Why I Love The Sensationail At-Home Gel Nail Kit
Nail fix and chill…
Despite not being the biggest fan of my hands, if I look at them and see gorgeous, glossy coated nails then it makes me tolerate them just that little bit more and life is good again. Ask anyone and they will tell you I am a nail polish addict.
This is why one of my favourite pampering treats is a manicure, especially gel. I love doing my own nails and it’s one of my favourite ways to chill. At the same time as costing you a fair bit of money with each salon visit, a gel manicure can save you hell of a lot of time and hassle in the long run so for me I think it’s worth it.
However, after a few salon visits to have my nails done with gel prior to holidays or if I’ve just fancied having someone do it for me, I’ve decided I am just too fussy and picky to be 100% happy! I always leave feeling fairly confident that I could just as easily have done it myself.
So, I decided to brave the big bad world of DIY gel nail polish and purchased my own at-home gel manicure starter kit from Sensationail which includes:
File & cuticle stick - to create the desired length, shape and size of your nails
Gel primer - to create an extra sticky layer to help the gel polish to adhere and is beneficial at removal stage too
Gel cleanser & lint free wipes - removes and natural oils, dust or lint and is used at final stage of gel manicure to wipe away the tacky, stickiness on each nail.
Clear top/base coat: the first coat of polish before colour, and the last coat after colour
LED lamp: to cure, set and bond each layer of polish together
What is gel polish?
Before I go any further, if you are unfamiliar with gel polish then let me say it’s your best friend when it comes to holidays, special occasions or just a nice break from worrying about what to do with your nails. Gel nail polish is long lasting with 24/7 glossy shine and is applied like regular polish, but each application and layer of polish is set (cured) in a LED or UV lamp.
Preparation of the nail and nail bed + 1 x base coat, 2 x coats of colour, 1 x top coat = is all that’s required when it comes to ‘perfecting’ that beautiful gel polish manicure/ pedicure for up to two weeks (maybe longer, because nails grow and you’ll probably want to change it).
Don’t get me wrong though, as much as I love painting my nails there’s a time and a place for gel manicures - you do have to be in the mood, well I do anyway! Gel nail polish is a bigger commitment and if you make a mistake or aren’t entirely happy for whatever reason, once you’ve cured the nail under the lamp you’ll have to either see it through to the end or soak it off with acetone - you can’t just wipe it off without making a mess (trust me on that one!).
It’s taken me up until now to say that after a lot of trial and error, I am confident enough to do my own gel nails at home with my Sensationail Kit and I feel more and more satisfied with the end result every time I do it - practice makes perfect as they say.
Price wise, the bottles of Sensationail polish come up between £10.00 / £15.00 on average depending on where you buy, but if you are shopping around be aware some polishes are masquerading as genuine Sensationail products at a deceptively discounted price (especially on Amazon) - so do your research or stick to the Sensationail website just to be on the safe side, or even stores like Boots.
Reasons To Love Gel Manicures
You can resume normality as soon as a gel manicure is finished! This is the biggest bonus of all, no waiting around for the nails to dry because the polish is cured and set with the lamp.
Yay for feet! It’s great for pedicures and when it’s cold I just can’t bear the feeling of waiting for toe nail polish to dry when all I want to do is put my socks back on, gel polish means you can put those socks straight on - just grin and bear it for that hour or so it takes to apply and then you’re done!
It’s self-levelling, which means even if you haven’t got the steadiest of hands (particularly when using your non-dominant hand) it’s really easy to apply the polish evenly across the entire nail.
A second coat hides a multitude of sins, so if the first layer of colour polish is streaky or not quite even, the second coat can usually correct it.
You can expect full shine and gloss the entire time with no dulling - it’s fantastic stuff.
It lasts! There are, as always, mixed views on the durability of DIY gel nail polish but I am a big advocate for the long-lasting aspect of it. Provided you’ve followed each step correctly I see no reason why it shouldn’t get you to a two week mark with no chips or peeling still with a gorgeous, glossy shine!
Reasons I may not want to love it, but still do anyway…
It requires commitment
In an ideal world where time, patience, peace, quiet and no interruptions is easy to come by, then this is your key if you want a gel manicure done right. We don’t live in an ideal world, so I allocate an hour to the task at hand (pun intended) to ensure I do it properly from start to finish - which is where you can see the results of long lasting wear for up to two weeks. I know from experience that if I rush or cut corners or just ‘shove it on’, it just won’t be 100% right and I’ll get annoyed at myself.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
In order for the gel polish to adhere properly, it needs a smooth, dehydrated and abrasive (buffed) nail surface. Without this, the gel nail polish layers won’t bond as well, causing it to lift too early and begin to peel off. So make sure cuticles are pushed back, nails are dry, buffed and shine free ready for the base coat.
The removal is the part I dislike the most which is why I’ve left it til last. The gel nail varnish is so, totally worth doing for the long-lasting glossy colour alone and the fact you don’t have to worry about your nails for a couple of weeks, but the removal sadly isn’t a wipe off job with remover like with regular polish. It requires soaking the nail in acetone with cotton wool and wrapping it in foil or similar - and waiting. The acetone will cause the gel polish to begin to peel after around 15-20 minutes (but you can check before then) and you can proceed to push the polish from the nail easily and it should flake off. If you find you’re having to scrape it off, then leave it to soak a little longer as you really don’t want to damage your nails. You can also buff away the top shiny layer to help the acetone better reach the layers of polish.
Some helpful tips:
Sensationail gel polish lamp curing timings:
Base + top coat = 15 seconds (lamp flashes)
Each coat of colour: 30 seconds (after which the lamp goes out)
The Sensationail website has a step-by-step guide to achieving your at home gel manicure and I swear by it every time. If all these steps are followed accurately you should be able to enjoy your mani for up to 2 weeks.
Don’t shake the bottle as this can create little air bubbles in the polish, roll the bottle gently between your hands instead.
Don’t touch the nail at any stage until you’re finished (it’s so tempting) but because each layer of polish will be tacky and sticky until you wipe them with gel cleanser it’s best not to touch them as this can interfere with the next application layer of polish.
Don’t paint the nail polish on too thick as I’ve found this can cause lifting.
Like with most nail polish in general it’s probably best to let your nails breathe after removal - at least a few days before applying more.
Early peeling? If you’ve found the gel polish is peeling already, this is probably not because the product hasn’t worked. This is because, for some reason, the nail wasn’t prepped correctly and there is something on the nail that’s causing the gel polish to lift and it hasn’t adhered properly - this could be oil on the nail, lint or a tiny spec of dust - this is why the prep stage is so important!
I would recommend sticking with the same brand if you’re planning on doing this at home. I’ve tried to mix ‘n’ match gel polishes and whilst they probably all do the same thing, but the OCD in me feels more comfortable that way.
I hope you’ve found this helpful if you’re thinking of going it alone with gel nails. There is still room for improvement on my part as I’m still not 100% entirely happy with the way I do mine, but I remain a big advocate for this at-home gel kit and would highly recommend it.
My DIY Sensationail gel nails in the flesh
*This blog post is not affiliated with Sensationail or any gel manicure brand. This is my personal experience with using my own Sensationail at-home kit.
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Thank you lovelies, you are amazing. xo