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Beauty Lab: Neo Day Spa's Nail Bar

Or: Quite possibly Fashion Week’s best manicure.
Beauty Lab: Neo Day Spa's Nail Bar Or: Quite possibly Fashion Week’s best manicure.

Are you a side-peeler, top-chipper, hangnail biter, or like me, all of the above? Seeing as we’re #AlwaysOn(/line), our manis, obviously, are the first to go. Luckily, our crisis-savvy friends at Neo Day Spa at The Fort were quick on the uptake. Enter: gel manicures. Allegedly lasting as long as three weeks (I was suspicious too, at first), the process—aptly called Everlasting Manicure/Pedicure—makes use of specific Orly gel polish that, when blasted under a UV light to dry, is completely chip-resistant and lasts as long as your nail grows.

The process starts with the usual manicure, with Neo’s specially-trained nail technicians performing the usual “cleaning.” Next is the start of the Orly-specific procedure, which begins with a cleanser to remove residue/oils and is followed by a gel basecoat. I was instructed to place my hand under a UV light dryer (looks similar to the ones in other nail salons), with the only difference being this dries the polish in 30-60 seconds. Then comes the actual gel polish, which as its name suggests, is somewhat slippery—a bit tricky when you want those creamy nudes, since they tend to go on a bit streaky; my technician was very good at rolling the bottle between her palms and keeping the fluid from settling all throughout. I had to place my hand under the futuristic-looking UV light between each coat, which was my fave part, since having my nails dry in just one minute made me feel very The Jetsons.

To really test things out, I chose a different nude for each nail, from Country Club Khaki to Kiss the Bride. The technology really worked!

After two color coats, the technician applied a top coat, which had to be “sealed in” via UV light as well (The delinquent polishee in me performed a “press test,” and true enough, my digits were completely dry afterwards, as in zero fingerprints, bubbles, and/or lint.). Everything was also jam-packed with vitamins A, E, and pro vitamin B5, so all that UV exposure gets canceled out and nails are still fortified.

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The only thing niftier than the instantaneous drying time was the durability of the manicure; it literally lasted an exact two weeks and survived around 10 events, gown pullouts, article deadlines, rabid keyboard clacking, and the like. The polish did peel off around day 15 or so, and only because my nails were growing out and negative space started showing at the nail bed, causing the gel to lift slightly.

A downside is that if you’re a polish junkie, you’re quite limited to the gel color selection—although I hear they’re bringing in more shades, so excited!—and have to go back to the exact place for removal, which can take around 40 minutes, and only using their special polish remover. If you’re the obsessive type who retouches as soon as things start getting imperfect, this might pose a problem, especially since you can’t troubleshoot on your own.

Oh, and to maximize my time, I tried a foot reflexology session too, which relieved those pressure points. It felt kind of strong at first but in a good, “unknotting” way, so I felt even more prepared to take Fashion Week head on. Rabid Instagramming and heels for hours on end? No prob.

Everlasting Gel Manicure, P700 (40 minutes); Gel Pedicure, P800 (45 minutes); Ingham Method of Reflexology, P850/60 minutes; P1250/90 minutes, all at Nail Bar, Neo Day Spa, tel. nos. 815 8233/815 6948. Cel. no. 0921 477 9999. E-mail nailbar@neo.ph. See the Salon & Spa Directory for details.