Within the last few years a rash of at home gel nail polish kits have come onto the market, some better than others. I have dabbled with these on and off and appreciated the benefits of having an at home gel nail kit, the fact I can do it without leaving the house, the cost involved is a lot less and choice of shades which my case is practically endless due to my nail polish addiction.
With the know how you can really get excellent value and good tips to really get the best out the set you have. Today I am going to review 3 of my favourite at home gel kits and their pro’s and con’s and other handy useful tips to help you decide if you want to invest in one mentioned or another system.
Red Carpet Manicure Gel Manicure Kit
My first kit I tried was the Red Carpet Manicure kit, which will set you back around the £100 mark depending on if you pick a more comprehensive kit. The basic kit costs £89.99 and includes all the various steps for the entire process.
This includes gel cleanser, nail prep to dehydrate the nail, gel base coat, the gel polish colour, top coat, cuticle oil, gel remover solution, foil pads, nail tool kit for removal, along with the LED lamp to cure the polish.
The polishes will set you back around £14 a polish and the essential kit and removal kits will cost around £17. From all the costs involved upfront, it is significantly cheaper per manicure to buy all the different kits and do your manicure at home.
I know the initial expense seems a lot compared to a basic manicure, but the results do out weigh the cost in my opinion.
Application was easy enough, using purify solution and prep coat to dehydrate the nail followed by base coat cured under the lamp. Another 2 coats of gel colour and cured as directed after each coat, topped off with top coat and then the last cure followed with the purify solution swiped across the nails and my nail look was complete. Then a little cuticle oil to replenish the nails.
Altogether once I got the hang application it took me around 40 minutes for the entire process. I like this kit a lot and think it is an excellent place to start with at home gel manicures. It has everything you need and you definately don’t need to be a nail technician to do this at home.
SensatioNail Gel Manicure Starter Kit
Another kit I liked a lot was the SensatioNail starter kit which is the cheapest of the three kits at £70.
The kit includes similar products to the Red Carpet Manicure gel kit and has the same type method of application with base and top coat, gel colour along with the gel cleanser, gel primer and curing your nails with the SensatioNail lamp.
The kit offers 10 full manicures depending on the length of your nails with 2 weeks wear from each manicure.
To remove the gel manicure you need the removal tool, foil wraps and gel polish remover which altogether cost £21 and are sold separately from the starter kit.
The essentials kit to top up your most used items is £25 and gel colour polishes are £15 each. So although it is the cheapest kit to start with, by the time you are finished buying all the things you need it is as expensive as the others.
Overall the wear of the polish was quite good and the polish shades were very pretty and application process was straight forward with a detailed pamphlet with all the instructions. I could not complain, the kit is great and another widely available option from Boots with added boots advantage card points, a handy bonus!
Ciate Geltox Starter Kit
Steep I know for a starter kit, but I feel it is the most versatile of all of kits featured in this post.
With this set you use your own base and colour polish, allow to dry properly and then cure the top coat with the lamp to give the gel finish to the polish.
This kit offers the most flexibility with colour and finish and allows you to use all your shades in your collection to create your own gel polish look.
The removal kit used with the Geltox system is aptly named Geltox Detox and costs £25. This kit includes Geltox Detox Removal Solution, 2 Nail Wraps, Geltox Detox Serum, a Nail File, Hoof Stick and a four-way nail buffer to detox nails in just 10 minutes.
The other product you might need to replace more often would be the Top coat which is priced at £29.00. It’s pricey but I guess with using other branded products for base and colour application, you could save money in the long run.
The kit works well and is ingenious with it incorporation of normal polish and offers so much more freedom when it comes to colour. The durability of the polish was good too, although I felt with an extra top coat and cure lasted even longer, although comparing the brands the Red Carpet gel manicure lasted the longest with nearing 3 weeks wear and the SensatioNail and Ciate Geltox roughly 2 and a bit weeks.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR AT HOME GEL MANICURES
A few tips and suggestions I would give would be to ensure you do thin coats of colour polish, putting small amounts of polish on the brush to avoid pooling around the cuticle. The whole less is more approach is very important with colour application.
Another tip would be capping the free edge on the top of your nail on every coat to prevent damage to the gel nail and to make your manicure last.
For the prep stage, swap the gel cleanser for a non acetone nail polish remover, it will do the job of dehydrating the nail and removing tackiness at the end stage, a much more cost effective product to use for this purpose.
For the removal process, I would say making your own foil wraps, using tin foil and cotton pads, would be a lot cheaper in the long run and using pure acetone from a beauty supply store than buying the removal fluids which are recommended with the kits. The wraps in the Ciate kit were much easier to use, like cotton pads with bandage like tape. You could easily create something like this at home with sticky dressing tape and cotton pads.
The removers with these kits are around 95% acetone or more. Use pure acetone from a beauty supply store for this step, a much cheaper option. Aslong as you so use extra cuticle oil and moisturiser after using the pure acetone, it will not dehydrate your nails too much.
Also ensuring you really break down the surface of the gel nail surface, by filing and buffing it, will improve you chances of having a swift gel polish removal. This is because the acetone in the gel remover will not work properly unless it can penetrate all the layers of gel and polish.
Personally using the polish removal wraps at home is probably the trickiest step of diy gels, especially doing two hands at once.
I found using cling film over finger tips helps to keeps the foils in place and blowing a hair dryer on the metal foil tips on a low setting for a few minutes helped to speed up the removal process.
If you can get someone to help you pop the wraps on it makes the process alot simpler also!
WAYS OF GETTING THE BEST FROM YOUR KIT
You could customise how you use your gel kit to fit your needs for best results. All the LED lamp based products, from all the sets can be used in conjunction with one another, so don’t feel you need to stick to one brand.
Use the Red Carpet Manicure or SensatioNail set like the Ciate Geltox kit by using your own base coat and colour choices and cure the top coat as directed.
I have tried this and it works quite well, although I do feel on the whole building up the base coat and layers of colour in the gel formula gives more of an armour for your nails. It also enhances the longevity having those extra layers of polish, although takes longer to remove, so definitely a catch 22.
MY OPINION OF THESE KITS
For strength and armour, building up the gel is the way to go, so the Red Carpet Manicure set might be for you or the SensatioNail kit for more readily available shades and products.
For the easiest removal, the Ciate Geltox kit was far simpler and much quicker due to only one coat of gel polish.
The Ciate Geltox kit is my favourite of the 3 kits. For my own needs, it is perfect for my vast aray of polishes, the removal process is not as much hard work with one layer of gel, thus less damaging for the nails. Also using a quality base coat does not deteriorate the condition of the nail under the gel polish, so you can still keep strength and health in your nails unlike the other sets. A definite winner for me!
Which is your favourite gel nail system? Any tips and tricks to add?
Let me know in the comments.