I used to be a self confessed gel nail addict, I was that person who booked the next appointment in exactly two weeks after a fresh coat of gels and would shout to everyone who would listen about just how great gel nails are.
Short term, yes. Long term and cruelty free, no. Well possibly they can be cruelty free if you buy from certain vendors I guess, but to have them done at a salon you can pretty much guarantee that it's not.
When I decided not to keep coating my nails in gel and soaking in acetone I started to look for nail care inspiration on youtube to get some motivation to put up with short, weak and flakey nails for a few months. I came across Cristine aka Simply Nailogical and her perfect nails! She's also a holosexual which is just hilarious and hugely entertaining.
Anyway back to nails, in one of her videos she mentioned how when trying to grow her nails she had previously used strengtheners such as Sally Hansen. All that would happen is her nails would get to a certain length and then snap off. Whilst watching this I couldn't stop nodding at having similar frustrating experiences.
Turns out the solution for her was a nail oil that's only available in America... ugh!
However, the main reason for that nail oil working was that it's contains Jojoba Oil and it's apparently the closest oil to our natural nail oils and the body absorbs this better. Science. So of course, I picked up a bottle (cruelty free) from amazon for only £6.
I've been using this for the past month and a half and my nails are the longest (and strongest) they have ever been. They feel hydrated and flexible but also have the strength needed to keep them from breaking. I'm 100% sold on the natural nail look and have gotten rid of half of my nail polish collection.