My Top Five Beauty Products From Whole Foods

The only department in Whole Foods that I normally skip is the beauty department. It's true. I guess I've always just felt that the Whole Foods beauty department contained products that would be of little or no interest to me due to them smelling weird or my assumption that they were ineffective. Well we Read more

10 Year Blogiversary #Giveaway: Mischo Beauty

I am super excited to kick off our 10 year blogiversary month of giveaways with Mischo Beauty! I've known Kitiya since the beginning and I am so proud of her for launching her 5-free nail lacquer brand. The Diana Nail Lacquer Set pictured above is part of her Icons Collection. We're Read more

10 Years Blogging 10 Giveaways

Dear 2005 self, launching A Girl's Gotta Spa! ® was your best idea yet. I still cannot believe that 10 years later, I'm still here. All thanks to you, our readers, both old and new. Instead of re-hashing all that I have learned in 10 years (because you can just read Read more

Why Oral Health is Important

Disclosure: Thanks to LISTERINE® I’m practicing good oral care as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars #Listerine Is your mouth on your side? Poor oral health affects aspects of your life that you may not expect. While improper oral health practices deeply affect the health of your mouth, you may Read more

Susan Posnick COLORFLO Loose Mineral Foundation and Kabuki Brush

I know that this may sound somewhat contradictory, but I love wearing makeup that I can't really feel. I like knowing that it's there on my skin, but do not want to be reminded that it's actually sitting on my skin throughout the day. This is why I love wearing Susan Read more


Nail Down Your Perfect Shade with GelColor by OPI

If all these new developments in nail technology, from Axxium to Shellac and beyond, have you feeling dissatisfied with your typical run-of-the-mill spa treatment, you’re not alone in wanting more from your mani! OPI has answered your prayers with yet another way to boost lasting power for your lacquer, and after much speculation and anticipation, the brand’s brand-spanking-new GelColor shades are slowly but surely arriving at a salon near you… if you’re lucky!

After just 30 seconds under a salon’s LED lamp, you’ll have glossier color pay-off and a tough-as-nails finish that doesn’t feel any thicker than your regular manicure. For the trend-spotters who can’t wait to get gel versions of the most recent collections, you may be out of luck for now, but the good news is, GelColor comes in 30 of the brand’s most popular classic shades, including Lincoln Park After Dark, You Don’t Know Jacques, and I’m Not Really a Waitress. And there’s no better way to improve on the original than with a long-wearing gel coat that’ll keep your favorite shades chip-free for several weeks!

– Alexandra Gambardella

Guest beauty post from my friends at

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Nail Polish Leave a comment

Pros and Cons of Shellac and UV Gel Manicures

Pros and Cons of Shellac (TONS of comments on this post - good and bad!)
When I first heard about Shellac, UV and LED gel manicures, I was over the moon excited. I could finally have polish on my nails sans chipping and polish peeling for more than 3 days and all without having to apply fake nails. In August, while at Cosmoprof, I received an awesome manicure from CND in Hot Pop Pink (pictured below.) The manicure took just as long as having acrylic nails or wraps put on (an hour) and the result looked just as amazing. I remarked to the manicurist just how gorgeous her own nails looked, as they were long and it didn’t even appear to be naturally her own. She told me they were and that wearing the Shellac helped her achieve the length. I believed her, until my own experience has led me to believe otherwise.

My CND Shellac lasted me 3 weeks. I was ecstatic. I applied CND’s SolarOil to my cuticles and under the tips of my nails on a daily basis as instructed by the manicurist. My nails had grown a bit during this time and I was excited to go for round two of another CND Shellac at my local salon. This time I went for a French manicure CND Shellac. My nails were finally long enough to adorn some white tips and I was stoked. I went about applying the SolarOil again daily, but this time it only took 3 days for one of my nails to peel and the Shellac to come off. Day 4, one of my nails broke and it became clear how brittle my nails were becoming. By day 5, all of my nails were either peeling (the nail itself, not the polish) or breaking.

Looking at my very soft, peeling nails, I decided to not apply any polish at all for 2 weeks, but continued to put the SolarOil on them. But sadly, they didn’t seem to recover. In the meantime, I had been sent the complete Red Carpet Manicure LED Starter Kit and as I was about to have my first television appearance, I knew my nails had to look amazing. So I used the kit, which comes complete with a portable LED light and is a DIY home LED manicure kit. Colors were gorgeous, time was still about 1 hour to complete the manicure and I used their Revitalize cuticle oil daily. But by day 3, my nails were peeling and even more brittle. I now had stubs for nails (even shorter than pictured above.) Finally I asked fellow friends in the salon business and fellow bloggers if they experienced the same of gel manicures, and it was a resounding yes.


Manicure can potentially last up to 3 weeks
No chipping
Manicure is instantly dry upon last UV go round
Mirror finish (nails look wet, but aren’t)
Can DIY and look just as amazing as at the salon
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous


Very drying to your nails
Repeated application (without a breather) will result in brittle and peeling nails
Wear time gets less and less with each application
If you don’t apply the cuticle oil daily, your nails will dry out a lot quicker
Costs add up, especially if the manicure doesn’t last 2-3 weeks
CND Shellac requires it’s own Remover Wraps
According to some doctors, the UV lamps can cause skin cancer (but the jury is still out on this)

So it appears that, at least for me, a CND Shellac or UV gel manicure will only happen for special events (like holidays, TV appearances, events) and cannot be worn all of the time. Unless I want to continue having man hands with my stubby nails.

In the meantime, I will be in nail re-cooperation with Qtica’s Cuticle Repair Balm and Qtica Nail Growth Stimulator to regain my length.  I’d love to hear from you: what has your experience been with UV gel manicures?

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Nail Polish 68 Comments