I’ve been a little obsessed with gel manicures for quite some time now. I mean who can resist the allure of chip-free polish and a manicure that looks great for two weeks? The only drawback? I’m a little against spending money on a mani when I can do it myself for less/free so it was with a whole lot of glee and high expectations that I tried the SensatioNail LED At-Home Gel Polish System this weekend.
SensatioNail’s LED at-home gel polish manicure system starter kit comes with everything you’ll need to DIY your own gel manicure including nail buffer, manicure stick, compact LED lamp with adapter (no searching for batteries to keep the lamp going) and both long and quick reference instructions.
So last week I settled in to try my hand at the at-home, soak off gel manicure. Below are the instructions.
- After filing and buffing your nails and pushing back your cuticles clean nails with the gel cleanser and lint-free wipes.
- Apply gel primer to the outer edges of nails.
- Apply gel base and top coat to your nails (don’t forget the tip of your nails) and place under LED lamp for 30 seconds (or when lamp beeps once).
- Apply one coat of colour gel polish to nails and place under LED lamp for 60 seconds (or when lamp light turns off). Repeat for second coat of polish.
- Apply gel base and top coat to nails and place under LED lamp for 30 seconds (or when lamp beeps once).
- Swipe nails with gel cleanser and lint-free wipes to remove moisture layer.
Voila! You’re done.
The first thing I noticed about the SensatioNail gel polish system was how many things and steps were needed in order to get the gel mani I so coveted. The application process took longer than it would if I had applied traditional nail polish (I’m going to chalk that up to me being a gel nail mani newbie), I needed more tools and it required more skill because you have to be extremely careful not to get any product on your nails (no quick clean-up with acetone and a brush).
Another thing I noticed was the removal time. In order to remove the gel mani you have to soak your nails in warm nail polish remover for 15 minutes (my removal process for both hands took over an hour) and then gently scrape off the polish with a manicure stick. Definitely longer than traditional polish but the trade-off is a manicure that lasts for two weeks.
Needless to say, the results cannot be denied. My nails were shiny, I didn’t have to worry about smudged nails and I had a mani that remained chip free for a week. Unfortunately, I got bored with wearing the same polish colour so I didn’t stick it out for the entire two weeks BUT I had a perfectly good chip-free mani on my left hand.
I played around with the application on both hands to see what worked best. Swiping the gel primer on the outer edges of your nails results in a much shorter removal time (think 20 minutes instead of over an hour). Also, MAKE SURE TO SWIPE THE TIPS OF YOUR NAILS. I didn’t do this on my right hand because I wanted to see what would happen and the hand. And what happened? The polish on the left hand began chipping after less than 24 hours.
VERDICT: I love the shine and hardness of the gel mani (stronger nails means no chipping) and I would recommend this product for those with intermediate to advanced nail polish applying skills. Personally, I would use the clear gel polish as a top coat over my usual manis to protect my nails and designs from breakage and chipping. However, the colour polish isn’t something that I would use regularly. The application process is a little too tedious (all those steps, curing and meticulous application! Not to mention the removal time) but I would use it for vacations, LGFW/Rogue Fashion Week, Caribana and other times when time is of the essence and a chipped mani is a major inconvenience.