Today I had my first ever Belmore Centre Shellac Gel Manicure and I have to confess I had no idea what a gel manicure was but it sounded interesting and I’ve heard it’s a celebrity favourite so if it’s good enough for the rich and famous then it’s certainly worth a try! I last had a manicure almost seven years ago before I had my children, which involved the regular upkeep of plastic fake looking acrylic nail extensions at the local bustling Chinese-owned nail bar in town. They always left my nail beds bleeding and my hands looking like ridiculous Freddy Kruger claws – at my own request I should add. I’m blaming the fashion of the good old days for my plastic claw desire and hope that if I cringe enough from the memory of it then it will somehow erase itself entirely.
My hands are dry and old looking, washed out, worn out and sadly neglected. As my routine is to pop on a bit of moisturiser whenever I’m not rushing around too much to remember. I like to keep my nails painted, which always looks so pretty to start with, but not even twenty-four hours after spending rather painstaking time and effort I crack and chip them somehow, if not snap my nails off completely whilst rushing around after the children. Thank heavens for The Belmore Centre.
Pulling into the car park of the Belmore Centre which was clearly signposted from the main Stoke Mandeville Hospital road, I was pleasantly greeted by the friendly and welcoming staff at reception before being shown to a beautiful white stone waiting area filled with beauty products, soft lighting and soothing music. A few moments later I was greeted by Lauren, my therapist, and shown to a peaceful, cosy and quiet treatment room upstairs which was furnished with beautiful white and purple materials and sumptuous soft fluffy towels. After answering a few questions about my health concerning the procedure that I was about to have, Lauren showed me to a chair where I sat down and the forty-five minute appointment began.
Lauren began by filing my nails to shape for which I chose square as opposed to round tips. Unfortunately I’d broken a nail this morning which tore it down to the skin and made my middle finger very tender, it also meant that my other nails would have to be shortened down to balance out the length and make them look more uniformed. My second school-boy error was to have worn a dark red nail varnish which I removed just before my appointment and in doing so had smeared the colour all across my fingers like a child returning home from messy play.
I then had a liquid squirted onto my cuticles to soften the skin at the base of the nail so that it could be pushed back and trimmed off, which was completely painless, giving a perfectly clear nailbed for painting. I then had a hand massage which worked out the aches and strains starting from my cracking tight wrists right down to my aching fingertips, leaving them not only feeling beautifully smooth but revitalised and lighter than air. It’s not often we think about massaging hands but it makes a world of difference.
My nails were then buffed before the varnish was applied. I ooh’d and ahh’d over colour samples for a few minutes before finally settling on a rich coral. First a base coat of nail varnish was applied, followed by two coats of colour and a clear top coat for which I placed my hand under a drying machine in between to set each layer. And this is where the Gel Manicure differs from regular nail varnishes. The Shellac gel is a thicker liquid which has to be set with a UV light in between coats to cure, and it leaves the nail colour incredibly glossy, protected against breakage from the extra thickness and perfectly shaped like an extension whilst still maintaining a natural look. As an extra special treat I decided to have a Rockstar Glitter nail on my ring finger for which gold metallic glitter was brushed onto my nail and sealed in a clear varnish which twinkled beautifully from every angle.
Not only do my nails look natural, fashionable and perfectly glossy, but my hands are beautifully soft and look revitalised from their massage. I really enjoyed my Shellac Gel Manicure today and it was nice to have a little me time. I can’t help but want to look at my hands and smile as they look so precise and perfect and will last between two to four weeks before my nails regrow, which quite frankly put my old plastic claws to shame and have gloriously restored my faith in manicures. Perhaps next time I’ll try a French Gel Manicure.