Is Calgel the Safe Alternative to Gel Manicures?

As fond as we are of our manicures, we’ll admit they don’t exactly promote nail health. We’d probably all be better off foregoing polish entirely, swathing our fingers in cuticle creams, loading up on vitamin E and leaving well enough alone.

Too bad we’re already addicted to mani-pedis. We’re living in an age of increasingly intricate nail designs, ones that have managed to cross the line from tacky into the realm of undeniably chic. Women walk around with everything from Chanel-inspired French manicures to recreations of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on their fingertips, and we want in on the action, especially with the season of strappy sandals just around the corner.

With that said, there are some considerable health and budgetary concerns to take into account. What’s the use of going to the salon and dropping upwards of forty dollars on a standard mani-pedi, only to have the polish chip or smudge hours later? Unfortunately, gel and shellac manicures, which take infinitely less time to dry, last considerably longer and are therefore more cost-effective also come with a whole slew of health risks, ranging from acetone-massacred nail beds to UV exposure.

Luckily, there may be a safe alternative on the horizon. Lately we’ve heard many a mani-devotee singing the praises of Calgel. According to the company, “Calgel requires minimal buffing of the nail plate prior to applying gel coating or gel sculpture treatment and no primers are used either. Your natural nails will not suffer damages from filing and application of harsh chemical solutions. Calgel does not contain acrylic or other monomers, and has no offensive smell that is characteristic of conventional nail products. Used on its own, it does not damage the natural nail.” Furthermore, the gel is gas-permeable, so your nails can “breathe” naturally. It’s also highly flexible, which reduces the risk of painful breakage.

Unlike denser gels, Calgel soaks off easily using non-acetone polish remover or Calcleanse, a special formula developed by the company. You don’t need to file down your nails—and risk tissue damage—in order to remove the polish. Finally, the finished product lasts about four weeks.

We must, however, add a couple of caveats. Unfortunately, there’s still the issue of UV-curing (though the exposure is nowhere near as extensive as with typical gel manicures). At the moment, if you want a Calgel manicure, you’ll just have to bring your SPF-fortified hand cream along to the salon or request the technician use LED lights (which we highly recommend). There’s also the price, but what do you expect—you’re paying for a month’s worth of flawless nails.