A few weeks ago I purchased the supplies to do gel/shellac manicures at home (grand total: $94), and as promised, here is my review!
To put the bottom line at the top: they’re way better than regular at-home manicures, not as good as salon gel/shellac manicures.
I purchased my supplies through Amazon:
UV/LED Nail Lamp
($43.99, I picked this one because the reviews were amazing for the price)
Vishine Base Coat and No-Wipe Top Coat
($13.99, These are a must for a gel manicure; these particular bottles are tiny but have lasted us 8 manis so far and aren’t close to running out)
Vishine Soak Off UV/LED Gel Nail Polish
($35.99, They have a huge number of colours to choose from; you get 6 of your choice so I went with a red, bright pink, light pink, grey, beige and purple for a variety. The photo above only shows a fraction of the colours available.)
Between the two girls and myself, we’ve done eight manicures in total now with the $94 kit (so we’ve already made our money back a couple of times over compared to the usual $35 salon service; not that my daughters go for professional manicures but I do fairly often), and here are some observations:
- You always have to start with a base coat.
- Thin layers of colour are a must – better three thin layers than two thick ones when it comes to setting under the light.
- The top coat is what really makes the manicure. After the colour coats, nails still feel a bit tacky. This top coat lives up to its “no wipe” promise as it’s completely hard, smooth and shiny when done – definitely a salon finish.
- The light has different time settings: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 120 seconds low heat. We experimented with different combinations and found that doing 60 seconds for each coat (just like they do at my salon) gave just as good a finish as doing it for longer (whether multiple 60s or the 120 low, or 60 plus 120 low) which is good to know as a time-saver! I also like how the light comes on automatically when your hand goes in.
I have been extremely impressed with the finished look every single time – it really does look exactly like the professional version. The difference is the longevity. I’ve had salon shellac manicures last 3 full weeks without a chip (the regrowth of nail at the bottom becomes an issue before any chipping or peeling). With this system, we’ve experienced a chip as early as day one (I did use my nails to pry the case off Eva’s iPad so my bad), but my most recent manicure has lasted 6 full days and still not one issue. I think there’s also an element of human error so it makes sense that as I’m learning to apply it better, it’s lasting longer. The bonus of having the supplies yourself is that even if you do get a chip, you have everything you need to fix it.
I also like being able to do my nails at home instead of making an appointment, driving to and from, and spending that time in the salon. Time is worth money too. (And I will admit I like to sit in front of Netflix while I follow the process at my kitchen counter.)
I’ve never had to use any remover with this polish – when it’s ready to go, the colour just peels off easily in one piece. (I’m not saying you’re supposed to do it that way – but what’s what I’ve been doing!)
Another random note: while it’s a fantastic idea to put sunscreen on your hands before they go under a light like this one, you can’t have ANYTHING right on your nails or the product will not adhere properly and will bubble and look very unappealing. One of us learned this the hard way.
The bottom line is that while the manicures don’t last as long as the salon ones, I’m still really glad I made this purchase and I know we will continue to use it regularly.
Feel free to ask if you have any questions that I haven’t answered here!