Makeup & Beauty

Test-Run: DIY Gel Manicure Kit

(SensatioNail Gel Polish / 1 week after application.)

The reason why I don’t ever, ever get salon manicures: I don’t know whether I don’t wait long enough for my nails to dry before returning to normal activities, or whether I just have color-repelling fingers, or what, but I am completely incapable of making newly polished nails maintain their pristine state longer than two or three hours. And insta-chips are maddening when you’ve just sat in a salon for forty-five minutes and shelled out something in the range of fifteen dollars.


So I do my own manicures.

But seeing as these days I have to schedule them during baby-naps that are long enough for polishing and drying (and nap length is unpredictable to say the least, which means you may end up stuck with wet nails and a desperate-to-be-picked-up baby, which is terribly not fun), said manicures have been few and far between lately. I’ve been toying with the idea of trying an in-salon gel manicure (recommended by my mom and everyone else on the planet) if only so that I can get it done and forget about my hands for a couple of weeks. But still: babies and nail salons don’t really mix.

The SensatioNail Starter Kit (approx. $50, available at WalMart) lets you do a gel manicure at home: it comes with an LED light box, all the gel-type potions, and that red color pictured above, enough for about 12 applications. It was sort of a pain to apply – it took about 25 minutes, start to finish, and all the different steps required more concentration than I’m used to allocating to my nails – but it was dry immediately after the final LED dosing, and has thus far survived an entire week of busier-than-usual activity (including wrapping presents, tons of cooking, picking tape off of gift boxes…stuff like that) with not a single chip. Which is thrilling.

The pros are obvious, but here are some cons:

1) Not everyone is going to like that red shade that comes with the starter kit (I kind of wish that the kit came with a pale pink shade, but I get that red is the best way to drive home the no-chip point). 12 different colors are sold separately, though, so you can pick up another shade at extra cost if the red isn’t for you.

2) I’m sort of dreading getting this stuff off. You have to soak your nails in acetone for fifteen minutes…so if you want to reapply the color again at that point, you’re talking about a time commitment of at least forty minutes.

3) If you don’t have a steady hand, you’re going to end up with a disastrous polish job that lasts (and lasts…and lasts). So unless you go for a very pale shade, this process is for the dextrous only.

Overall, though, I’m a fan. Recommended.

Product sample provided for review.

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