The subject of today's post is a topic that is near and dear to my heart- gel nails. Before gel nails came on the scene, I would either use silk wrap or acrylic on my nails, both of which are incredibly damaging, so that I wouldn't have to worry about a broken nail or chipping nail polish. Gel polish however, completely revolutionized manicures as we know it. It offered a beautiful, long-lasting manicure without sacrificing the health of the nail plate and actually helped protect the nails so that they could grow longer. What was even better than salon gel manicures, was the gel manicure anyone could do at home. Red Carpet Manicure has recently come to beauty supply stores such as Ulta (where I bought mine) and Sally's. I've even seen them at some of the larger Duane Reade drugstores. I think that what the company offers is a wonderful and versatile line of products that are affordable, and very well worth the price. So let's have a look.
First up is the LED gel polish curing machines. They offer a portable one, priced at $19.99 which takes three minutes to cure the polish. They also offer a larger one, which I've dubbed "the amphitheater" which, compared to other gel polish curing machines, is extremely small, light weight and portable by any standards. It will run you about $49.99 and cures polish in 45 seconds. This is the one I have and it looks like this:
The next product is the gel polish base, Structure. It is a clear polish that is quite thick, making it more difficult to apply. It also has a very strong, odd smell, kind of like vinegar or salad dressing :P ! You can see from the picture below just how thick in consistency the base is.
What is wonderful about Red Carpet Manicure is that they have a HUGE selection of gel polish colors to choose from. While the colors are mostly classics (pinks, nudes, darks, reds), they do have a small selection of more fashion-forward colors such as glitter top coats as well as a variety of finishes (jellies, frosts, glitters, metallics, cremes). I picked up two shades- a light, sheer pink and the black. Both are extremely sheer- after 3 coats, the black is still a see-through jelly. Both are of a standard consistency and are extremely easy to work with. However, there are colors in the line that are completely opaque, just not the colors I happen to pick up. Though the bottles are small, they cost about $9.99 a piece but again, are well worth it.
The next product is their topcoat/sealant, Brilliance. I expected this one to be thick and harder to work with like Structure, but it was not. Brilliance is actually on the runnier side so I had to be very careful about cuticle flooding. However, after curing, it left a hard, extremely shiny finish that I was happy with. Neither the actually gel colors or brilliance have the strange smell that Structure has.
So, now that I've reviewed the products that the company has to offer, I'll go over how I use it. First, I do a standard manicure (shaping the nails, a light buff, pushing back and moisturizing the cuticles, clipping back hangnails). Then I'll prep the nail with nail polish remover to get rid of any cuticle oil or cream residue. The company offers a bottle of "Prep", but I find that it is not a crucial step that affects the longevity of my manicure. I then apply a think coat of Structure and cure in the amphitheater for 45 seconds.
|Creepy hand in UV light picture!|
I then apply 2 coats of gel color curing each coat for 45 seconds. I sometimes will not apply any color and will just apply Brilliance (more on this below), which I cure for 45 seconds. After applying topcoat, the last step is to apply 'Purify" which is used to cleanse the nail and remove all of the tacky residue. While I do have this product, I often use pure acetone as it works just as well and is a more cost-effective option. I also hear some ladies use 90% Rubbing Alcohol and swear by that too. Either way, by this last step, my nails are smooth and shiny.
As I mentioned above, sometimes I'll just use the base coat and the top coat with no color in between. This way, I can use any polish I want over the top and not have to worry about chipping and I am not limited to using just gel colors. I know others who sandwich a gel base, a normal polish, then gel top coat in between. With nail polish, I'm a commitment-phobe so I prefer to not get locked into a single color! :D
|This is what my nails look like after I cure the base+top coat |
|Deborah Lippmann Lady Sings the Blues|
What do you think of gel manicures? Have you ever done it at a salon or have you done it yourself at home?