Gel Nails- OPI Axxium Gels vs Harmony Gelish

I have recently become obsessed with gel color nails. Not the typical gel like they used to do like acrylic. I decided to do gel colors because my nails were getting weak and breaking alot and my nail polish would chip just the first day. Thats no bueno when you are wearing dark colors and it’s chipping. These gel systems include colors so I was really attracted to that. With gel nails, you get them done and they are supposed to go at least 2 weeks without chipping or peeling. Now here is the downside– you don’t get them filled (because its color). You have to get the previous gels taken off before getting a new gel system.

I got the OPI system- Axxium Gels done first. Of course, OPI has all your favorite colors such as Lincoln Park, After Dark. (All colors that are avail are not listed below)

There system applies more like Acrylic with a separate brush and jars of the product as you can see to the left. They do the base gel, 2 or 3 layers of the color and then the top gel layer. After each layer is applied, you put your nails under the UV lamps.

One con was that the colors on the box are not true to the shade that will end up on your nails. I wanted a soft brown (I tried Cosmo-Not Tonight Honey (right) ) and I got barely any color, even after 3 layers. It literally almost looked like I had clear on with a very light shimmer that you could only see if you looked closely.  The plus side of that was when it grew out, you couldn’t tell because it wasn’t much more color than my natural nails. A friend of mine tried another color that was supposed to be dark purple and it ended being a fuchsia toned color.

I did get 2 weeks of NO chipping or peeling. Once it started to peel, I kinda helped it along (only because the color was so light and you wouldn’t be able to see it). There was no damage to my nails underneath. After the 2 weeks, it started to lift a little bit which is I’m sure normal. I didn’t have any expectations for it to last months.

On to the take off- I soaked my nails at the salon for about 10 minutes and she used an instrument to kind of push/peel off the gel. The whole process took about 20 minutes to get ALL the gel off.

I actually made the switch to Harmony Gelish system because the OPI colors weren’t true to the box and I couldn’t find a place that had any glitter gel polishes. (After research, I see that OPI Axxium does have a Holiday 2010 Limited Edition Showstopper collection which includes an all glitter line but I haven’t seen it at any nail salons in my area)

On to Harmony Gelish. I found this system online and happened to walk into a place that offered them. This system is much easier to apply. Everything is applied like a regular nail polish. The base, the color (2 layers) and the top gel coat with your nails under the UV lamp after each layer.

Firstly, I loved the fact that I could try the color on first to see how I liked it. (The nail salon must’ve gotten complaints about the colors not being true the pictures…With OPI, the gel is thicker and not like a polish so its not as simple to let you try out the color because they would have to take off all layers). I have the same Con with this system as OPI- the colors are not true to the box.

At first I tried Star Burst which appeared like a dark violet. When she tried it on my bare nails, it was waaayyy too pinky-purpley and not what I expected. She told me after 2 coats it would be darker, but there is no way another coat would have made it that much darker! So I opted to try a Dark, dark purple Bella’s Vampire assuming it would make my nails the dark violet I was looking for. It definitely was what I was looking for. I will keep you posted on if Harmony Gelish lasts as long as OPI Axxium.

What I learned with both systems? Always go darker. Colors aren’t as they appear. If you want a medium purple, go for the dark purple. Unless you are using obvious dark colors like Lincoln Park After Dark..then you really want to watch out for colors.

Would you do it at home? OPI Axxium – Definitely not! It takes more skill to do OPI Axxium because of the application. You have to make sure the gel is even etc…Harmony Gelish- Absolutely would do at home! It is much easier to apply. I actually have the system and 3 colors in an online shopping cart right now. The only thing stopping me is the expensive UV lamps. If I can find one for under 50, I will go for it.

How much were they? In ATL- OPI Axxium was $28 for a manicure and then the gel system ….. For Harmony Gelish it was $28 for the Axxium take down, a manicure, and the gel system (for some reason I don’t think they charged me for the take down).   Remember, in between each one, you have to get the previous gels taken off which is a bummer to me. Both systems should find a easier way to get them off.   $28 every 2 1/2 weeks isn’t bad at all. I stopped getting my nails done awhile ago because I hated that I had to go every 2 weeks. Now, I am going to be a nail salon junkie again! I may switch in between OPI and Harmony.

Thanks for checking this out.


curly comments!

  • Erin

    I DEF want to try this out!!!

  • Can’t believe the salons don’t have sample nails done with the colours for you to choose from! Even traditional nail polish can look different out of the bottle so it makes sense to create a proper colour chart.

  • Tais

    I was wonder if OPI had anything similar like Harmony Gelish. Thank You for sharing you experience about both of them. I do agree with you Harmony is more simple then OPI. Yo should also check on Shellac from CND I heard is very good.

  • taye

    ebay for uv light!

  • Regina

    I tried the gelish gel nails today. I didn’t care for the colors but I like the end result!! I prefer the OPI colors but I don’t know if I will try it?

  • Susan

    Tried Gelish for the first time at the salon 5 days ago. Base coat, 2 color coats and top coat – just like traditional nail polish. The only difference was setting it under UV light between coats. Fast process and dry immediately! My nails are strong and after 5 days not one chip! I went with a deep, dark purple and it has stayed unbelievably shiny. I have not experienced the removal process yet and am hoping it won’t be a deal breaker. Overall, fabulous result so far!

  • Jessica

    i tried the OPI and Gelish gels recently. i did not like the OPI one it chipped in two days, but i have a feeling this may have been because of the way they applied it. When i went back and got them redone (for free) they chipped again. I recently tried the Gelish and LOVED it. Although i am having the same problem with colors not being true to the color they show. I am in the process of buying the Gelish system (and i did find a UV nail light for $40 on ebay) I just received two of the colors i bought off amazon and neither of them are the color i thought they would be. if anyone knows of a website or something that shows them on a sample nail to see the real color that would be amazing!!!!
    But over all i LOVE the gelish!!!!!!!

  • Satalia

    I tried the Gelish System today 1/17/11 and I had a bad experience. The technician applied the base coats and the 1st coat of color and the edges were secured the gelish started melting from the free edge when I placed my hands under the uv light which exposed my natural nails, I just went with a regular polish.

  • Gina

    You can get a UV lamp on Ebay for about $20! There are tons of them. Good luck. And try CND Shellac too!

  • belinda

    my gelish polish only lasted a week before it started to peel and chip, does anyone know why this would happen?

  • Beq

    I love the gelish. I’ve been using them since the beginning of the year, and had them re-done about six times. I find that a few factors contribute to how long they stay intact. The biggest one, by FAR, is the person who does them. At the salon I use, there’s a guy who uses the acetone to ‘tidy’ up the edges and free tip of my nail, which seems to loosen and weaken the gelish, and my nails don’t last more than a week when he doesn them. If I can get the lady to do them, she seems to wrap the polish over the free tip, and I’ve had them last almost three weeks, (until I got bored with the colour and got them redone). Also, if there is ANY foreign substance on my nails at the time of application, (like lotion or previous polish), the gelish won’t bond properly with my nails and will flake off. How much I abuse my nails contributes too, of course! After the first time, I started getting coloured french nails done (with a strip of colour – purple right now! – at the tip, and the rest clear) which doesn’t show the new growth gap as much and allows me to wait longer between manicures.

    I’m a librarian, and handling books all day just sucks the moisture right out of my nails, making them dry and flakey. Since I’ve been using the gelish, my nails and long and strong for the first time in my life! I’ve even gotten brave enough to buy the beginners kit off amazon, and will be trying it myself when it gets here. Fingers (with gorgeous nails) crossed!

  • Jolie

    We started using gelish at my salon 2 weeks ago and I LOVE THIS STUFF!! not only do my clients love it but i have been able to have a fr mani all week even working with acetone my nails are perfect! I have used bellas vampire,gossip girl and passion and im in love with all so far! great product! opi axxium sucks compared to this stuff! and shellac is crap!!

  • HypChyck

    I love, love, love gelish! I never wore color, because it chips, smudges, or I scratch it off with my teeth (bad habit). But with gelish – pure perfection is all you get. My salon has about 30 of the 48 available colors – so great selection – Bella’s Vampire and Princess Tiara being my fave’s. They are sooooooooo shiny. Love it! I can clean the house, wash dishes, cook, work – and my nails stay perfect.

    The gelish mani is worth every single penny it costs!

  • susan

    I love this product. This is revolutionary – AMAZING!!

  • Dee Dee

    I love Harmony, I’ve had fake nails for years so I’m used to my nails being painted and pretty. I have 3 young kids and don’t have time to paint my nails every other day since they chip so this is perfect!! I tried another brand at another salon and don’t know if it was her technique or the polish because it did not last and chipped within a couple days. Needless to say I went back to the salon I always get my nails done n back to Harmony. I’m so glad I found this polish, I tell everyone about it.

  • Cheryl

    just got this in a French Manicure yesterday. It is the most natural looking FM I have ever had. Loved the solar nails, similar to acrylic but hate the commitment of fills and damage to the nails. tech said this will last 3 weeks. one lady there told me her regrowth has her come back before chipping will. as soon as it is done it is dried and set, you can get right in your wallet, etc. will not smudge- not one bit. so far i LOVE it, and may check into DIY kit for home to save$$ ….another GREAT thing is you can pick up anything, papers, etc from a counter top, and with thicker fake nails I could not pick anything up with ease. this is truly your own nails, just indestructible polish. LOL

  • thais

    i first tried opi (salon in smyrna square) and it chipped then I tried harmony in a salon in buckhead. They had opi, shellac and harmony. I liked the harmony gelish the best… since I am a nail biter, it has had the best hold, has lasts the full period it says it does and its shinny, dries fast and the removal process was just fine. I had been dreaming of the day i would finally stop biting because the right product come along.

    Thank you for your article.

    Please post the locations you have found to have harmony gelish.


  • Jen

    I got an OPI Axxium manicure for the first time 10 days ago. I am a nurse and wash my hands A LOT and put lotion on them constantly. The polish is as shiny as it was the first day I had it done. I don’t have a scratch, dent or chip in it. I clean, work and take care of three kids and need a manicure that is worth my money and this one is. The color was exactly like the swatch on the polish jar and it took no time at all. I just made another appointment for next week to have my color changed. My nails also have grown and are so strong! TRY IT!

  • Lauren

    Can you get tips with the gelish?

  • Klista

    Normal polish chips in a couple days on me. I wear my natural nails in a french manicure. Acrylics previously … loved the look but process made nails too weak. Salon suggested the “no clip” OPI system. When applied properly french manicure normally lasted 3 weeks… then clipping. That beats normal polish by far. Used it for about 4 months. Noticed that natural nails needed a break every couple months… wore unpolished for couple weeks and then back to OPI system. Salon recently switched to Gelish. Love it!!! Initial application cheaper than OPI, more simplified process, and nails are strong and don’t seem to need a break. Because I wear the natural french manicure look, I have gone as long as a month & 1/2 w/o pealing or chipping…just new growth. Love it!!!

  • Julie

    If you’re in Atlanta, this beauty school offers the Gelish manicures for $18 And, no. I don’t work for them. 🙂

  • Trista

    I just had my first Gelish manicure last night! I’m super excited to see how long it lasts! I used to get acrylic nails religously! But after I got engaged I had to start saving that extra money for the wedding. 2 months to go! Yeah!! My nail girl said that she would highly recommend sticking with the Gelish and not ever going to back to acrylic, as my nails will grow and still be healthy using the Gelish system. It cost me $30, but I am traveling over the holiday weekend and can’t bring nail polish in my carry-on so thought this would be a great time to try the system!! I am highly considering purchasing the stuff needed to do this at home!! It would be a little investment, but I think @ $30 a pop at the salon, it would pay for itself very quickly, and I’m sure a few friends would love to come over and we could all do our nails together! Let me know if anyone finds any great deals on the products and the UV light!! Thanks!



  • janell

    as few people said with the opi axxium i was disappointed with the pigment of the colour but, what i like about it is that hold your nail like acrylic verse the gelish the colors are what they are the bottles. i spent so much money on the axxium and was some what disappointed. i think they should be up front about the pigment of colors. afer all it is expensive

  • Betsy

    I’ve used the Harmony Gelish twice and LOVE it. I get about 3 weeks out of them. Prior to this I had acrylics for years and then switched to gel nails. When I took the gels off, I tried to keep them up with just manicures and couldn’t. So this was suggested. I was living in another state then. Just went back there for a visit a few weeks ago and had the Harmony Gelish done again. I did the french manicure.
    I tried the Shellac in the area I’m living now. I did not like it at all. It doesn’t last and it peels.
    Problem I’m having now is trying to find a salon in my area that does the Harmony Gelish. I’m now due for a new one and can’t find one even after googling. So I guess I’ll be calling salons in the area to find out.

  • Betsy

    I’m in the Midlothian and Powhatan, VA area if anyone knows of a place here that does Harmony Gelish.

  • Cindy

    Sally Beaty Supply has the lamps for $24. They also have the Gelish kits, colors, and individual supplies.

  • I have been giving myself axxium manicures for about 6 months. I love it. Prior to axxium I tried gelish and shellak both did not hold up and chipped almost immediatly. Although the colors axxium offers are limited compared to the other brands but in my opinion OPI’s quality far exceeds other brands. To the people having trouble with the color not being dark enough, I can guarantee that you are not applying it thick enough. I apply the first coat thin and apply the second coat thicker. If after 2 coats you are still not happy add a third coat. Also make sure before every manicure that you stir the pot of color completely with a metal stir stick. Affordale uv lights can be purchased off ebay for as little as 40 bucks. Make sure its a 36w (4 – 9w bulbs) in order to cure axxium.

  • JOAN