Occasionally, you come across one of those items that is both fabulously exciting AND virtually guaranteed to save you money. These finds are most certainly of the sublime variety and today I’m serving one up to you, sweet readers: the DIY at home gel nail polish kit.
DIY gel nail polish kits have been slowly seeping their way into being readily available in the Australian market over the last year or so, but buying colours off-the-shelf remains difficult. For those not familiar with the technology, gel nail polish (by nature if not by name… shellac falls into this category) is basically a blend of UV-cured and regular nail polish that sets under an ultra violet light to form a hard, glossy, fabulous finish that’s completely dry, lasts up to two weeks (even more on your toes!) and DOESN’T CHIP. *gasp!*
Your local mani-pedi place has been offering this service for a while, likely with a +$20 per set fee, bringing your gel mani-pedi to a rock hard price of between $60 and $100. However now you can have a full setup at home, for the price of around 40 salon nails (two-ish mani-pedi’s… $160).
How does this black magic work?
Essentially it’s paint and set, baby. Each nail is painted, like normal, with a (clear) base coat then set under the UV lamp. Next, a coat of colour then under the UV lamp. Repeat colour coat + UV lamp for richer colour or more coverage. Then top coat… and you guessed it… set under the uv lamp!
Getting my UV set on!
Nails can be a bit tacky afterwards, so most packs will include an alcohol based spray that can be used with a makeup wipe to remove any residue. Then voila! Glorious, glossy gel nails!
Terrific tips for perfect paws: There are a few tricks. To save the trial and error, I’ll give them to you straight.
- Very lightly buff your nail and wipe your nails prior to starting.
- Be very careful to paint only on your nail, not the cuticle or the sides of your nails. As the polish sets in one piece, any coat that lands outside the nail bed becomes a spot likely to lift and ruin your mani early. Your kit will likely come with a little stick like this one (Pic) to wipe off any polish prior to putting your paws under the light.
- Avoid thick coats – the polish may not set in the time allotted by your lamp and is more likely to peel!
- When setting your coats under the lamp, take four fingers of one hand and the thumb of the other. Fingers and thumb of the same hand won’t sit properly under the UV light.
- Never everrrrr peel off your colour. Resist, my pretties, or your nail bed will peril!! Gel polish comes off when soaked in an acetone based remover. Kits are readily available, but essentially you can put your regular acetone-based remover on a cotton ball and secure it to your nail (with alfoil/tape/mini bandage) for 10-15 mins, then the polish will lift off in one or more pieces. Alternatively, you can put some cotton balls soaked in your acetone-based remover into a small bowl and rest your nails on them for removal. Or, my new fast track method… try this: The acetone is obviously a downside to this shebang. Remember to treat your cuticles to some cuticle-oily goodness to make up for the madness.
- The other downside is that the UV lamp is essentially a teeny, tiny, barbie-sized tanning bed. Allegedly “studies” have shown that the risk is of cancer is equally teeny, tiny – but not risk free. To protect yourself, don a pair of these stylish mitts or use sunscreen.
Gimme, gimme, where do I get one?
- This blogger procured Sephora’s OPI gelshine kit but rumour has it it’s likely to be discontinued. I’ve used Sephora’s gelshine colours with it, OPI Gel Color colours and the odd shellac colour in between OPI base and top coats. I believe you’re pretty right to mismatch your polish brand with lamp brand, but probs best sticking to the same brand of colour and top and base coats.
- Priceline are stocking the OPALLAC starter kit for $99, it’s receiving great reviews so far:
- Beware any lamps that only fit one finger! They are out there, but it will obviously take you seventeen hours to do your nails.
- Lots of brand-new gel polishes are available via eBay. I’ve had success via that medium, they usually ship out of the USA.
- Last but most of all… the messiah of all things gel nails is gel-nails.com. They stock squillions of brands, gazillions of colours and ship to Australia in as little as 10 days! (Remember you may need a US to AUS power adaptor to get your lamp working.) Be careful if choosing a LED lamp that isn’t necessarily a UV lamp. A UV lamp will set all gel polishes, but an LED lamp will only set LED-compatible polishes
The upshot: gel’s the future and the future is now! A purchase of an at-home kit will likely prove to be an addictive product for those who like classy claws. Meeeeow!
What’s your experience with gel polish? Have a favourite brand or colour? Tell us below!