After paying 35USD (without tip) for gelle/ gel / shellac manicures, I bought my own kit at Target.
Let me add, I have only ever had TWO manicures with the product, so that means I watched it applied twice and removed once. The second salon experience (same shop) was BAD.
The 2nd application hurt (burnt my fingernail beds, which I later read in DIY tips & tricks means the product had been applied too thickly) AND started popping off on day 2. If I hadn’t been on the road, I’d have returned with a request to fix it.
I probably would never have had the courage to buy a kit had my second experience not been so terrible.
My poor cuticles came to BITS from the removal. I believe this meant that she used too harsh of a product or didn’t do something else correctly. You can see in the photo my cuticles are still fairly bad but that’s not from MY doings! They started poorly. The cuticle ‘lines’ are a bit off and that is my doing. They mean it when they say steer clear of edges.
Also, as I’m discussing the photo, the ‘highlight nail’ is an old fave from the 80s: a ‘coke’ nail! I know the kids do ring fingers but back in the day, your pinky finger meant you might party and who didn’t party in the 80s? I’m old and I like my throwbacks.
The kit that I purchased contained that coral. I went to Ulta and got 2 more polishes (they have to be meant for LED curing unless you’re going to do a ‘gelly’ sandwich*) in this steel shade and something called mink but it looks like a glittery, rose-gold. I haven’t used that yet. They were on clearance and BOGO, so yay! I purchased a 4USD bottle of acetone which *says* that it’s meant to not harm skin. I believe it because I’m ashamed to admit: after 15 minutes of removal tip-foil-soak, I had to do 4 fingers over (hadn’t made good contact with the moistened cotton) and while I was at it, did it for 20 minutes for a total of 35 minutes on those poor 4 fingers. They showed none the worse for it because they were not the fingers you see with cuticle problems (where the 2nd salon trip’s 10 minute removal TORCHED every cuticle; they had over a week of healing and frequent oil application).
I’m not going to pretend that I think any of this is good for your nails or cuticles. It cannot be. It’s basically EPOXY / resin. The removal is basically napalm. But…it wears much better than regular nail polish. I’m a huge fan of OPI but even with higher end polishes, I have to do my nails daily. My nails have always been thin and peel (which then breaks where it peeled or tears along that line). It’s probably due to autoimmune disease. I have never had acrylic nails (glued tips which need fills) because I’m cheap. I only tried this shellac method due to continued prodding of friends and family. There’s my History and Why.
I’m giving the product, especially for the price of 50USD regularly, TWO THUMBS UP. -that’s a pun!
The instruction card (there’s also a microscopic fold-out instruction sheet) told me most of what I needed to know but I also visited their website to watch how-to videos, which gave a couple extra tips.
Things I’ve learnt from DIY experience:
- buy a ‘healthier’ acetone (not putting down SensatioNAIL’s product, I chose to get a nicer one since my cuticles were in terrible condition from the salon)
- make GREAT contact with the moistened cotton, if doing a wrap removal, or you’ve wasted your time
- dominant hand has greater precision but oddly, my non-dominant hand looks less neat — probably because I slowed down and was very, very careful (read: it’s not a race)
- don’t waste money on primer (unless you want to) because all you need is alcohol
- do choose lint-free cotton / wipes if you can afford it, otherwise you have to do lint-removal and not get natural oils on your nails in the process
- think THIN coats
- really, really, really avoid edges / cuticles
- cap the nail (instructions state this and I was adamant about it and it seems to be doing the trick)
- oil cuticles at least before you go to bed — I knew to do this from the start but do not skip this and if you have an issue, oil more frequently; hand lotion will not suffice
I’ll learn more as I practise but I’m dead-impressed with my handiwork for a first time out, especially since I only ever had professional shellacs twice.
There are many brands and while I wanted the Mally kit (love me some Mally Beauty!!!), I was totally iffy on doing this myself. I’m super-happy that SensatioNAIL not only was a much more affordable kit to TRY but also that it looks damned fine. I mean, look at that coral nail again. That’s 100% SensatioNAIL product. The steel is Red Carpet (with SensatioNAIL base/ top coat and primer).