How it works: This patent pending UV3-boosted polish is touted as a world first because it’s not gel-based – this means it’s easier to work with (gel products can be rubbery and stick to the nail more, therefore causing more damage when removed).
Colour choice: Not good – Shellac only offers 12 colours (none of which are really high fashion). The one shade we wanted (a ballerina pink) wasn’t available, so we had to opt for a sheeny neutral.
Process: When we arrived at the salon only one therapist had been booked to apply the Shellac, which meant we were there for more than two hours – we’d recommend booking two people. Four coats are applied (base coat, first coat, second coat and top coat) and each one is set under a UV light, meaning nails are instantly dry.
Long lasting? Yes – the colour coating is thin, so ‘regrowth’ isn’t obvious and the polish is rock hard and remains genuinely shiny for three weeks, although only two weeks of wear is recommended.
Removal We went to the salon to get the polish removed professionally (which we highly recommend). The beautician put acetone-soaked cotton pads on our nails, wrapped them in foil for 10 minutes et voila, it flaked away.
Nail condition afterwards: Great – we couldn’t see any difference.
We docked a point for the lack of colour choice.
Available at Aroushi Salon, Al Wasl Rd (04 348 6263). Dhs100 mani, Dhs110 pedi, Dhs110 French mani, Dhs120 French pedi, Dhs50 for removal.
How it works: The foundation gel creates an adhesive bond between the nail and the polish, but unlike acrylics doesn’t require dehydration or drilling.
Colour choice: Amazing. We were given a massive wad of fake nails with 130 colour samples. We went for grey.
Process: A clear gel was brushed onto our nails and we spent two minutes under the UV light. Two layers of colour were then applied (with a UV session in between), finished with a strengthening top coat.
Long lasting? Chipping wasn’t a problem, although the polish felt soft and there were a few dents after the two weeks. Regrowth was obvious because of the thick layer of colour.
Removal: Nails are wrapped in foil and placed in heated pouches; after about 15 minutes the foil is removed and the colour is scraped off. The whole process is fairly easy.
Nail condition afterwards: Fine – we were worried the full-on gel would be particularly bad for our nails, but they were only a little scuffed.
We took off half a point for softness, half a point because they don’t offer French manicure and half a point as this is the most expensive option.
Available at Nail Spa, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9078). Dhs130 mani, Dhs150 pedi, Dhs60 for removal.
How it works: This gel-based treatment is the same as the Bio Sculpture gel, although this one comes out of a normal-looking nail polish pot.
Colour choice: There are only about 15 shades, but these cover most bases, including French manicure options.
Process: Nails are well-prepped with a thorough manicure and pedicure before the gel is painted on like a regular polish. Several coats are applied and you have to ‘dry’ under a UV light for 60 seconds between each coat.
Long lasting? From the moment you step out of the salon, this polish stays put – no paper flip-flops necessary. Three weeks later and regrowth starts to be a problem, with a gap between the polish and your real nail, and the ridge getting a little scuffed.
Removal: Not great. We weren’t encouraged to come into the salon to have the polish removed, and doing it at home meant soaking our nails for 10 minutes in acetone nail polish remover and then scraping off the remaining polish with a cuticle stick. We still haven’t managed to get it all off.
Nail condition afterwards: Again, not great. It’s impossible to remove all the polish at home without damaging the nail when scraping, so you’re left with ridged nails. That said, if we’d had it removed at the salon it may have been easier.
We docked a point for post-nail condition and half a point for the difficulty we had removing the polish.
Available at Beautiful Times Salon, Al Abbas Building, Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road, Bur Dubai (04 352 9966; www.beautifultimessalon.com). Dhs100 mani; Dhs120 pedi; Dhs120 French mani; Dhs140 French pedi; Dhs60 for removal.