There are a lot of photos in this review, so this post is a little picture-heavy!
Since some gel polishes need UV lights to set the polish or dry, I was a bit worried that I would end up with a bulky light to store. But the whole SensatioNail package is pretty small! I was surprised that they fit everything you need for 10 complete manicures inside, including the LED lamp.
Here is everything inside the box:
- LED lamp with electrical adapter (no batteries!)
- Gel cleanser
- Gel primer
- Gel nail color (Raspberry Wine in this kit)
- Gel base & top coat
- Lint-free wipes
- Double-sided nail buffer
- Manicure stick
- Instruction pamphlet
- Card with application and removal methods
Here's a closeup of the products right out of the box. There are only four bottles, so it's not a confusing system at all. Here's how it works:
- Prep your nails with the gel cleaner and a lint-free wipe
- Apply the gel primer and allow to air dry
- Apply the gel base & top coat and cure it under the LED lamp for 30 seconds
- Apply one coat of color. Cure for 60 seconds.
- Apply second coat of color. Cure for 60 seconds.
- Apply the gel base & top coat again as your top coat. Cure for 30 seconds.
- Remove excess moisture with the gel cleanser and lint-free wipe.
And you're done! It really doesn't take a long time since the curing is only 30 seconds for base coat and top coat, and 60 seconds for the color. You don't even have to time it - the lamp will beep at 30 seconds, and shut itself off after 60.
Here is the color right after applying and following the above instructions. I had never used a gel system before, and it was a lot easier to do than I thought it would be. This color, Raspberry Wine, is a jelly. I used two coats, and it's a lovely pinkish-red shade. It appears a tiny bit deeper in person.
You can see I got a little bit outside of my normal boundaries, around the skin and almost to the cuticle. You cannot clean this polish up with acetone like you normally might! So my advice is to work slowly. Paint one nail at a time, and wipe off the excess polish on your skin with the manicure stick. Once it cures under the light, it isn't going anywhere!
Other than working slowly, there isn't much else to it. You have to make sure to wrap your tips with each step, but that's it! I worked fairly slowly since it was my first time doing gel nails, and it probably took me half an hour to do. Since you get 10 manicures out of just the starter kit, I'm sure you'll get the hang of it and will be able to work faster.
I also think this kit is worth it because of how long it lasts. The packaging suggests that your manicure will last up to 2 weeks. I tested it for 10 days, and here's what my nails looked like after those 10 days!
They look about the same as right after I applied it, right? I am very impressed with this product and how well it lasted! And I'm not very easy on my nails - I was washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom and just doing everything I could to put them to the test.
The main difference between the before and after photos is my ring finger nail. I actually broke part of the corner off, and had to file it down a little. When it broke, it took a tiny part of the gel with it. That was the only chip I got, but it was due to me breaking my nail! It happened at the beginning of my trial, so I touched it up easily. I just put a bit of color on the tip where it was missing, and cured it. I didn't do the other steps since it was such a small area.
You can barely see where I touched it up too. It blended so nicely! But the rest is honestly the same polish that was one the entire 10 days. I am stunned that it lasted this long. I always do my own nails and never get professional manicures done, so I love this! I will definitely be using this more often.
As for removal, there are a couple methods. The first method mentioned on the card below is the foil method. However, it says to use a SensatioNail removal tool, which the kit does not include. If you wish to get the tool, it's only about $4 more. I opted to try the soak-off method though.
I didn't get photos of my actual removal since I was afraid of putting my camera too close to acetone! It says to first buff the surface of the nail to break the seal of the top coat. Then soak nails in acetone for 15 minutes, and gently push the remaining gel off of the nails with a manicure stick.
For my acetone soak, I used this Kiss acetone nail polish remover jar. It has plastic brushes inside to help remove normal polish or glitter polish, but those don't help too much here. I just used it for soaking my nails in for 15 minutes. You can use whatever container you like though, just try to use 100% acetone so it's strong enough. I would recommend a glass container or bowl. SensatioNail also suggests pouring acetone into a glass bowl, and then putting that bowl into a larger bowl of hot water for quicker removal.
I also covered the acetone jar and my hand with a small towel. This helped keep my hand warm, and it also helped keep the smell of the acetone in there. That way I wasn't breathing it in for 15 minutes or longer! As for a tool to help remove the remaining gel polish, I used my Tweezerman Pushy. You could use the wooden manicure stick that comes in the starter kit, but I prefer to use a stronger stainless steel tool. Since the Pushy has two ends, I used the rounded end to help push off the remaining polish so I couldn't damage my nails with the sharper end.
As for how my nails fared, they did excellent! I was afraid of the harsh removal damaging my nails. As long as you don't scrape off the remaining gel polish too hard, you should be fine. Just be patient with it so you don't ruin your nails! Removal also probably took 30 - 45 minutes. Like I said, this is my first experience with gel polish, so I was going pretty slowly with every step too.
My bottom line: I would definitely recommend this product. They have a wide array of colors to choose from, and they certainly last as long as they promise! It said my manicure should last up to 2 weeks, and while I only did 10 days, it really could have kept on going. The color looked great, my nails felt really smooth, and they looked super glossy the entire time.
Where to buy it: I've seen the kit in local pharmacies such at CVS. The kit retails for about $40 - $50 depending on your store, but the SensatioNail Facebook page currently has a $5 off coupon for the starter kit, as well as a $1 off another color coupon. If you buy from a store like CVS, you can also use ExtraBucks on your purchase.
Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes. The kit is about $40 - $50 and comes with one color to get you going. You get 10 uses out of this kit alone. That's not even $5 per manicure! For nails that look professional and last this long, I definitely think it's worth it. You would probably spend $20 for nails like this at a salon, and that's not even counting a tip! Then once you have the kit, other colors are about $9 for 10 more manicures. I think the kit is an investment that's worthwhile.
I will definitely be trying out more colors. They'll be perfect for week long or longer vacations too!
Some products purchased by me. Some products sent for consideration. All opinions are my own.