with them for a while, but the Insta-Dri does a really good job of hardening all of the polish.  I usually do my nails at night about an hour before bed and by the time I wake up, they’re totally hardened.

There you have it, a cheap alternative for your weekly manicure.  What are some ways you save money on beauty “necessities?”

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