As a busy mom who loves the look of fresh nail polish, but has neither the time for regular salon visits nor the time to invest in an at-home mani, I was very excited by the idea of a DIY gel manicure kit. So when Nailene offered me their SensatioNail Invincible Gel Polish Starter Kit to try, I jumped at the opportunity.
Yesterday, I tested the system – with gorgeous results. In less time than it typically takes for me to paint my nails and wait for them to dry, I gave myself a SensatioNail manicure and pedicure with mirror-like shine that promises to last 2 weeks with no chipping.
Granted, it’s only been two days, but my nails still look freshly polished. I’m particularly rough on my hands and my regular manis (self- and professional-) don’t make it very long unscathed. But so far, my SensatioNail mani has taken a lickin’ and kept on tickin’.
The process was super simple:
- Apply a few drops of the Gel Cleanser to one of the included Lint-free Wipes and wipe each nail.
- Paint each nail with the Gel Primer and let air dry (dry time is like 60-90 seconds, max).
- Apply a thin layer of the Gel Base & Top Coat and “cure” your nails under the LED Lamp for 30 seconds.
- Paint on a thin layer of SensatioNail Gel Polish and cure nails under the LED Lamp for 60 seconds.
- Repeat step 4.
- Seal in color by applying a thin layer of the Gel Base & Top Coat and put your nails under the LED Lamp for 30 seconds.
- Repeat step 1 and you’re done!
Here are some of the things I learned in the process:
- The Gel Base & Top Coat and the Gel Polish are a little deceiving in thickness. When they say to paint on a thin layer, they mean it. Applying too much can get gloppy – and it’s way easier to add more than to subtract.
- The LED Lamp is automatically timed, so no need to consult a watch when you’re curing your paint job. When 30 seconds is up, the lamp beeps. When a full 60 seconds is up, the lamp shuts off.
- When you paint on the Gel Base & Top Coat and the Gel Polish, it’s important to keep it off your skin and cuticles. Of course, mistakes happen – especially when painting with your non-dominant hand. But all you have to do is clean up any errant polish with the Wood manicure Stick. But do it before you cure it under the LED lamp. Otherwise, it’s there to stay.
- Initially, I was kind of disappointed in the opacity of the actual polish. One coat goes on pretty sheer, but not in a pretty and translucent kind of way. So more than one coat is necessary. I did my toes in a punchy red/orange called Tahiti Sunset, which required two coats. For my mani, I opted for Amber Lights, a shimmery nude – and that required three coats to achieve the look I wanted.
- Once I completed the entire 7-step process, it was hard to believe that my nails were “dry” and I was good to go. For the first 15 minutes or so, I caught myself delicately handling things and avoiding anything that might my mess up my nails. But then it occurred to me that I could open a can of Coke Zero, dig in my purse for one of the thousand thing hidden in there, or scratch a pesky mosquito bite – and nothing was going to jack up my handiwork.
- It was also nice that the products don’t have the strong smell of traditional polish. They do have an odor, but it was minor. So faint, in fact, that I did my nails in the same room as my son, as he took a nap. I never do that with regular nail polish. In fact, with regular polish, I usually do my nails on a different floor of my house – as not to poison my son (and annoy my husband) with the fumes.
All in all, I give SensatioNail two gel-polished thumbs up. My initial results weren’t exactly salon-quality, but it’s really my own fault. Next time, I’ll paint thinner layers and keep the polish further away from my cuticles. But otherwise, I’m extremely happy and I think practice will make perfect.
The SensatioNail Starter Kit ($60), comes with all of the tools you need to achieve salon-quality results – plus a mini bottle of polish, and provides about 10 gel manicures. Like SensatioNail on Facebook to get a coupon worth $5 off the kit!
If/when you run out of the Gel Cleanser, Primer, Base & Top Coat and other stuff, there’s an Essentials Kit you can buy for $24. Individual bottles of Gel Polish ($12) are available in 16 shades – and each bottle provides 25 manicures.
SensatioNail is sold at CVS, Walmart and drugstore.com. But I’d suggest that you stick with CVS. Their beauty guarantee promises that if you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, you can bring it back (even used) for a full refund – no questions asked.