When Gelish nail technology first arrived in Singapore about ten years ago, people fell in love with the smooth lustre and durability of this semi-permanent manicure.
Then more recently, nail technicians from the land of the rising sun introduced Japanese Gel Nails to our land, and they've been rising in popularity since. In case you haven't yet joined their fervent fan-base, here's a breakdown of why they're so beloved.
Made exclusively in Japan, this technology involves soft-gels, applied to your nails to create durable and versatile designs. The application process is similar to that of Gelish: The technician will first apply a clear coat, followed by one to three coats of colour and one last clear coat to finish, before setting everything with a UV lamp. Depending on the number of coats you'd like, the treatment time is also comparable. However, there are a few key differences Japanese Gel Nails and typical nail-gel manicures.
Do your lovely Gelish nails sometimes get chipped within a week?
5 days after Gelish Nails done at a nail salon in City Square Mall
That often happens to Agent G, and she had resigned herself to it as the inevitable result of her admitted carelessness...until she tried Japanese gel nails at Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon. Her virgin experience of them was on the day before the Circuit Breaker (6 April 2020), and she didn't get to have the gel removed till almost three months later, when nail salons resumed for Phase 2 of the reopening. Witness her nails as of 20 June 2020:
75 days after Japanese Gel Nails done at Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon
Yes, her nails have grown out, but look at the gel-treated portions and how unscathed they are. Agent G realised she was living proof that Japanese Gel Nails can remain intact with nary a chip for TEN WHOLE WEEKS. That's an impressive personal record for her, for whom other types of gel nails start to fall off after 2.5 weeks.
Agent G also found that Gelish colours she chose from the bottle started to look different shortly after application - red gels in particular tended to obviously darken within 48 hours, and continue their slide into the shadows over the next two weeks.
Japanese Gel Nails freshly done at Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon
As you can see from comparing the above photos, this does not happen with Japanese gel nails - the hue ten weeks later is impeccably consistent with the freshly-applied shade. Agent G's nail technican, Mari, mentioned that the pigments used for Japanese Gel Nails are specially manufactured for longer-lasting luminosity.
Made with cosmetic grade pigments, a single coat of Gelish Nails is sufficient for complete coverage. Compare that to typical gelish nails, which require at least 3 coats to achieve complete coverage if you pick a lighter colour. This means your treatment time will be shorter, and that different shades can be used to create even the most intricate nail-art designs; creating an artwork completely composed of long-lasting Japanese gels.
Due to its more concentrated formula, Japanese Gels are thicker than standard Gelish - creating a flawless coat to cover your only-human nail surface - but less thick and artificial than other types of gel nails e.g. SNS gels. Agent G thought this was the perfect consistency.
Unlike other soft gels, Japanese Gels incorporate a built-in gel builder, meaning they are strong enough to have nail extensions done on top of them, without using a separate product. This is pretty revolutionary because this is typically only possible with hard gels. Skipping extra nail-extension products saves on time, and more importantly. avoids articificial nail-bulk for a more delicate and natural-looking manicure.
First of all, the need for fewer gel coats and products means more oxygen can reach your nails. But especially if you stick with trained Japanese nail technicians for your continued mani-maintenance, your nail plates are likely to suffer low to no damage. That's because these experts use a special method called "Fill in".
According to Mari from Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon, sanding is kept to the minimum and done only for a new set of nails. Subsequent set will be sanded only for areas of nail regrowth for better adhesion. On the other hand, the previous gel base is NOT completely removed. Mari leaves just one layer of base coat so that the removal process doesn't pull layers off your existing nail as per typical gelish soak-offs, where you may find your nails becoming thinner and thinner.
But don't take our word for it. Here's an actual case study, courtesy of Agent G heading down to Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon on 6 April 2020.
Hello I'm Agent G, Chief Editor of Beauty Undercover. Ever since I've tried their skillful, affordable Japanese lash extensions, I became a fan of Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon, visiting month after month to pep up my peepers. During my last trip there, I noticed a new staff member (the pretty Mari). Being the kaypoh that I am, I asked my Japanese lash therapist Kayo if she was a new lash artist, here to steal her rice bowl, and she said no, she's an experienced nail technician, also from Japan. Kayo gave me a peek at some of Mari's pretty nail designs, and I thought,
Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could have my lashes and nails done at the same time and step out of the salon with a complete makeover?
For my next visit, I requested for both Ayaka and Mari to do just that, and made an appointment 6 April 2020.
That turned out to be a lucky break, since the Circuit Breaker was announced to be on 7 April 2020. Knowing I wouldn't get professional beauty help for quite awhile, I was glad that two gurus would be helping me get through the month(s) ahead, and actually showed up early to the appointment. As my lash therapist for the day - Ayaka - wasn't ready yet, Mari attended to me first.
This was my FIRST TIME getting my nails done by a Japanese nail technician, and I was psyched for the experience. Here's a blow-by-blow account:
Here's a photo of my nails before we start.
Please don't judge me.
I did my nails about 2 weeks before at a nail salon in City Square but regretted that almost immediately. The "nail art" was uneven and the black strips started chipping days into the gelish manicure. I thought, that was the price I had to pay for convenience (my son goes to enrichment class at City Square Mall).
Mari decided to start me off on a clean slate.
She very gently used a special machine to file off my existing gelish nail base.
She mentioned that it was not necessary to remove all of it, since that would mean traumatising my actual nail. Instead she skilfully left a barely perceptible layer on, so as not to have the machinery come into contact with, and damage, my natural nail bed.
She calls this method the "fill in" method.
All clean now.
Next, came some T&C for my cuticles. First, she sprayed my nails with water and wiped it off.
Then, she began gently trimming the dead skin around my fingertips.
Once done, Mari filed my fingernail edges to sculpt them into the desired shape.
Next, using a rounded-tipped tool, she started pushing back my cuticle with in a circular motion, using light pressure for a really rather comfortable experience. This was to create a larger canvas for the nail colour.
She then used another tool near my fingernail edges to delicately remove the dead skin around the nail.
Here's how my nails looked after.
By this time, Ayaka had prepped all that was needed for my lash extensions, and Mari simultaneously started to apply the base coat.
We moved to a different area in the salon to allow both Ayaka and Mari to work at the same time.
(Psst... this is not allowed under current safe distancing regulations, so do note that they cannot offer both services at the same time for now)
I know that Mari applied the Paragel base coat onto my nails.
To be honest, I couldn't really tell what happened after that since my eyes had to be closed. I can only say it all felt quite soothing and restful.
The next thing I knew, I felt her placing my fingers under the UV lamp
Soon after, she informed me that the base coat had dried, she was applying a layer of sparkly powder on top.
Instead of using the typical brush, I was told that used a eyeshadow applicator to blend the sparkly unicorn powder more seamlessly and evenly onto the base coat.
Why hadn't my former technicians thought of that?
When application is complete, she applied the top coat to seal in the sparkle.
Finally, some lotion to keep the fingers moisturized after the manicure!
I thought it was great that there were fewer layers of nail gel than I was used to at other salons, though Mari wasn't quite done yet.
She explained she was using the filing tool again to precisely remove any excess gel and make my nails look absolutely perfect.
All this was going on while my lashes were being retouched.
For the lash style, Ayaka had chosen mostly 10 and 11mm CC curls for me, interspersed with some C and D curls, for a more natural effect.
I felt nothing, except safe. I always marvel at Ayaka's dexterity in applying the lash extensions while making sure I'm completely comfortable.
After the lash adhesion, she pulled out a tiny machine to help with the drying...
...before dorring a little bit of vaseline on the skin around my eyes to make sure it wouldn't be irritated...
...and my two-in-one makeover was done!
Here's the end result.
First, I think my very gorgeous nails deserve a close-up.
And now, the lash extensions.
I love it, and I love Allongee. While the place looks unassuming, It's me that leaves feeling prettier than when I first walked in. In fact, their lash extensions have so transformed my self-image that I simply can't live without them.
This time though, there is something else to be happy about.
Mommy! You did your nails!It is so pretty! I can see 7 colours on your nails.Can you do it again next time, please, Mommy?~ Agent G Junior (Son of Agent G)
After hearing this glowing report from my favourite beauty reviewer, I knew I had found my new forever nail artist at Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon.
Love the nails and lashes done at Allongee Japanese Beauty Salon?
Note however that safe distancing regulations do not allow them to do both at the same time at present. So do take note of that if you do intend to make your appointment(s)!