Here I am again after a long period of silence, and I want to share one of my recent discoveries. My friend has told me about at-home gel manicures, and how they’ve made her life easier. I have heard about this type of long lasting manicures before, but have always felt skeptical, and always felt like there were too many reasons not to try them starting with fast growing nails and ending with higher price. My lovely friend has been so happy with the results she got, that I just had to try this miracle manicure, and I’m extremely happy I did. I plan to do several blog entries with my experiences, step by step instructions, and useful tips.
After doing some research online I’ve decided to get myself an LED lamp. Those tend to be more expensive initially, but are supposed to last longer, since they don’t require bulb replacements, and they cure gel polish faster. There are many great reviews of Nailene’s Sensationail starter kit online, and that is the one I started with. It is sold in many drugstores and supermarkets, I got mine in Pink Chiffon at CVS for $50. The kit is very basic, but comes with everything you would need to do a manicure. All the bottles are very tiny, they claim there is enough product for 10 manicures, which is possible, since you don’t use much per manicure.
That’s what you get in a kit: cleaning liquid, primer, bast/top coat, color gel, nail file, lint free wipes, orangewood stick (not on the picture), and 7W LED lamp.
You can certainly choose from the huge variety of lamps sold in salon supply stores and online, and many brands (like Harmony’s Gelish) claim that not all LED lamps are created the same, but I find that this particular lamp does the job just fine, and cures different brands of LED-curable gels (EzFlow, ibd, Gelish) perfectly well.
The manicure really does last 2+ weeks without chipping or peeling if you do everything right. Actually even if you don’t do everything 100% right (I messed up a bit doing my first gel mani), it still lasts, or you can easily fix the problem. And yes, your manicure stays glossy, unscratched, with perfect free edge. The mistake I made the very first time was getting some polish on my skin and cuticles, so after about a week the gel started lifting off a bit by cuticles. I gently removed the part that has lifted, filed that area (just polish) lightly, wiped the entire nail with the lint free cloth soaked in nail-prep liquid, let it evaporate, applied a layer of gel color, cured, added a layer of top coat and cured again. Boom! Evened out the grown out nails, fixed the lifting problem, and got another week out of the manicure. Could probably wear it longer, but really wanted to try new polishes I got from Amazon.
This is Sensationail in Pink Chiffon. The color is opaque, and you’d need at least 2 layers to get even color. I’m not crazy about the shade, it looks a bit platic-y, and it takes a lot of effort to get even coats, so I think in the future I will stay away from Nailene’s polishes, and will be buying ibd and EzFlow, which are much easier to apply, plus you get a bottle that is double the size, and pay half of what you’d pay for a Sensationail color. But that’s just my experience, some seem to like Sensationail gel polishes, and it is very likely that other colors are easier to apply.
Either way, soak-off gel manicures are definitely worth trying! Especially if you have a busy lifestyle, hate chipped nailpolish, and do a lot of housework. I do a lot of housework, and generally am very tough on my nails, so regular polish never looked perfect for more than 2-3 days, and this baby is as good as new forever!
I will do separate step by step posts on dealing with growing out nails, removal of gel polish, and on how I do my manicure, so stay tuned!