Question: Why do some salons use water in the manicure prep process and others skip it?
Answer: Up until two years ago (when I got gel for the first time), I’d never had a waterless manicure, but lately, it seems more and more high-end salons are skipping the soaking step and focusing just as much on the nail prep as the actual polish application, gel or non-gel. According to celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann, this is a good thing. “When you soak your fingers in water, you nail expands, so if you put polish on after that, before they’ve started to shrink back to their regular size, the polish will be ready to chip the moment you touch it to something.” Basically, she says, “you’ll have a longer-lasting manicure if you skip water.”
Why then does anyone use water? “It softens dry cuticles and makes them easier to cut,” says Lippmann, but it’s unnecessary if the technician knows how to use cuticle remover and cuticle oil in the proper manner. “So many salons put on cuticle oil before pushing it back—and that’s like putting on a face oil and hoping it’ll exfoliate.” Instead, you should apply remover, softly push back the skin and wipe the nail clean. Then, if you have any skin sticking up, you can carefully trim just that piece. “What you never want to do is cut all the way around,” warns Lippmann. “Think of it like this: A superblunt haircut that’s perfect and even isn’t going to be six weeks later because hair grows back differently. On a microlevel, that happens with your cuticle. It grows back unevenly and it’s why they’re ragged and peeling five days later.”
The verdict is in: no water, no cutting, no problem.