The problem with my nails is that I have been blessed with thin nails. If they grow much past the tip of my finger, they break. I knew that there were kits out there that promise to give you the same results as an at-the-salon manicure would do.
So, I headed over to my local beauty supply store to see what was available to me. They had kits for like $70 that came with the UV lamp. Um, no thanks, next. Then I stumbled across this little gem.
For $11.49, what did I have to lose? Here is a review for those of you that are looking for a gel manicure without the salon prices.
The size of the box is very deceiving. The larger box makes the polish bottle look much larger than it is. Honestly, it's like the size of a sample nail polish from Avon. However, included in the box is also the Activator and another bottle to wash the polish brush in between polish coats. The inside plastic packaging also doubles as a nifty little tray to organize your materials while using them.
Here is what I started off with. After peeling away the UV gel for a few days, I filed and buffed my way to this. Some of my nails ended up really thin, but as they grow out, they will get stronger. A good clean base is always best to start with, so I also ran a paper towel soaked with polish remover over them to make sure all the oils were removed. This will help the polish stay longer. I also did not use a base coat.
First you need to brush on the Activator. You need a thick enough coat for the polish to "gel" with the Activator, but not too much where it is like a puddle on your nail or all over your cuticles.
Next, you will follow with a thin coat of polish. The instructions suggest doing one hand at a time and definitely do one hand at a time. The Activator starts to dry pretty quickly.
You'll then apply another coat of the Activator and polish and top it off with a layer of Activator. The final coat of Activator must go on while the last coat of polish is still wet, so again, work one hand at a time. This is what your completed manicure will look like.
The polish really does dry rock solid and has an amazing shine to it, but I promise you, this didn't take 5 minutes. They probably meant to say 5 minutes per coat. Yea, I'm sure that's it. Either way, the entire process took maybe 20 minutes. Reasonable amount of time, don't you think?
One of the other reasons I used to get the UV gels done was because regular polish manicures last like a day on my nails. It has always been that way. So, I really wanted to test out the staying power this polish had. After all, saving money wouldn't be so fun if I'm repainting my nails every other day. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Here is what my nails looked like after a week of wear and tear. Not really the results I wanted to see, but to be fair, I put these puppies through heck and back. I typically wear gloves when I do dishes, this week I did not. Another reason, I'm assuming that the polish cracked and chipped is because the nail underneath was very damaged and weak, making it easier for the nail to bend and essentially crack the polish. Once my nails grow out, I will get even better results.
The Removal Process
I'll admit, I was most worried about this part of the process. It really did hold up pretty well and I thought it would be a pain to get off. Naively, I busted out the acetone and a cotton ball. I was really hoping it would just "come off". Nope, not even a smear.
So, out came a cereal bowl. I filled it with acetone and soaked for about 2 minutes. Note to self: next time use clear acetone. Seriously, my finger tips looked like the circulation was cut off. Thankful that went away with a good scrub.
I let them soak for about 2 minutes, as recommended on the instructions. Two minutes was definitely not enough, but it did soften the top layer and I was able to scrap it away. A little messy and sticky though.
I dipped them back into the acetone for about another 2 minutes and the majority of it came off with a little scraping. This was the best I could get them .
With a little filing and buffing, I was able to get a nice fresh start for next time. I think though that I will go with just a clear coat until they have grown out and are healthier.
For $11.49 and a little me time, yea, it was totally worth it. I think the application process was relatively easy and took around 20 minutes. I'm sure the more I use it, the better they will look and hold up. As far as the staying power, I was impressed. It certainly held up better than a regular polish even with weakened nails. Removing the polish was a little messy, but nothing so bad as to make me not want to continue using the polish. I do want to mention, though, the colored polish is not sold separately, so for each different color you buy, you will need to buy the entire kit.
Hopefully, this review was helpful to you. If you have used this product before or are going to give it a try yourself, I'd love to hear about your experience, results and tips!!