Mally 24/7 Gel Nail Polish System

I ordered the Mally 24/7 Professional 17 piece Gel Nail Polish System from QVC at the end of August. As a recovering nail biter, I have to just keep my nails painted. I usually only have time to do my nails once a week, so usually by the time I put on a fresh coat, things are looking pretty ragged. So I really liked the idea of having a beautiful manicure that lasts for two weeks without chipping. And I liked that this system uses LED lights, rather than UV. The kit was on special, and I justified it by calling it my birthday gift to myself.

The set arrived surprisingly quickly, and I wasn’t ready to try it yet, so I had it hanging around for a couple weeks. During that time, I read some more reviews, and while most people seemed thrilled with everything, some people (who seemed to have actually used the kit) had some complaints about the products and process. There were even a couple horror stories, and I was pretty close to just packing everything up and returning it. But I decided to at least give it a shot.

Attempt 1: From start to finish, the entire process took about an hour. There are a lot of steps and different products you put on your nails to prepare them. Then you do the base coat, two coats of color, and the top coat. I was not really thrilled with the four color options that came in this kit, but ended up using Aristocrat, which is a kind of beige color, similar to one of my favorite regular polishes. There are other Mally brand options you can get from QVC, and of course there are also other gel polish brands out there. The final step is the top coat, and once that’s on, the manicure is supposed to be good to go until you take it off (and you really have to want to take it off). My only complaint about the application process was that the color on a couple nails got kind of blobby and bubbly, and then was stuck like that until I removed it. There were no bubbles when I put my fingers under the curing lamp, so I don’t know what happened there.

I applied it on a Saturday, and I removed it the following Thursday night, only because my nails had grown out so much that the length was bothering me, and the grown out part without polish looked kind of unattractive. But I had spent the week picking labels off of things, cleaning bathrooms, typing, and living my normal life without any thought of protecting my nails, and they remained completely shiny and chip-free. By Thursday morning the tips were just starting to look like they were wearing off.

Removal was kind of a pain. The first step is to break the seal or remove the shininess from the nails by using a nail file across them. I’d heard some bad stories about this step, so to be a little more gentle, I used the coarse side of a buffer. Rather than soak my fingertips in a bowl of acetone for 20 minutes, I used the “cotton ball” method: soak a cotton ball in acetone, put it over the nail, and hold it in place by covering your fingertip with foil, leaving it on for 15-20 minutes. You can only do one hand at a time, since you need the fingers of your other hand to apply the cotton balls and foil. Then you pull off the foil fingertips and use a tool to scrape the nail polish off, and according to the videos I’d watched, it just comes right off. Well, not in real life. This was another area where I’d heard some horror stories of the top layer of the nail coming off, which of course will weaken nails if done on a regular basis. So to be more gentle, I used a wide wooden orange stick, rather than the metal tool that came with the kit. After spending about 15 minutes on each nail on most of my first hand, I finally gave in and used a metal tool (my own, not the one that came with the kit, which seems extra sharp and scrapey). That worked slightly better, but it did sort of feel like I was scraping off the top of my nail. Then I applied a couple layers of nail strengthener, and moisturized my cuticles very well, because all that acetone is really drying.

Attempt 2: I’d seen something called the “gelly sandwich” technique, in which you use the gel polish prep and base coat steps, then use regular nail polish for the color, and then the gel top coat. People use this method so they can use the colors from their existing nail polish collection, or have more of a variety of colors than gel polish often comes in. However, it was really the base/bonding steps that concerned me about gel polish. So I used a regular strengthening base coat, followed by one of my favorite fast-drying nail polishes. The main thing to keep in mind when combining regular and gel nail polish is that the regular stuff needs to be really dry before applying any gel on top. So even though mine was fast-drying, I waited a few hours before then applying the gel top coat. It looked perfect! A couple hours later, I noticed that the polish on one of my thumbs was really messed up – what happens if the layers underneath aren’t completely dry is that it sort of ripples under the gel layer and causes little ridges. When I got out of bed the next morning, I saw that the same thing had happened, but not as severely, on a couple other fingers. I added a layer of regular top coat just to smooth things out, but it wasn’t really that noticeable. I guess if I try this technique again, I would wait even longer before applying the gel top coat, maybe overnight.

I think this method wore even better than the full gel manicure. The very edges of the tips did wear away a little sooner, but I think that’s because I never do that step where you go back and swipe across the tip. I didn’t take any special care with my nails all week, and did just as much cleaning, typing, scratching, etc. as I did the week before. Everything stayed shiny and chip-free for a full week, and probably could have lasted longer if I weren’t so anxious to see how removal went. It was a breeze! Regular nail polish remover didn’t work (I thought maybe it would seep under the edges and remove everything from underneath), but using the pure acetone from the gel kit took off all layers, immediately. I didn’t even do the soaking thing, I just rubbed it off with a cotton ball like I normally would.
[Edit – 10/7] I tried this method again – this time I did the color at night, and the gel top coat the following morning. I think this gave it plenty of time to dry, and there was no cracking or wrinkling. It turned out perfect! [/Edit]

One other technique I’d like to experiment with would be using gel color and top coat over a regular base coat. Maybe next week, as I’m giving my nails a week off right now :o)

Overall, I’m happy with the kit. Yes, you could buy everything separately and save a little money, but if you’re just getting started with gel polish and don’t know exactly what supplies you need, this makes it very easy. As I run out of things, I will most likely restock them from Sally Beauty Supply, rather than ordering more Mally products from QVC. Also, I wasn’t really thrilled with the polish colors that came with this set. It included two very pale pink shades (one of which I believe is sheer), a bright red, and Aristocrat, the brownish one that I used and liked. However, I looked at the selection of Gelish colors at Sally, and there were way more options. Plus, like I mentioned, you could layer it with any regular nail polish. Mally also claims her kit has one additional preparation step that others don’t, but I think it’s just something that dries out your nails a little more. Probably not awesome for you, or 100% necessary. The light is nice and seems to work well, my only suggestion is that I might add some kind of lip to the top of the opening, so the bright light doesn’t shine up into your eyes when using it. Also, you need to cure your thumbs separately from your fingers because the light isn’t that deep or wide, but I know there are larger ones where you can fit an entire hand at one time. And one improvement they made to this kit since it was first introduced earlier this year was to include a zip-up case that everything fits into, which is very convenient for storage.

Gangnam Style Roundup

I will assume that by this point, unless you’ve been under a rock for the past several weeks, you’re familiar with the explosive Korean hit, Gangnam Style. I’ll admit, when I first saw my friends posting the video on Facebook, I didn’t click the link, because it looked like some kind of spam thing. I finally watched it myself a little over a week ago. I have no idea what he’s saying or even really what’s going on in the video, but most of the rest of America, I’m hooked. Here’s some of my favorite parodies and covers:

30th Birthdays!

Yes, “birthdays.” I feel like I was celebrating for about a week!

First, I guess you could count our meal at Amada in Atlantic City. It took place between GG’s birthday and mine, so we justified the expensive meal by saying it was kind of to celebrate both of us.

Then, the Friday before my birthday, GG and I went to Union Trust. I’d bought a deal from Livingsocial earlier this summer, and it was about to expire, so we made it a little birthday thing. The restaurant was gorgeous, and the food was amazing! Because we were using the deal, we had a limited menu to choose from. But we also saved about 50%, so I am ok with that. The steaks of course were amazing. I had a filet with espresso powder and truffle butter – I am still thinking about it. By the time we got to dessert, which was included with our meals, we just couldn’t eat anymore, so we got our desserts to go and had them at home a few days later – and they were awesome too!

Then on Saturday, I got together with a few friends for a little birthday day out. I hadn’t been planning on doing anything, because I was getting kind of stressed out trying to plan something. But I figured it was a big birthday, so I should try to do something. So we went out to get our nails done, and walked around and shopped a little bit. Then we went to the Melting Pot, where my mom, grandmother, and another friend joined us, and had a long, luxurious meal. After all that food, we were pretty stuffed, but of course still wanted to do the chocolate fondue course. J kept suggesting that we only get one dessert for the whole group, and it turned out that that was because she’d stopped by the restaurant early to deliver a beautiful cake, which they brought out with our dessert! So yes, there was way too much dessert happening, but the evening was lots of fun. And still low-key and low-stress.

I also hadn’t been planning on doing anything on my actual birthday, which was Wednesday. I worked from home, and my mom came by in the morning and brought me a pie. GG had suggested that I skip band practice that night and we would go somewhere. So we went up to New Hope for the evening, walked around town, because the weather was beautiful, and had dinner at Karla’s, which we hadn’t been to before, but I know we will be back. It was a very nice night out.

So… now I’m 30!

Labor Day in AC

A few weeks ago, one of GG’s friends advertised that he had an extra pair of tickets to see Louis CK in Atlantic City. GG said he was interested, and that set our Labor Day weekend plans into action. A little while after that, based on a conversation they were having on the radio show I was listening to, I asked GG if Manco and Manco’s Pizza (formerly Mack and Manco’s, and I still wonder if Japanese people laugh at this name) was as good as everyone says it is. So he suggested we stop in Ocean City, NJ on the way to AC so I could try it. And finally, we’d been wanting to check out the new casino, Revel, since it opened, if for no other reason than it’s non-smoking. So that was our day all planned out!

Saturday morning, we left around 10 AM, and got to OC by lunchtime. For the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, traffic was surprisingly light. But once we got there, the crowds and lack of parking were apparent. Since we were dressed relatively nicely (at least, not beach-appropriate), we stuck out like sore thumbs as we walked down the boardwalk to the pizza shop. We each had a slice and split a birch beer, and then we were on the road again. There is a road that basically connects all the shore towns, so we got to drive through all of them as we made our way up to AC.

We parked at the Taj Mahal, since that’s where the show was going to be later, and then walked basically next door to Revel. This building is gorgeous. The best part, of course, is that it’s completely non-smoking. That is really the main reason why I don’t like going to casinos, so I actually enjoyed being there. We each blew through a $20 gambling budget (I got down to $.35 before cashing out, GG just about broke even). The decor was really fabulous. Definitely not traditional casino style, where the focus is on the tables and slot machines, and they don’t want you to have any sense of the outside world. At Revel, there are all kinds of textures, things hanging from the ceiling, and even windows! There is a series of escalators that go between the various levels (which, as GG pointed out, would be a really easy place to jump to your death). In addition to the casino and restaurants, there’s also shops, meeting spaces, and a whole hotel/resort with a pool and outdoor area just for guests. We both agreed that we’d like to stay there sometime :o)

Since we were so hot when we first got there, we went to the Distrito bar and got frozen margaritas. (Did I mention that there are outposts of three Garces restaurants here? Distrito, Village Whiskey, and Amada.) The bartenders were actually really interested in talking to us about comedy, and loved GG’s jokes! So we had a great time. Unfortunately, all the margaritas were pre-mixed, so there was no getting a virgin one, and as a non-drinker, I wasn’t doing so awesome after. I didn’t even finish my drink, actually. After that, we walked around and explored for a while, and then GG somehow accidentally ordered himself two drinks while asking about the fruits they were steeping. So he finished one and took the other to Amada, where we had reservations for an early dinner. They had the menu posted outside, so we’d pretty much picked out what we were going to have before we got in there.

The Amada at Revel is really beautiful. GG said he liked it more than the original location, because it was more spacious, and you have nice views of the ocean (we sat right by the window). I loved the decor. It’s a seriously gorgeous space. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fully enjoy it because the food started coming and we had to keep up! They brought the complementary tuna and cracker appetizer, like they do at the regular Amada. We started with a great cheese plate, as well as the patatas bravas, which we’ve been talking about ever since we first had them a couple years ago. GG got this grilled chorizo thing that I did not try, but he loved it. Then another round of food came out: amazing bacon-wrapped dates with almonds in the center (which I am still thinking about), asparagus with egg and truffle (I tried to re-create this once, but I think I missed that key truffle ingredient that makes it amazing – will have to try again!), lamb meatballs (all GG’s), and flash-fried peppers (not what I had expected; I thought they were ok, GG loved them). We finished up just in time to get over to the Taj Mahal for the show!

We met up with GG’s friend, and actually there was a whole crowd of local comedians he knew who were there. I got to meet a couple people I hadn’t really met before, and also just to talk to some of them more than I had in passing. After a “no recording” announcement from Louie himself, Todd Barry opened. He was very funny. Then Louis CK came out, and he was just so awesome! You can tell he’s a nice guy. He performed for about an hour, covered every possible topic, and went out with some pretty hardcore stuff. One of my favorite bits was about how our cell phones are going to take over, and in the future we won’t even know people’s phone numbers so if you want to call someone, you’ll have to ask your phone, and then be forced to listen to an ad before connecting. And he did this whole “Of course… But maybe…” thing. Like, “Of course, children with peanut allergies should be protected and kept away from peanuts and you should keep their epi-pens handy. But maybe, if you’re allergic to peanuts, you weren’t really meant to survive, and we should just give them a couple years and let the problem work itself out.”

After the show, we got out of there pretty quickly, and were home by about 11 PM. I slept most of the way, so it was a pretty quick trip for me. And the cats let me sleep in the following morning, which was glorious. I was glad for the extra day in the weekend to catch up.