I’ve been meaning to try O.P.I Axxium mani ever since I tried Bio Sculpture back in September. They are both semi-permanent soak-off gel polish solutions. I met made my appointment with Tessa at Suki’s downtown salon where she not only applied the mani but also walked me through the process. She was kind enough to let my chubby baby hands take pictures of each step. 

top row: available swatches; filing; application
middle row: curing; week 1; week 2
bottom row: week 3; soak-off; removal by scraping

APPLICATION: The nail is lightly filed to make the nail surface a bit rough, in order to really make the application stick. After that came the base coat and then the colour application began. I opted for one of my favourite shades, You Don’t Know Jacques, which was applied in three coats with a fine brush. Each coat required a two minute curing in the UV light box. It was topped off with a very shiny top coat gel, also cured in the light box. There was no unfortunate acrylic smell. In fact, O.P.I Axxium is fairly odourless, even more so than the regular nail polish. 
RESULT: The most beautiful, shiniest manicure that looked really natural (not chunky and Snooki-like). It remained shiny for the three week duration. For the first two weeks, there very no chips whatsoever, even after I filed the nails down a bit (I hate long nails!) and, entering week three, some lift-off was beginning to happen at the base of the nail and they began to peel slightly.
REMOVAL: The gel is filed slightly to roughen up the surface in order for the acetone solution to break down the gel. Then, each nail is wrapped in foil with an acetone-soaked cotton ball. The entire hand goes under the UV light. And finally, the polish is scraped (or peeled) off using a simple wooden cuticle pusher. My nails did look a little on the dry side after, but nothing a little buffing and oil couldn’t fix. I was also really impressed with how strong my nails were after the removal, maybe even in better shape than they were to begin with. 
COST: $50 for the application and $20 for the removal at Suki’s
After trying both Bio Sculpture and O.P.I Axxium, I can’t say whether one if better than the other. The process is almost identical. But, there are definite perks of being able to use your favourite O.P.I shade, even though the selection is a bit limited. Although I haven’t tried it, one also has an option of applying any polish on top of you Axxium mani without damaging it. 
O.P.I Axxium colours

Other than the soak-off gels, I’ve never had a manicure that I’ve successfully kept on my nails. I type all day long and I take kickboxing classes twice a week where I have to wear boxing gloves and punch things. My polish always chips after a day or two. So, if you are like me, this is definitely the smartest option. My chubby baby hands were pretty thrilled! Hopefully, nails salons in Vancouver will get more colours to choose from. 
Thank you to Suki’s for letting me do my little experiment and Tessa for being one of the best manicurists I’ve ever had. Highly recommended!
Want to try? Head to www.sukis.com.
PS. Need a second opinion by a true beauty expert? There is no better place than BeautyGeeks!