Really I should have done two OPI Axxium Gel posts in the first place, one on the application and one on removal. "Much easier to digest the info," chided Staff. And damn if she isn't gloating now that I've essentially split them up for newcomers to Axxium info.
You'll need a 30-minute salon appointment to have the Axxium gel removed. Expect about a $5 charge, which is the rate at Tips Nail Bar & Spa where I had my application. (There a removal is technically free if you have a regular $25-manicure afterward. If you go for another Axxium session, it's $5 in addition to their $50 fee for that service.)
Above are my nails post Axxium removal and a little reshaping (it had been four weeks). Tips owner Leeanne Colley first lightly buffed the colour surface to remove the topmost protective layer of gel, a non-soak-off formula (it's what allows the application and removal of regular polish over Axxium without harming the Axxium shine). After that, I soaked my fingertips in a bowl of acetone, which Leeanne had warmed by placing the bowl in another bowl of hot water. It felt like water unless I lifted my fingers out, at which point they felt weirdly cool. You know, like they'd been soaking in nail polish remover. (The foil method described here is an alternative and just as effective; it's how technicians remove soak-off gel pedicures, too.)
After a few soaking minutes, Leeanne used a cuticle pusher to slide under the gel layers to flake them off. While she worked on one hand, the other fingers soaked. It took a few cycles -- about 15 minutes -- to get all the layers off. And note: while the process felt like it was scraping the Axxium off my nails, once the cuticle pusher hit the bare nail surface, it slid. My nails weren't scraped up in the least. Nor did they feel tender or sensitive afterward.
I couldn't resist. I went for a new application of Axxium Gel, this time with just one coat of custom shade You Don't Know Janine -- a whisper, if you will. Dark shades are tough to do sheer, so Leeanne had to work a bit harder to make it look even.
We weren't sure how this mani was going to hold up because it has one less coat of gel. According to the OPI website, Axxium is really only supposed to last "two weeks and beyond." Plus how well it lasts without peeling or chipping off is down to how good your technician is.
But guess what? I'm two days shy of three weeks and have the most miniscule of chips (a chippete, really) on the corner edge of my thumbnail and at the corner edge of my pinky nail. My nails grow crazy fast, though, so the regrowth is really visible (if I were wearing a standard OPI Axxium colour, I could touch up with the matching nail polish). If yours grow at a normal or slow rate, you'll get even more out of a well-applied Axxium mani than I do.
To find an Axxium salon in your area, contact OPI via this link.