I love a good manicure, but I don't love paying for one. I also don't love taking time out of my day to go to the salon every time I want a fresh coat of paint. That's why I'm always on the hunt for new nailcare products and techniques—anything that will help me achieve an at-home manicure without looking, well, like I have an at-home manicure. In other words, I'm trying to strike a balance between affordability and professional-looking results. It hasn't been easy.
You can imagine my excitement when I caught wind of a nail polish brand that A) allows me to create a long-lasting gel manicure in the comfort of my own home B) is worn by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Alessandra Ambrosio, and more, and C) is actually affordable. I'm talking $13 a bottle. Whatever you call it, a trifecta or a triple threat, I'm convinced this is it. Keep scrolling to see which brand it is and learn why I (and so many celebs) love it.
The brand is called PLA, and it sells lash and nail products to professional artists. With more shades than you can possibly imagine, plus high-quality and ultra-pigmented formulas, it's no wonder celebrity nail artists use the brand on their A-list clients. Most recently, celeb fans include J.Lo, Selena Gomez, Alessandra Ambrosio, Blake Lively, and Kylie Jenner, among others. Keep scrolling to see their fave shades and get some major mani inspo.
The Celeb-Favorite Shades
Blake Lively is even in on the PLA nail polish action. Her manicurist, Elle Gerstein, created a '70s-inspired manicure for her ahead of the Michael Kors runway show during New York Fashion Week. She used the shade Howl You Doin', which is an orange-brown shade. Is this not the perfect fall color?
Kylie Jenner's PLA nail polish shade of choice is this rich, royal red, called Messy Business. After her nail artist, Zola Ganzorigt, completed her manicure, Jenner posted a picture of it on Instagram, captioning it, "Very very excited about my red nails."
I too was "very very excited" about Jenner's red nail color, so that's the one I decided I wanted to wear on my fingers for the next few weeks. Red is such a universally flattering shade, and it can also be moody and striking for fall, so that's the one I felt most drawn to.
Now, I'm not a nail artist, and I only have limited experience working with gel nail polish, so I expected this would prove to be more difficult than my normal mani routine. However, it was actually pretty easy. I started by prepping my nails—trimming and filing my nails and pushing back my cuticles. Then, I applied a thin coat of the brand's base coat and cured it under the UV lamp for 60 seconds. From there, I applied a coat of the color and cured it for another 60 seconds. Finally, I applied the topcoat and cured it once more.
Next time, I'll follow PLA founder Michelle Nguyen's instructions. "For gel polish, your manicure should last two weeks with a gel base and topcoat," she says. "After about 10 days, your nails might appear less shiny. For application, we recommend applying two layers of base, curing for 60 seconds of each layer. For topcoat, apply one coat after your final cure of gel polish, curing for 60 seconds."
As for the actual color, Nguyen recommends doing two coats. "For first-coat application, apply as close to the cuticle as possible. When you apply the second coat, leave just a small hair gap from the cuticle, which will help avoid the polish lifting from the nail."
When it comes time to remove, Nguyen says you can use a nail buffer to remove the topcoat. "Once your topcoat is removed, you can place a cotton ball soaked with acetone to the top of the nail, and wrap with foil. After 15 minutes, the polish will come straight off!"
In my experience, soaking in acetone is the key to keeping the natural nail healthy. Don't peel the gel off or try to remove it by scrubbing your nails with a file; it'll lead to weak, brittle, and peeling nails. Trust me. It's better to follow the pro's instructions and soak them for a full 15 minutes. When I did this, I was able to remove the polish without harming my nails, save for some dryness from the acetone.
The whole routine is actually quite easy once you get it down. For me, it's the perfect way to get a professional-looking manicure. So, yeah, I think I'll be sticking with it for quite some time.