Gel manicures seem like the greatest thing in the world until you’re watching shards of plastic rain down your legs under the unsexy glow of fluorescent subway lighting. 

And I say that because I’ve done it. I’ve gone against all the best beauty advice I’ve received/given and ignored. I just can’t help it! Does anyone remember when CoverGirl launched Peelers? That prod was my jam in every way. I can’t even be entrusted to wear regular nail polish anymore as not only do my nails reject it, the chips are quicker to arrive which means the peeling journey begins sooner, and my nails become more damaged at a faster rate.

The only way to stop myself is to book standing manicures in which the manicurist shames me into my bad beauty editor behaviour and then I shake my head knowingly and vow to never indulge in the glorious satisfaction of peeling a thick strip of fuchsia gel polish from all ten of my nail beds. But I don’t always have time/organizational foresight (guyzzz online booking is sometimes glitchy) to make this happen.

Which is why the arrival of OPI Gel Break caught my eye and tattered nail beds. After a particularly aggressive self-removal (at my desk, natch), I further tortured my nails by dipping them into an acetone-laced pot of remover, which soaked up every last bit of oil they had left on them, which was essentially their only lifeblood.

After one coat of the shimmery Serum (Step 1), which was a touch more watery than regular polish, the warm stinging pain in my nails dissolved, like aloe to a sunburn. I let that bit dry and chased it with Stage 2, a creamy colour called Properly Pink (which felt very millennial pink) and felt closest in texture to a true nail polish. The last step was the Protector, which lays down like at heavier topcoat with ultra shine.

I truly felt smug and victorious about my faux healthy manicure for a solid 48 hours until it chipped. And you can guess what happened next.