By now you probably know that I <3 manicures and enjoy getting together with some of my girlfriends for mani-pedis. I often feel naked if I’m not wearing earrings or have my fingernails well groomed when I leave the house.
Keeping my nails neat and tidy takes a lot of effort. It’s tough going for weekly manicures – spending an hour getting my nails done and another half hour waiting for my nails to dry. Then praying they don’t chip or show wear and tear for several days between appointments.
So, you can imagine my delight when I saw the sign outside Blobar last August announcing a gel manicure service that lasts 3-4 weeks. Of course I walked inside to see if this was for real – it is. It’s a Axxium Gel System by OPI (I understand other companies offer a similar product). Maybe you’re thinking this isn’t anything new because you’ve been wearing gel nails for years. Well, actually it is because I am wearing my own nails. Both processes require the use of UV lamp. I did find evidence of Axxium dating back to 2008 but I hadn’t heard of it before and neither had all the women who complimented me on my lovely manicured nails from Toronto to Chicago and back.
A few weeks later, I had my first appointment with Jessica-Marie Ellison, “Canadian Nail Artist of the Year” champion several years running. I was getting ready to take a vacation and I needed to have pretty party nails one week later. I wanted bright red nails to match my party dress. I was skeptical but I took the plunge. I was’t disappointed. Beautiful shape, finish colour and... no drying time! Once the process was complete, my nails were done. No sitting around watching the clock waiting for my nails to dry.
My nails looked picture-perfect the night of the party. In fact, my nails looked pretty darn good for the next two weeks. I’ve had many manicures by many nail techs and I love Pema who has been doing my nails frequently at Cozy but I’ve never met anyone as gifted at shaping and finishing them as Jessica.
I went four weeks between manicures. By the time I saw Jessica for my touch-up, I had two chips in the polish. My nails still were beautifully shaped. The main reason I needed the appointment was because my nails had grown so much and my unpolished nail beds were becoming quite prominent.
My second visit was a bit confusing. I knew the polish had to be soaked off and the process takes longer than regular polish. What I didn’t realize was that it required a longer appointment and unless I specified I wanted to change colours when booking, a follow-up manicure meant full service as far as filing, shaping, cuticles and hand massage goes but as for the polish, I settled for a touch up. (Lesson learned: brush up on industry lingo and a bit of drying time is needed for a touch up appointment.) So now, five weeks later, I’m still wearing bright Big Apple Red (but I did break a tiny bit of corner or my thumb nail trying to change a battery.)
For my third visit, I’ve booked an extra 15 minutes so I can change colours. I’m going to try a gel French manicure the next time around. I’ll let you know how it goes.
As for the cost, a regular manicure sets me back $15-$20 plus tip and at least an hour and a half. It lasts me up to a week but with chips, nicks and splits. Gel manicures are about $45 for an initial application and a bit less for a touch up. Cozy Nails will be bringing them in too – I still love them when it comes to service but I think Jessica wins hands-down (pardon the pun) when it comes to the end result. She’ll also share some of her wealth of knowledge regarding industry news and products.
Keep an eye out on Blobar. Other services include blow dries, hair extensions, spray-on tans, false eyelashes and make-up applications and several other esthetic services. It’s run by instructors from George Brown who are planning some interesting events like “How to know your salon has proper hygiene practices” and “How to get the most out of the products in your cosmetic bag”.