The At Home Manicure
Let’s just throwback to three months ago shall we? I was just finishing university, spending the very last few pennies of my loan on soups and noodles (and not to mention countless bottles of coke to get me through long library days and dissertation stress) and day dreaming about my holiday to Gran Canaria which wasn’t too far away.
Like always, I completely dislodged all the important things out of my brain (you know, like getting a degree) to focus on all the pre-holiday prep I needed to do. Make sure I have enough bikinis, a bucketload of after-sun with three more bucket loads of sun cream and that all important holiday manicure. Priorities, right?! The thing is, there was no way I could afford to book myself into a salon and alongside that, with deadlines looming, there simply wasn’t the time to spend an hour or so sitting absent mindlessly in a salon where all I would probably think about is the pretty colours.
Instead, I started researching into at home kits that allowed me to gel nails myself. I wasn’t expecting perfection or anything completely salon worthy, after all, there is a reason why salons exist and professionals train, I just wanted a kit or polish that was going to last me a little longer than your bog standard one.
Introducing, the Sensational Express Gel Kit. You’ve probably heard of Sensational before, alongside their Express range, they have their original gel range, packed to the brim with products to create a gel manicure including prep and finish. The Express Gel Kit is designed to take away all the hassle and fuss of a typical gel mani and allow you to simply paint on the polish, cure and go with no top coat or base coat needed. It sounded right up my street and just what I needed so in my Boots virtual bag it went.
Priced at £34.99, this is one of the more affordable gel kits you can buy on the high street and I actually think this is pretty purse friendly. In your kit, you get the LED Lamp (which is a really lovely petite size – great for storing!), a USB lead (meaning you can do your nails and watch Netflix really easily at the same time), a mains adapter, mini nail file, mini cuticle stick and the 10ml Express Colour. I picked the kit with a beautiful milky pink shade – Make Him Blush which I just love. But since buying the kit I’ve also purchased two more colours – a staple, everyone-needs-one-in-their-collection black (Black Sheep) and also a white shade (Not my Nan’s Pearls – pictured). There are so many more shades in the range that I’ve got my eye on, including some beautiful glitters! The shade range is really impressive and you can find all the typical nail shades in there meaning there is something for every occasion.
With some normal polishes, the difference between pastel shades and dark shades isn’t typically just the colour, the formula can be completely different as well, light colours tend to be streaky and sometimes difficult to work with. But thankfully, I’ve noticed no difference in formula, texture or finish with any of these shades – which is amazing, I can safely pick a colour and know that I don’t have to spend too long messing around with it to make it look ok.
As for the actual polish, first thing first, this is SO quick and easy. The whole process is quite simply a case of prepping your nails (wiping with polish remover, buffing etc), painting and curing. It takes me less time to do this as opposed to normal polish where I feel as if I’m spending a lifetime simply waiting for my first layer to dry. As soon as you’ve finished your 30 second cure, your polish is dry and ready for another coat. For all three polishes I own, three coats is more than enough and by that point, they look perfectly opaque. If you were really in a rush, Black Sheep could definitely get away with just two coats but I always go for the third just for that plump finish gels are known for.
As for the finish, it doesn’t perfectly match the “I’ve just got my nails done” salon look, for example, they are not that plump and are not overly shiny but I definitely do notice a difference between my normal polishes and these gel ones, which is pretty impressive considering this is the polish alone and not the power of a top coat.
With a gel manicure, you are looking at your manicure lasting around two to three weeks looking almost just as impressive as when you walked out of the salon. Whenever you do a Google search for this kit, the number one complaint you’ll see is about the lasting power with some stating that it starts to chip almost immediately. I personally haven’t noticed that happening often unless I’ve done a shoddy job at applying the polish. I’ve found that if I follow the instructions accordingly; prep before applying and applying thin coats, I find that my manicure lasts anywhere from one week to around ten days which let’s be honest, is such a huge improvement from your typical polish. It may not last as long as a salon manicure, but from a kit that is costing you £35, I really cannot complain. This kit offers multiple, ongoing uses whereas that price will typically get you one manicure in a salon. Straight from the offset, this kit offers you a pretty great price per wear, at £35 you can get unlimited use (not including the cost of the polishes) which is a really great deal.
All-in-all, I am really impressed with this kit and the Express range. I think how much you enjoy this all comes down to your expectations, I never expected the full salon look, simply because this kit doesn’t offer you all the tools or expertise required. This allows you to do a quick, easy manicure that typically lasts longer and looks nicer than your typically polish. I think because of this, I really like this kit and has served me well when I really want my polish to last but can’t afford a full salon manicure. If you like the look of this kit but want more a ‘gel’ experience I guess, Sensationail does offer a full gel kit, though I can’t offer any review on that because I haven’t personally used it but the Express Kit is perfect for what I use it for!
Have you tried any at home Gel nails?
Thank you for reading!