Would I buy this again? YES!!! And buy it as a gift and give it away to all my nail friends too!
I have some of the worst nails In. The. World. No, really, they are that bad. And I always knew they didn't have to be (that bad) but nail products thus far were failing me and my poor, soft, bendy, peeling nails. One day, I wander into Shoppers and see this little package on the shelf. Yet another product offering false hope that I might actually get to have those beautiful nails I see offered up on nail blogs everywhere. Yah. Right. My bitter cynicism reared its ugly head and scoffed at the possibility of beautifully tipped digits. But I hauled out my phone and immediately began hunting for online reviews. Trusty MUA had umpteen positive reviews (wtf?!?! That never happens!) so I took a chance and splurged the $80. Hint - look for it online or wait for a sale if that is too many dollar signs for you, I hear they can be found much cheaper, most of the time. But I have no patience so I bought it then and there.
Off I went, watched every video, read every blog that referenced the things and read and re-read the instructions, because I am that kind of person. Seemed easy enough. Clean nails with alcohol, lightly rough up nail bed with included buffer. Put on primer, apply foundation coat, cure. Apply coat of color, cure, 2nd coat, cure, 3rd coat if desired, cure. Add top coat, cure. Make sure not to cure any on your skin. Good application does seem to be imperative here and thin coats are key. It is easy to do though assuming you can apply regular polish half decently and you don't have the risk of it drying on you and getting gross and streaky while you try to get a good application. Do make sure to clean all the excess off your cuticles before you stick your fingers in the lightbox and definitely don't let it pool into the corners, that stuff will peel off and ruin the whole thing very quickly.
The results: Every one of my now 3 manicures has lasted a week without problems. For comparison purposes, perfect application of regular polish lasts a maximum of 24 hours before the first chip will appear. I'm still perfecting the application technique too, but getting better each time. This stuff gives my nails some structural integrity so I actually have length and a nice shape to them. They no longer flare out at the tips but seem to be keeping a much nicer c curve.
The bad news: Removal is a right royal pain in the arse. I'm sure it takes longer than application. Google Chickettes removal blog post and video though because her information made it way easier than anything else I had tried thus far. Again, I'm getting better with this step and have done totally different things each time to see what works best. I find I usually have to lightly buff off the very last of the primer off my nails at the end though before re-applying the next round, not buffing the nail though, just getting rid of the gooey primer. I haven't tried the official sensationail removal foils because, well, I'm too cheap to pay that much for cotton balls and tin foil...
Bonus: I like that I can paint over the top coat with regular polish if I want to change things up without removing the gel. The regular polish lasts longer than on my natural nail because of the increased strength and reduced bending action of the nails.
Other bonus: You are not stuck just using sensationail gel colors. I've used the Shoppers house brand (Quo) gel colors which are made by Orly, they work fantastically well. I understand that Gelish will work also (I'm thinking I will hunt some down to try soon) and I'm sure others as well and then you can simply cure using the sensationail LED lamp.
Important note: I have seen a few people say their nails have been ruined by this. Some things to avoid said issue (mine are better than ever having used this stuff) - cuticle oil, lots off it, every day, under the free edge, slathered around the nail. Keep that cuticle healthy! Also, be careful with your removal, don't scrape or peel it off! Pure acetone should remove most/all of it and an orange stick should be all that's needed to "encourage" the last little bits to leave your nails. Also, cuticle oil.
Did I mention cuticle oil? Acetone is very drying, so you will probably need a lot of cuticle oil. More than you might plan for. I apply it 2-3 times per day and do not have a job that requires excessive hand washing, if you do, plan for more cuticle oil. And beautiful nails!
The thing I like about this is that the lamp is cheaper than other LED lamps, and that gel polish in general lasts longer on my nails than regular polish. I got the starter kit with Pink Chiffon, and the color is a nice light pink. I took one lippie off because it's so difficult to remove, especially when following the primer step. I did find that if you skip that step, the removal is slightly easier, using pure acetone and the foil method. The removal tool is a good investment as it does help to remove the polish. What I do like is that if I get bored with the color, I can use regular nail polish, and it still wears like gel, even chip happy brands like Essie.
Ho Lee Grail.
Let me start by saying I have the most AWFUL nails in the whole wide world. I am not kidding. My nail beds are FLAT. They are paper thin, brittle yet oily, rip, split and are full of ridges. As soon as my nail grows past my fingertip it curves upward on one side and downward on the other side. SO ATTRACTIVE. I also suck at painting my own nails. Polish would chip after a few hours. I've had acrylics before but they are damaging, would give me hot spots that HURT and always lifted because of the bed being so flat. Not to mention they're expensive. I gave up and just resolved to have crappy looking nails forever. Then recently I started reading about gel nail polish and how it's becoming more and more accessable and affordable to do it at home. SIGN ME UP. I was ready to go spend a mint at Sally's on gelish and a UV lamp when I saw blogs and reviews for this kit, so I got it at CVS instead, with a coupon, extra care bucks, the whole nine yards. My friends, the LED lamp is worth the cost of the kit alone. I still suck at painting my nails but I have to say, I'm getting better at it and my nails look pretty darn good. No chips, no dents, super shiny. Best invention ever. The nails were cut down to the quick before I painted them and they are almost to my fingertip now. We'll see how they do as they get longer and I'll update my review.
My only complain is the color selection. I love frosty colors and their frosts are either too dark or too light. I'm going to experiment with mixing colors since I don't have to worry about the polish drying out like traditional polish.
Removal is no big deal either. I do the cotton ball soaked with acetone wrapped with foil method. Polish slides right off. I also don't go crazy with the primer before I paint my nails and I think that helps later on with removal.
I bought the starter kit with the pink chiffon color and have since purchased and used 5 other colors. I am very impressed with this product! I was tired of regular nail polish chipping within 1-2 days so I wanted something to last longer. This gel manicure lasts me 2 full weeks and I only have to redo it because my nails grow out, not due to it chipping! The only con is that it is difficult to remove :( I feel it's worth it though to have a flawless manicure for two weeks! It still saves time not having to paint my nails every 2 days! I definitely recommend this product, it's exactly what I needed.
I purchased the shade Love Struck from Walmart for around $10. It is a bright pinkish red with no shimmer, very flattering to my NC20 skintone. It's supposed to be a creme, but because of the gel formula, it's not quite opaque with 2 coats and looks almost like a creme-jelly hybrid.
I did not use the complete Nailene Kit, only the nail color. I have a 36w professional UV nail dryer from Amazon. My gel cleanser, lint free wipes, nail tip primer and base/top coat are by Orly. The acetone I have is from CVS.
I didn't like the Nailene gel polish at first. I found it VERY difficult to apply compared to Orly gel colors. It slid around and didn't want to "stick" to the gel base. I wasn't sure if it was the polish formula or if that happened because I mixed brands. It was very thin and messy to apply, and because of the deep color, I found it hard to get it all off of the cuticle and surrounding skin using acetone. It was literally sliding off my nails onto my fingers. I do my own nails several times a week and I've gotten very neat/ careful with practice, so that was very frustrating to me.
I found that I had to apply *very* thin, translucent layers, clean all around the cuticle with acetone and my giant orange stick from Sallys, and then cure each layer before it slid off. It took about 3 layers of color and over an hour to do, but in the end it looks fantastic. It's smooth and shiny and has been chip free for a week now. I have just minimal wear at the tips of a few nails that is only visible way up close. The Orly gel color I have chips after several days, so it seems as though the Sensational is longer wearing. This is the only time in my life that nail polish has lasted so long on my (natural) nails. I am very impressed and I love the variety of colors that Nailene offers and how accessible and affordable they are. In that sense, I highly recommend this product.
However... I am an enthusiastic DIYer when it comes to all things beauty. I love taking the time to learn how to use professional techniques/ products at home.. even if it requires a good amount of money and patience. If you're like me, you will love this product. If you're only interested in at-home gel nails to save time or money, or if you're not that great at doing your own nails and don't have a ton of patience, I wouldn't recommend attempting gel nails at home. There's definitely a learning curve involved, the products are pricey, and it's a lot more time consuming than regular nail polish because of the way you have to apply it.
I got the starter set as a gift from a very generous friend and have in general been pleased with the results. It does take a while to put on, so I will generally only do it when I have a good block of time set aside. **Check the website,** they have a video with a lot of helpful tips about how to get good results with this set.
As for the polish, the wear has been impressive. I usually wear another (non-gel) polish over my gel manicure because I have nail ADD and want to change colors all of the time. The non-gel will wear like gel. Even chip-happy polishes like Butter are chip free when layered over a gel manicure. And removing the non-gel polish with nonacetone remover doesn't damage the gel manicure at all. It is still as perfect and glossy as when I put it on.
WTHBS, the removal is a pain and a half. The foil method isn't working for me, even with pure acetone. I do a lot of scraping and usually end up damaging my nails during removal. I bought nail soakers and am hoping that will help speed removal. So, it's a mixed bag. If I could find a way to remove it without damaging my nails, this would be a five star review.
Such a pain to remove!!!! The application takes for ever at least an hour and it takes for ever to remove them. They sometimes peel right off after only a few hours after application, so I was getting fed up with it. Can't recommend these. If you want gel nails that actually last, get gelish professionally done at a salon!
I have been paying out the nose to get no-chip manicures in the salon, which is why I am SO happy to have found this product! I polished my nails with this system almost two weeks ago and they are still chip-free and shiny. Relative to the cost of a manicure in the salon this system is cheap and the application is very easy. I haven't taken the polish off yet, but I am prepared for a lengthy removal process having had it done before. Overall, excellent -- I can't stop singing its praises!
I rarely post reviews for products, but this is hands down one of the best beauty products I have ever purchased.
My nails break very easily, won't grow long, and I have to use my hands a lot at work. Regular nail polish looks decent for about 2 or 3 days before I have to remove it.
The kit was not difficult to use. I am SO impressed with the results. The gel polish makes them thicker and smooth. They are shiny and the best part is that my nails looked perfect for a week! No more weak and breaking nails. After 9 days, I decided to remove the polish, and it took about 20 minutes to remove. Not as bad as I expected considering the reviews I read.
The downside for me is that the colors aren't as funky or vibrant as I like. I bought some Gelish colors and they work perfectly with the kit.
This product is a serious game changer and I only wish I would have discovered it sooner.
Amazing value for money! Whole kit for 60 pounds, 2 manicures in the salon.
Nails don't last the 2 full weeks on me, but still giving it 5 stars as regular nail polish barely lasts 2 days on me and I can get 10 days wear out of this!
Colour range available on the website is great too, love evening sand especially.
Love the packaging too. All-round great product!