I absolutely love this kit! As a makeup and beauty junkie on a pretty strict budget, it's hard to justify certain purchases, especially an actual salon manicure. And for some reason, where I live gel manicures are outrageously priced compared to traditional ones. Hence, I would only get real manicures for special occasions or for a vacation.
Well fast forward to several years of rarely, if ever, getting a manicure and being pretty bummed about it, and a friend who has this kit offers to do my nails AND all of my bridesmaids' nails for my wedding! Since half my bridal party was family and I didn't want to make them spend more money I jumped on the chance immediately. She did my nails in the pink chiffon color, and we did a French mani on all the girls. They girls had some chipping, but that seems to be pretty common with the stick-on white tips in any brand. It wasn't too bad, honestly. My nails lasted great all the way through the wedding and into my honeymoon. I did have some chipping towards the end of the trip, but I think that was unusual simply because of all the crazy activities we did. (I usually don't judge a nail polish by how well it holds up through snorkeling and climbing waterfalls!) On a regular basis, I definitely get 2 weeks of wear out of it, and I have been wearing these manis at work at a coffee shop and as a piano teacher, so my hands take quite a beating.
I give it 5/5 for price in a heart beat. The whole kit costs about $60 where I live, but I often see it on sale or with a coupon for about $40. My husband bought me the kit as a birthday present after I so kindly told him to ask the friend who originally had the kit. ;)
Even at $60, this will pay for itself in 2 manicures ($30+ or so plus tip).
A tip for the budget savvy though, replace as you go on your products, and don't buy the "brand name" stuff. The gel cleanser is just rubbing alcohol. Seriously. Buy yourself a $.95 huge bottle of it and it will last you forever instead of that half an ounce of "cleanser" that they sell you. Even the salons just use rubbing alcohol.
Also, the "base and top coat" formula is the EXACT same as their clear coat color. So buy a big bottle of clear polish, or wait until another brand has theirs on sale. Just make sure it's compatible with the LED light. A few of them out there are specifically for UV gel lights.
I have yet to run out of primer, so I'm not sure how I would go about replacing it. I've tried manis with and without it, and to be honest I may just not worry about it once I officially run out.
Some girls have mentioned disappointment over color selection. The Sensationail brand doesn't have a ton of variety, but what they do have is very pretty. I have the pink chiffon that I got for my wedding, a tangerine-y color and a pretty turquoise, but they're all pretty summery colors. Walgreens will have them on sale sometimes, so I just wait until then and stock up (BOGO sales are pretty common. The sales staff at my Walgreens probably thinks I'm crazy because I stop there on my way home from work, walk straight to the nail care aisle, check the sales and walk out about 2 times a week, waiting for sales!)
I have mixed brands with awesome results. My first attempt was with a Sally Hansen gel color in Ruby Do, and it's gorgeous! A really deep wine color that is beautiful for fall and winter. I noticed absolutely no difference in the wear between the two formulas. You also get much more polish in the separate bottles. I'm not sure why they give you such a tiny bottle of color in the starter kit.
I just picked up an ASP (All Season Professional) polish from Sally's yesterday. The sales staff there said this brand works with both UV and LED lamps, since this one didn't specify. I picked up the color Black Beauty. I'd been wanting for the Sally Hansen brand to go on sale to get their Pat On The Black, which is a beautiful burgundy-glossy-black-ish color, but I couldn't justify their $11-13 price tag. The ASP was $7.99 I believe with my Sally card, $8.99 regular. I did my mani yesterday afternoon, and it's been doing well so far (one day is hard to tell). This color is a traditional glossy black with no other undertones in it. At first I was afraid it was going to seem too "jr. high, Avril Lavigne, chipped black nails and heavy eyeliner-ish" but done with a real manicure on well-kept nails it looks great! It's surprising that the Sharpie manicure never caught on after those years. ;)
Long story short, be frugal on your refills, but splurge on the good stuff to get yourself started. You don't get the salon experience, but pour yourself some wine and do a manicure with a friend and it's just as much fun. Well worth the price for regular manicures.
Mix and match brands and the possibilities of colors are endless!
I will not repurchase unless my light breaks. I have no need to buy the whole kit again, just refilling certain parts one at a time.