From runway inspirations to one-of-a-kind designs, our picks are sure to keep you up on your nail game while giving you the 411 on how to recreate many of the looks yourself. This week, nail pro Sashanie Gray shares insider tips on gel nails.

The Trend: Tired of finding your manicure chipped after less than a week? Extended wear soak-off gel manicures may be just what you're looking for. Gel nails typically last 2-3 weeks between visits, according to nail pro Sashanie Gray. In addition to its awesome staying power, gel nails offer incredible shine and prevent nail breakage. While many nail divas love this innovative service, there have been some questions over how to safely remove the semi-permanent nail lacquer. Read below to get the scoop on this black-tie appropriate manicure.

Editor’s Note: To recreate this design, simply apply two coats of Butter London in Union Jack Black vertically down half of the nail. Next, repeat the previous step on the other half of the nail with Polish & Company’s White Party. To create the thin black outline over the white half of the nail, use a small acrylic brush dipped in the black polish and carefully hand-draw the lines. For the accent nails, Sashanie suggests using three coats of white polish sealed with a high gloss top coat like KUR Protective Top Coat by Londontown to create the high gloss look of a gel manicure.

EBONY: What is the correct way to remove a gel manicure?

Sashanie: I prefer using the foil technique. First, I prep the nail and the surrounding skin by gently buffing off the top layer of the gel polish and applying cuticle oil to the surrounding skin. Removing the top layer of the gel polish makes the polish more permeable and allows for a shorter soak-off time. Applying cuticle oil to the cuticle and acetone-exposed skin decreases dehydration and irritation. After I prep the skin and nails, I place 100% pure acetone-saturated cotton balls on the entire surface of the nail and gently wrap the nail and cotton balls with 3”x3” sheets of foil. To expedite the soak off process, I wrap the clients’ hands in a warm towel, as acetone dissolves the gel polish product faster.  

Minajiah Scott