When people ask me about soak off gel, there are several reasons I am given most as to why more people don't make the switch from regular polish. 1) "I have a large collection of nail polish. I would hate for it to go to waste." 2) "I can't commit to a color for that long. I like to change it up." 3) "I like to wear bold colors on the weekends, but I have to keep it conservative for work."
My answer to all of these reasons is usually something along the lines of "Ok, but why is that stopping you?" One thing many people don't realize is that there are several ways to use RNP with SOG. I'll list them now and elaborate on each in a few moments. 1) You can apply RNP over a SOG manicure. 2) You can sandwich RNP between layers of gel. 3) You can use RNP for nail art.
1) If you have a dress code for work or simply can't commit to a color for longer than a few days, you can still get the strength and protection of SOG without giving up your ability to change your nail color. I wear RNP over my gel on a regular basis. And the best part is you can apply and remove RNP without damaging the gel underneath! Simply use non-acetone remover and you're good to go. Plus there are added benefits to layering SOG under your RNP. First, the RNP dries much faster over gel. Second, the gel hides any ridges or imperfections. This is awesome for metallic polishes that tend to show every flaw in the nail. Third, the gel adds strength and protection to your nails to help reduce the risk of breaks. Last but not least, RNP tends to wear longer without chips over SOG.
I'm wearing this complete SOG manicure at the moment. The color is OPI GelColor Bubble Bath. It's a great, office friendly nude.
2) If you have a bottle of RNP that you simply love but can't find a SOG alternative, no problem. There are many types of polish that simply are not offered in SOG. For example, linear holos. I don't know why there isn't a SOG holo on the market, but I assume it has to do with the gel being too thick of a base for the holo pigments. Either way, I love my holos and I love that I can still wear them without giving up the strength from the SOG mani.
When I wear my holos and other special RNP, I could layer them over the gel and use a RNP top coat, but I often want them to last even longer. So I sandwich the RNP between gel layers. Also, I should note that I can't wear RNP by itself. I have tried every combination of base, color and top coat I possibly can, but it always chips within 24 hours. I am simply too rough on my hands. SOG has been a God send for me.
Here are the steps to doing a successful RNP sandwich.
1) Begin your gel mani as usual, following your regular prep and cure the base coat. Be sure to cap the tips, allowing a bit of gel to overflow onto the underside of nail as I show in this post.
2) If you're using a semi-sheer RNP that needs undies, apply a coordinating gel color and cure. If your RNP is opaque, you can skip this step.
3) Apply your gel top coat, cure as usual, and remove the tacky layer.
4) Apply your RNP as you usually would, allowing each coat to dry before adding the next. Cap the tips, but be careful to leave a bit of the gel showing on the underside of the nail where you allowed it to overflow when you applied your base. Having the gel that extends past the RNP on the underside of the tip gives the top coat something to grab.
5) Finish with a RNP fast dry top coat if desired to protect your color until it has time to dry completely. I usually wait at least 4 hours before continuing to step 5.
6) Give your nails a quick scrub with a nail brush and an oil cutting soap without moisturizers to remove any oil that may have come in contact with your nails while your RNP was drying.
7) Swipe the nails with isopropyl alcohol or dehydrating prep (as you would before beginning your SOG mani).
8) Apply two coats of gel top coat, curing each as directed. Be sure to cap the tips and wrap the top coat as you did the base in step 1 so that it extends past the RNP layer and completely encapsulates the RNP in gel.
9) Remove the tacky layer, moisturize with cuticle oil, and you're done.
This is the same gel mani pictured above (OPI GelColor Bubble Bath), but I have added two coats of Color Club Halo Hues Cloud Nine and topped it with a coat of Gelish Top It Off. Sadly, my photography skills didn't capture it in all it's glory. However, you can clearly see that the SOG top coat didn't hurt the holo effect. Another added bonus: if you wear holo polishes, you know they often don't last long. Sandwiching a holo is the perfect solution. And the gel hides any imperfections that holos tend to accentuate. You also don't need an aqua base when using SOG.
3) You can use those RNPs for nail art either on top of a SOG mani or sandwiched between gel layers. I use RNP for stamping nail art as well as dotting and striping. Actually, I have found that you can't really stamp with SOG polish. If you can get it to transfer, it doesn't give crisp lines. I have a number of stamping polishes, but I also found that most of my RNP stash will stamp.
4) If none of the uses above appeal to you, then there's always one more way to use RNP. Pedicures. Though I do tend to use SOG on my toes as well. ;)
As you can see, there are many ways to combine RNP with SOG. You can use it to spice up a boring work appropriate SOG mani (or to hide a non-work appropriate SOG mani). You can sandwich RNP between layers of gel for lasting wear. And you can use RNP for nail art on SOG manis. So if you're already using SOG, break out your old RNP stash and use those babies! Or grab that new RNP that caught your eye at the drug store but you passed up because you only wear gel. And if you're avoiding SOG due to one of the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I hope I have helped you put your fears aside.