Red Carpet Manicure: Gel Polish


Gel nail polish, by Red Carpet Manicure (RCM), is one of my favorite things right now. RCM provides a protective coat which helps natural nails grow longer without filing down or damaging the nail, unlike acrylics. Most importantly, the polish stays put (without chipping) and yields a gorgeous manicure for 2-3 weeks!

Although I am a professional Aesthetician, I’m by no means a professional manicurist. Because of this, I know you too will be able to tackle the RCM with ease. The directions are easy to follow and the manicure itself takes under 30 minutes to achieve– that includes dry time… well, there is virtually no dry time and the polish finishes nice and hard, as opposed to traditional nail lacquers; we’ve all meticulously painted our nails only to find the lacquer smudged, dented, or chipped as a result of mundane actions. Once the gel polish is cured, it really is set.

Here are a few tips (and pics) from my nail experience:

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1. I started with clean, dry nails. Before applying polish, RCM suggests shaping the nail, pushing back cuticles, and roughing up the nail itself.

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2. Roughing up the nail does not mean filing it down. Instead, you’re gently buffing away the nail’s natural shine in order for the polish to adhere more successfully (please pardon the soon to be tamed cuticles).

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3. The base coat takes 30 seconds to set and each layer of colored polish takes approximately 45 seconds to cure. Although the directions say the color takes 45 seconds, an RCM representative and I agree that 1 minute works best when using the RCM LED light–just to be safe. In addition, I like to leave nails under the light for 1 minute when curing top coat (Brilliance). The above color photographed a little darker than it is in actuality. However, RCM’s Oh So 90210 is quite comparable to OPI’s Strawberry Margarita.

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4. I like French nails and found this effect relatively easy to achieve with RCM. Upon fully completing the gel manicure in Tre Chic (this includes top coat application), I swiped Sally Hansen’s White Out across the nail tips and allowed the polish to dry for 15 minutes. Finally, I applied RCM’s Brilliance and cured for 1 minute to set my French nails.

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A trick that I recently learned from my manicurist, to prolong white tip longevity, is gently swiping acetone across the nail to remove dulling agents. This tip is only good for use on gel or acrylic nails and should be done in a swift, singular motion.

Enjoy 🙂

Terrorizing the Low Maintenance Boyfriend: A Trip to the Beauty Supply


As previously mentioned, my boyfriend, Mike isn’t exactly salon savvy (although he’s no stranger to the barber shop). After working a sixty hour week, we used his day off to run errands. While cruising down the street, a beauty supply shop caught my eye.

“I need to stop in there real quick,” I said as I hung a sharp right.

“Where?”

“The beauty supply– you don’t have to go in if you don’t want to.”

He raised his eyebrows. “No, I’ll go with you.” Mike is the sweetest type of boyfriend who will follow you to hell and back– just because you’re feeling needy or codependent.

My running list included: Hair cholesterol, 2 pumice stones, 1 nail buffer, 1 nail file, pink nail polish, and topcoat.

Although I moved swiftly to the hair masque section, Mike stopped and stared in a state of quizzical wonder. His eyes followed the shelves up and down and I smiled to myself and grasped a tan colored jar.

“What’s that?”

“Cholesterol.” I explained, “It’s like, super-duper strong conditioner.”

He followed me to the next aisle. “Why don’t you just use eggs in your hair?”

I said, “Because I’m a feminist.”

“What?”

“Never mind. Why would I use eggs when I can just use cholesterol?”

He eyed the price tag. “It seems cheaper.”

“That’s old fashioned. My grandma and her sorority sisters used to do that.”

Mike’s eyes glazed over as we perused the bountiful nail shaping supplies and he dialed his best friend. He said, “Hey, man! Guess where I am right now?” Pause. “Nope. At the beauty supply store with Ashley.” Pause. Laugh. Pause. “She needs hair cholesterol.” When I motioned, Mike stuck out his pinky and allowed me to test two lacquers on his unpolished nails. I held up the bottles and he picked 80s pink over a bubblegum color. “Cholesterol? Oh, it’s like an intense conditioner.” Pause. Mike moved the receiver away from his mouth. “He says you should just put eggs in your hair!”

I rolled my eyes.

Beauty Runs in the Bloodline.


I was obsessed with lavender, peel-off nail polish as a child. I willed the lacquer dry so that I could “jazz hands” my way around the house– and do my nails again. As an adult, I probably paint my nails 2-3 times/wk. To me, there’s something therapeutic in dragging glossy pigment across my nail bed.

Apparently, this is a familial trait. My second cousin, Baby Lyla, challenges my status as “Girliest Girl” in the family. I’m not passing the torch yet, but I try to be a good example to my younger family by impressing on them what’s most important in life– at least in relation to boys & beauty.

When I really care for someone, I beg, “Please don’t over pluck your eyebrows! Let a professional [such as myself] do them for you.”

Lyla’s eyebrows  still qualify as “baby brow fuzz,” so that advice can be postponed until a later date. However, the simplest advice I can offer a little girl with wet nails–or a woman of any age– is, “Keep your fingers out straight, sit still, and don’t touch anything.” I looked her in the eye and repeated, “Lyla, don’t touch anything until your nails dry.”

Her mommy (my delightful cousin, Jane) invoked the genius “kitten claws method” to while away the time. Somehow, a toddler, who wouldn’t move up to her big girl bed for four more days, managed to relax and let her nails dry. I thought about all the times I’d fudged a manicure or a pedicure due to impatience. A child understood the bain of the nail tech’s existence…she listened and her nails looked fabulous for it!

P.S. Her favorite color is purple– can you tell?