All of you girls know how satisfying it is to put aside a few hours to catch up on your missed TV episodes and do your nails, especially after a super busy week. I’ve always enjoyed keeping my nails looking fresh and neat, as I personally feel like your nails can often be the cherry on the cake for any well put together outfit. I used to stick to normal nail varnish day to day, but before a holiday I have always treated myself to a full set of acrylics with gel! It usually comes to £25 for the acrylics and £30 with gel too (10% off with student discount) in my favourite local salon, so too pricey for to have regularly.
BUT EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED!!
This past Christmas my wonderful Mummy bought me a Sensationail Gel Starter Kit from Boots and I can now afford to have gel nails whenever I fancy them and as a student with very little money it has been a complete game changer.
I want to give you my review of this set and how having it has made my life easier and far cheaper when it comes to keeping my nails looking fab.
Inside the box:
- 3 Nail Varnishes: 1 white, 1 babydoll pink, 1 base & top coat
- Gel cleanser, gel primer & lint-free wipes
- Double-sided nail buffer & Manicure stick
- 22 nail shields & 100 white tips
- UV LED gel lamp
Easy to use?
Absolutely. You begin by using the nail buffer to shape your nail using the grey side, then lightly buff the surface of your nail using the pink side. The gel cleanser is used to clean the nails, then the primer is painted and left to dry for 30 seconds. The gel base/top coat is painted on first, followed by two coats of your chosen gel colour and another layer of the gel base/top coat. With each gel layer painted, the UV lamp is to be used for a recommended 30 seconds, however I’ve noticed the gel lasts longer when leaving them under for 60 seconds instead. You have to be careful not to get the gel over the edges of your nails or touching your cuticles, as the gel won’t last as long.
This set is currently on sale in Boots for £49.99 (It used to be more expensive!!) and can be purchased in store and online. I was bought the french manicure set, however there are so many other colours to choose from. I would personally recommend choosing this set and then purchasing additional colours you fancy (you can buy them individually), as I’ve loved having that sophisticated manicure option for professional events. It’s taken me until last week to run out of any of the components of this kit and I’ve been using many of them continually since December (6 months-ish). I firmly believe that you get your money’s worth from this set and it has worked out far cheaper than what the equivalent price would be to get it done professionally, it also saved me the hassle of getting there too.
I purchased the SensatioNail Gel Polish Essential Kit (shown above) for £25 as I decided I’d like to have replacements of everything for when they do run out. This kit has all the items the starter kit has but without the gel varnish and the lamp (& the nail shields and white tips – but I don’t use these anyway). First thing to run out for me was the gel cleanser, however I tried using Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water before I’d had the chance to buy a replacement gel cleanser and it did the job fine – and being £1 to purchase, is far cheaper. The essential kit also gives much bigger volume of the gel cleanser than the starter kit, with the starter kit you’re essentially paying the big bucks for the UV lamp and gel nail varnish. Personally I think it is worth buying the essential kit as everything will run out eventually. You can also buy replacement parts individually if you want to get them one at a time, as and when they begin running out. I’ve listed the different prices below for you to see.
- Essential kit £25: Includes everything you’ll need to replace – I recommend.
- Cleanser and wipes refill £9.50: Cheaper alternative is to re-use your original wipes & use Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water.
- Base/top coat refill £15 and Primer refill £5: Avoid! You can buy these combined for cheaper, see bottom of list.
- Base coat refill £15: Why get just the base coat, when you can get both base and top coat together? See below.
- Base/top coat PLUS primer refill £16.50: Much better deal than getting the base/top coat and primer separately.
Does it damage your nails?
Personally I feel like it does make your nails weaker after having gel on them. However, when the gel is on them they feel stronger than they do naturally. The most damage can be done when removing the gel, as just picking the varnish off (guilty!) completely ruins the surface of the nail. I’ve often picked the gel off out of laziness, but buffing the surface of the nail afterwards does make the nail smooth again. If the gel is removed properly this can be completely avoided. There are multiple removal tools available, as well as nail shields which can be applied to protect the nail.
In the past I’ve poured normal nail varnish remover into a bowl and left my nails to soak, before picking all the gel off. It doesn’t work very well at all as it takes a long time for it to begin removing the gel and also smells awful. BUT I checked in boots last week to see if they had any new removal tools and they do!! I haven’t used any of them to tell you if they’re worth buying yet, but I’ll list them below incase you want to try them yourself. Please do let me know if you’ve tried any of these in the comments, I’d love to hear your opinions so I know which ones are worth buying!
Nail shields are provided in the starter kit, which have been designed to protect the nail from being damaged by the gel. The shield sticks to the nail and the gel is applied as it normally would be, then when you are ready to take the gel off you can peel the shield away from each nail. I DO NOT LIKE THEM! When I applied these to my nails they didn’t stick down flat, which made the shield have a ripple texture and I haven’t used them again since. I think this is partly due to my tiny little fingers as I’m pretty sure that bigger and flatter nails would enable these to work perfectly. Admittedly though, they did the job of protecting my nails well and were really easy to peel off. If you have flattish nails rather than rounded like me, these will be a winner for you.
These tips (pictured above on the right) have been designed to use instead of using the white gel. The aim of them is to get a cleaner finish than you would using the white gel ‘free hand’. They are very thin layers of white varnish that stick right on to the nail. I’ve always applied my tips using the gel provided in the kit, as going through the sheets to select the right size tip and then cutting it down to size, seems more time consuming. I think I’ll test these out next time I’m going for a french manicure though!
The pink and white gel that comes with this kit creates a beautiful french manicure. I have used them both repeatedly since receiving my kit and always have a great end result. I’m planning to use the white gel for my upcoming trip to Ibiza, as both look great used independently too.
NEW SENSATIONAIL RELEASES
Since I received my kit, SensatioNail have made so many cool new additions to their gel range.
- You can now buy UV gel starter kits that are ‘Express’ for £34.99, the nail varnish that is included in the set, is a new formula that prevents you having to use a primer and base/top coat. This means it takes a lot less time to get your gel nails looking perfect. I’ve used my Mum’s Express gel and it is very convenient!! BUT, the downside is they only last up to ten days, whereas the normal gels lasts up to two weeks.
- The most funky thing they’ve created is the Polish to Gel Starter Kits for £49.99, which turns normal nail varnish into gel! This is pretty cool!! Perfect for anyone who already has a wide selection of normal nail varnishes.
- They’ve also introduced a Matte Top Coat for £10, I’m a massive fan of matte finishes on things. In the past I’ve often requested a matte finish on my nails when I get them done in the salon. This will very likely be my next gel nail purchase.
That concludes my first review! I absolutely adore this product and I have recommended buying these kits to all my friends. I hope this has been informative and if you have any questions I haven’t answered please do let me know!
Each gel varnish from SensatioNail is pretty pricey so I’ve experimented with cheaper brands to see how they compare. I’m planning to do a cheap vs. pricey comparison of my favourite colours in the next few days which will hopefully help you when deciding where to put your money.
Love Siân xo