I’ll prefix this post with a bit of a disclaimer: I’m not very good at painting my nails. I don’t have steady hands and I can very quickly lose the will to live with it. Therefore, any painted nails you see won’t be all that great thanks to my poor skill.
I’m also very good at smudging and chipping nails. Instantly. I have been known to paint my nails properly (we’re talking, base coats and top coats and everything) and find a chip a couple of hours later. Gel nails were the perfect solution for me, but I refuse to pay a fortune to have my nails done every couple of weeks. I then discovered the Sensationail system by Nailene. It promises up to two weeks of chip-free gel. Sounds pretty good, huh? After mulling over it I took the plunge and bought it. It’s not cheap, but for those of you that have regular gel manicures it’ll work out more economical after two months, tops.
So onto the kit. To do the nails you get the following:
- LED lamp
- Nail primer
- Base/top coat
- One colour
- Gel cleanser
- Cleansing wipes
- Orange stick
Depending on the starter kit you get you’ll either get just the above, or all that plus another colour and a gel nail remover tool.
So what do you do to create your own gel nails?
It’s quite straightforward really.
- Prime the nails. File, buff, push cuticles back etc and then paint a layer of gel primer. This is the only thing you have to leave to dry naturally.
- Apply a thin layer of the clear base/top coat and put under the lamp for 30 seconds (it stays on for 1 minute, but bleeps after 30 seconds for ease of use).
- Apply one coat of your colour of choice and put under the lamp for one minute.
- Then apply a second coat and put under the lamp for another minute.
- Paint on another coat of the base/top coat and put under the lamp for a final 30 seconds.
- Using the lint free cloth and gel cleanser, rid your nails of any stickyness.
So! Pretty easy eh?
I guess it would be fair to start with the cons of this product.
You have to be quick.
The gel actually shrinks while it’s on your nail and so the longer you spend painting the nails before you put them under the lamp, the more likely it is that your mani will get smaller.
It can be time consuming.
Despite the first con, this won’t be a quick mani. My nails will take between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on how careful I am. But when I weigh that up verses a ‘proper’ traditional nail varnish manicure, it’s probably about even.
It’s tricky on short nails.
For me, this is the same whether it’s gel or just regular varnish but the key to making the gel last longer is to ‘cap’ the end of the nail with the gel during each layer and if your nails are short, this is impossible.
Clean up can be difficult.
I have to be on the ball with wiping the cuticles I’ve accidentally painted before I put the nail under the light otherwise at the end of the mani I’ll have to use the cuticle trimmer to basically cut away the dried bits of gel that shouldn’t be there. This is only an issue if you’re messy like I am, but it’s not necessarily too much of a problem.
I have pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel on the con front, as really there’s not that many. Now onto the pros:
It’s super shiny.
Like crazy shiny. Shiny I’ve never seen before with nail polish. ‘But of course it’s shiny, it’s gel!’ I hear you cry, but actually I’ve tried other at-home gel kits (Nutranail being the most recent) that had nowhere near the level of shine.
It doesn’t chip.
Even I can make this mani last.
You can use your own colours.
Favourite colour is one you can’t get in the gel range? You simply do the gel base coat, then your own colour nail varnish, then seal it with the top coat (after a coat of gel primer) and voila! A million more colours just opened up to you.
You can use a base such to protect your nails.
Painting nails is never good for them, and gel is no exception. But as I discovered recently you can put a base of something nice, such as OPI’s Nail Envy (which I swear by) and then do your gel mani in full on top, meaning when you remove the gel, your nails are in much better shape than they would normally be. The trick really is to ensure that you still use the gel primer to create that tacky surface on which to paint.
Once you finish painting, you’re 10 seconds away from being able to touch stuff.
None of this ‘I can’t answer the phone because I’ve got wet nails’ malarky. As soon as you finish the last LED lamp session all you do is wipe your nails with the gel cleanser and that’s it, done! You’re free to carry on with your day instantly!
Apologies for the quite lengthy post, but I guess I had a lot to say about this! I’ve owned this now for over a year and still use it regularly. It’s definitely been worth the money for me and I may have accidentally encouraged a few friends to buy it too over the past year… oops.
Do you have a Sensationail? What do you think?