For someone who adores nail polish as much as I do, it's pretty strange that I've never actually looked into gel manicures before now. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally sold on the idea and I can see how gel nail polishes might solve all manner of mani-related issues; chipping, smudges, drying time etc etc... I've just never had the spare cash to go out and invest in a fancy Shellac mani at a salon. Recently, I was asked if I'd like to give an at-home gel polish system by SensatioNail* a try and, while I'm definitely no professional when it comes to applying nail polish, I was intrigued to see if an at-home system could rival a costly trip to the manicurist.
SensatioNail is a high gloss, damage-proof polish that claims no lifting, chipping or cracking for up to two weeks, offering results that, previously, were only available with salon services. Their starter kit is designed to last for years and save money and contains enough for 10 complete manicures.
What's In The Kit?
- Gel Cleanser - Cleans the nail prior to application and removes the tacky moisture layer once the manicure is complete.
- Gel Primer - Prepares the nail for polish.
- Gel Base/Top Coat
- Colour Gel Polish - The shade I got in my kit was Scarlet Red (although, ironically, this is the only shade I have that I haven't tried yet)
- Lint-free Wipes - Self-explanatory really...
- Pro 3060 LED Lamp - Quickly hardens the gel polish and seals in colour. A mains adapter is also included.
- Double Sided Nail Buffer
- Manicure Stick
As a total noob to gel polishes I was a bit terrified of this, but it was actually pretty quick and simple. The steps for application were very clearly laid out. I'm not the tidiest of nail painters but I quickly got used to the polish. After cleaning and priming the nail, apply a single layer of the base/top coat and cure under the LED lamp for 30 seconds. The lamp is on a timer so no need to count, it bleeps after 30 seconds and then times out after a minute. Once the base coat is cured, two layers of the gel colour polish are applied, with 60 seconds of curing after each. To finish off, apply a final layer of base/top coat and clean off the tacky moisture layer with the cleansing solution. I found the whole process fuss-free and it was completely hard and dry by the end.
I'd just like to stress again that I'm no pro when it comes to applying my nail polish, but I get by. It took me a couple of attempts to refine my application technique but, once applied and cured, the finished result is glossy, shiny and extremely durable. I did find, with the paler shades, that a third coat of the colour polish was required for it to be truly opaque, but the colours I was given are lovely. I love a pale pastel/neutral for summer. I wore Taupe Tulips to my graduation ceremony and got lots of compliments. I must get my hands on more colours!
I like! As promised, the polish didn't budge for over a week (See above - I never quite managed to test it for the full two weeks because I like to switch up my colours more often than that). It's pretty easy to remove by soaking in an acetone nail polish remover for a few minutes, then lifted off with the manicure stick. I'll admit to peeling it off once or twice, although this was purely a result of me being clumsy with application and it lifting a little at the sides, but I wouldn't recommend it. I'll do as I'm told in future. I'm not sure I'd wear gel polish constantly as I feel like I need to let my nails breathe in between.
The starter kit I've been testing retails for £60. That translates as £6 per manicure, plus you've got your own LED lamp to keep forever. For me, that's a much better option than forking out £20 plus for each mani at a salon, making it a great budget option. As I've never indulged in salon gel nails, or other brands of gel polish, I can't truly comment on how SensatioNail compares but, compared to regular nail polish, there was no smudging, chipping or ferret-related accidents (seriously, the lil furballs seem to sense when I'm painting my nails and jump in to sabotage me). The biggest plus for me is the reduced drying time. The only time I ever feel truly helpless is when I have wet nails.