It took us quite sometime to decide on whether to get our own gel polish system, but due to popular demand, we did our research and decided to go with the Orly Gel FX system. We like Gel FX for a couple of things:
1) Orly is a trusted nail polish brand, and we love the formula and wear of their lacquers. They also have one of the best color collections out there, and the Gel FX shades are actually Orly's most popular colors like Naughty, Terracotta, and the classic French Manicure.
2) Among the brands we researched, it was one of the few that uses LED light to cure the gel (other brands use UV light). That means less curing time and less exposure to harmful UV rays that can damage your skin.
3) The Orly formula is also free of BHA and monoacrylates, which are harmful chemicals found in other brands. We understand from Orly that their formula is also fortified with Vitamin A and E to help promote healthy nails. (Source:http://www.orlybeauty.com/gel-fx.php)
I road-tested Orly Gel FX to see what it was really all about. My day job involves mostly typing on the computer and usual office stuff, so you can imagine how much "work" my hands and fingers do on a daily basis. Typically, a mani with regular nail polish would last me one week tops before it starts chipping out. (Please excuse the low-quality photos.)
I chose Pink Nude because I'm partial to neutral shades for my mani. The entire process takes around 1-1.5hrs with cleaning. After the manicure, they prep the nail by buffing and applying the primer. Then the usual application takes place (base coat > 2 coats of polish > top coat), only that the polish is cured under the LED light for 30 seconds in between steps. The gel polish dries instantly after curing and you can walk out of the salon immediately without having to wait for your polish to dry (plus points for that!).
More than a week later, the gel polish is still shiny and looks like it was just applied yesterday. No chipping or peeling, although you can already see signs of nail growth in the cuticle area.
Now officially two weeks old, the polish is still shiny and looks like new! Again, you can see further nail growth in the base, but it's not too obvious because I chose a neutral color. The growth might be more obvious for darker shades. After two weeks I decided that it's finally time to remove the polish. I guess the only downside really is that you have to go back to the salon and have it removed. The removal process involves first buffing down the top coat to break the seal, soaking your fingers in the remover for about 15 mins, then scraping off the polish from the nail. Because the process can be quite tedious and abrasive to the skin and nails, we finish it off with a dose of Human Nature's Sunflower Oil.
Overall the Orly Gel FX system really lives up to its claim. The polish was still shiny and looked like new even after two weeks of wear. However, given that the removal process can be harmful to the nail, I wouldn't recommend it to those with naturally brittle nails. I would recommend it, however, for special occasions (weddings, proms, or debuts) or if you plan to go on a vacation (especially for beach trips!). Also based on personal experience, it would be advisable to let your nails "rest" after wearing gel polish (or even regular lacquer) to give your nails some time to breathe and recover :)
PS: Manos is not connected to Orly, nor has Orly sponsored this review. We have tried to make this review as objective and un-biased as possible.