It's no secret that gel manicures are damaging to natural nails. All of the scraping, the filing, the acetone-soaking, and UV radiation are a helluva price to pay for long-lasting, non-chipping lacquer. No shade: I love treating myself to a gel manicure once in a while. But knowing how brittle and sensitive my nails get — and the proper recovery time it takes to get them back to normal post-nail polish removal — I wonder what I can do to help my nails thrive when I put them through a lot of chemical processes.
As luck would have it, while in the middle of giving my nails a long break from my trademark polish (OPI's Big Apple Red, an absolute classic), I received a pitch about Londontown's lineup of $20 nail concealers, which had gone viral since its launch in 2019 for its nourishing ingredients. Since then, the women- and family-owned clean beauty brand has sold over 1 million bottles, garnered over 2,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, and sold out all its existing shades at least five times. These nail concealers are available in an original sheer, a subtle ballet pink, and a brand-new milky gray, which is the hue I tested for this story.
What is nail concealer?
Honestly, a nail concealer looks similar to a semi-sheer polish. A few coats of the stuff is supposed to "conceal" any nail discoloration and unevenness, giving "the illusion of naturally flawless nails," as Londontown's website states. (Which, obviously, regular iridescent nail polish can also achieve.)
Where the Illuminating Nail Concealer differs from just another shimmery polish is that it's made with botanical oils and extracts. There's a porcelain flower extract for brightening, a lime tree extract for rejuvenation, and Londontown's proprietary blend that includes cucumber extract, evening primrose oil, and vitamin E for nourishment. In essence, these nail concealers are designed to help treat damaged nails in between manicures. (Or, you can simply wear the concealer as an everyday shade.) The nail concealer still smells like regular nail polish, however.
How do you use nail concealer?
I started off with clean nails, or as clean as they could be. I washed my nails, pushed my cuticles back, and trimmed the excess skin like a nail technician would at a salon. There was residual clear polish on some of my nails from a previous manicure that I used acetone to remove — but some of it just didn't come off. (Why is nail polish like superglue sometimes?) Whatever, I decided to paint the concealer on top of what remained.
I then started with one, then two, then eventually three coats of the Quartz Illuminating Nail Concealer. It goes on pretty sheer, so one coat didn't really conceal all the nail blemishes I wanted it to — so I kept layering. I have to say that a huge upside to applying such a subtle sheen is that it's hard to truly mess up your nails in the process. Even if some of the nail concealer gets on your skin, it's barely noticeable, and you can just gently scratch it off later. After I was done painting, I let my nails air-dry. Nail concealers are supposedly quick-dry (or they dry much faster than typical nail polish), but since I really caked the stuff on, I still waited about 20 minutes for them to dry completely, to be safe. The final result? A pearly finish with a slight glaze.
Who should use nail concealers?
As long as you have nails, you can use a nail concealer! Since these formulas are blended with nourishing oils, nail concealers are particularly ideal for people who desperately need to repair their nails from getting too many gels done. (I personally like the idea of using the concealer as an in-between-manicures color, too.) The iridescence does successfully mask imperfections, but that's also dependent on how many coats you apply — me, I essentially used the concealer as a pearly polish. "Natural" was not my final look, but hey, I'm normally a nail polish girl and polished I shall look.
In the end, it's reassuring to know that this concealer is protecting and strengthening my nails while I give these tired fingertips a much-needed break from polishes. At $20 a bottle, it's certainly not a cheap product but it's also not a total bank-breaker either. It's definitely an easy and low-maintenance nail care product to always have on hand (lol).
Shop all Londontown Illuminating Nail Concealers:
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