While I wait for a turn at the CND Shellac mani table (mentioned in this story), I'm playing with OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel, an update on the standard gel nails experience. In the photo above, my Axxium manicure is three weeks old. I'm wearing a tweaked version of Axxium in You Don't Know Jacques (Tips Nail Bar & Spa owner Leeanne Colley added a little white, and, in her tradition of naming a shade mix after the first client who uses it, called it You Don't Know Janine).
Unlike standard nail gel (which I've never tried), OPI Axxium is designed to go on the natural nail, is flexible, comes in a range of OPI's most popular colours from clear to Bubble Bath to Miami Beet to My Private Jet, and can be removed without sanding down to the original nail. Like standard gel nails, OPI Axxium is an odourless gel applied with a small brush to a lightly pre-roughened natural nail surface, and requires two minutes in a UV light box to set or cure each layer. (If you're worried about UV light exposure during your manicure, read this.) After base times two, colour and a non soak-off top coat and the last two minutes under the 9-watt UV bulbs, nails are completely dry and able to withstand a lengthy purse-rummage for your car keys. Mine withstood four weeks, including a week of testing a variety of Aldo nail polish colours and top coat on one hand (below). I got two wee chips in the finish on my way to have it removed. (Do not remove it yourself by chipping it off; you risk nail damage if you don't know what you're doing. It's not called a soak-off gel for nothing.)
A kind of genius thing about gel nails is that you can paint right over them with regular nail polish if you want a different look for a few days. (It's that non soak-off topcoat -- it's acetone-proof.) I don't recommend painting over a dark colour with a light colour -- I needed three or four coats of the Aldo shades to cover the You Don't Know Janine (*giggle*) adequately. The Aldo shades, except for the metallic blue, all went on matte, so I topped them with Aldo's clear top coat. And after a week, which was then three weeks with OPI Axxium, I removed the polish with a Sally Hansen Nail Colour Remover Pad, as you'll see below. (Note: start with a standard basecoat polish to avoid discolouration of the Axxium underneath.)
What most amazed me is that right up until the OPI Axxium removal the following week, four weeks to the day of its application, my cuticles at the base of the nail were nearly pristine. According to Leeanne at Tips, cuticles grow when they're in contact with the natural nail. It seems they take a vacation when gel covers the nail. Odd, because the Axxium even when first applied didn't touch my cuticles.
Removal requires another salon appointment; get the details here.
OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel manicure by Rita Remark at Tips Nail Bar & Spa. Cost there is about $50, the same as two regular polish mani appointments. To find an OPI Axxium salon in your area, contact OPI via this link.