Review of 'Sephora by OPI' Gel Nail Manicure Kit
I don't have great nails and I've never had much success with keeping a manicure looking nice for longer than a day, so before I went to New York at Christmas, I treated myself to a salon gel manicure. It lasted until I got home two weeks later. I can't stress enough how lovely it was to not have to worry about my nails the entire trip!
A week into my holiday I went into Sephora on Fifth Avenue and bought the "Sephora by O.P.I. Gelshine At-Home Gel Colour System". Other kits may vary slightly, but the steps behind applying a gel manicure are largely the same. Always follow the directions included in your individual kit though to be on the safe side.
If you can paint your nails and follow instructions, you can do a gel manicure. I wouldn't bother going back to a salon to have mine done now - I think the at-home kit is just as good.
The Sephora by O.P.I. Gelshine Colour System
The kit from Sephora costs $159.00. I consider this value for money, compared to $40 at a salon for one manicure, and another $20 to have it removed. The Sephora gelshine polishes are $17.50.
The success of a gel manicure is in following all the steps as directed and curing the nail polish under the LED light including in the kit.
The instructions for the kit are very thorough. It is extremely important to follow all the steps carefully. If you cut corners or skip steps you'll end up in a real mess.
This kit, although wired for the U.S. works with an adaptor for Australian power outlets.
Included in the kit is:
- gel nail colour remover
- nail cleanser
- LED light box for curing nails.
- a buffer/file
- brush on cuticle oil
- nail pads (for cleaning nails)
- 3 sets of nail removal wraps (these are great, and can be purchased separately)
- 3 sets of gloves (to use when removing nail colour)
- cuticle pusher
- instruction book
When you purchase the kit, a nail colour of your choice is also included.
Remember, only gel-polish will work with this system. Don't attempt it with normal polish.
Also Works with Opi Gelcolor Polishes
Fortunately, since I can't buy from Sephora in Australia, this kit works just as well with Opi Gelcolor nail polishes, as it does with the Sephora by OPI ones. I bought some on Ebay and they are also available on Amazon. There is also more colour choice with Opi Gelcolor than there is with the Sephora Gelshine.
The other good thing about Opi Gelcolors is that they also do many of the same colours in their normal polish. This is great for touch ups if you want to stretch your gel manicure out even longer.
Is it Worth It?
I would have to say it is absolutely worth it! Although the above steps sound time-consuming, it's not really that different to waiting 5 minutes for each coat of normal nail polish to dry. And afterwards, you have a rock hard polish, without having to worry about dents and chips.
Unfortunately, gel manicures may not be great for your nails. Of course, it depends on the condition of your nails before you begin, but I find it best if I revert to a normal polish for two weeks after every couple of gel manicures.
While the gel polish is on your nails, it actually makes them harder and stronger, but unfortunately the removal process can leave nails feeling a little brittle and thin.
Using a cuticle oil and good hand/nail cream may reduce the damage.
Is it hard to do a Gel Manicure?
I am really not good at doing my nails at all, but I find this kit really easy.
As I said earlier, it is vital that you follow all the steps. The box that the kit comes in includes a QR code that you can scan with a QR reader on your phone, which will then take you to a youtube instructional video by Sephora. ( If you want to watch it now, go to YouTube and search Gel Nail Tutorial: How to Apply Gelshine by Sephora.) This 4 minute video clearly shows you how to do the manicure, and the flip card instruction book included in the kit is also very clear.
The steps, briefly outlined to give you an idea of what's involved, are as follows:
1. Prepare nails
Wash and sanitise hands and nails. Shape nails, push back cuticles and gently buff nails to remove shine.
Wipe nail cleanser over nails to thoroughly remove dust and oils.
2. Apply base coat and cure
Curing is done by placing the nails into the LED light box for 30 seconds. The light switches off automatically after 30 seconds, so there is no need to worry about timing it yourself.
3. Apply a coat of nail polish and cure.
Repeat (2 coats are necessary, 3 can be applied if you think it looks too thin).
4. Apply top coat and cure.
5. Saturate another Nail Pad with nail cleanser and wipe over nails and under nail edge.
Some of the reviews I read said that they worried their nails still felt tacky after finishing all the steps, because they forgot this important last step. Your nails will feel a bit sticky until you finish the manicure and wipe off the tacky residue, so DON'T FORGET TO DO THIS.
Other Things to Remember..
After applying each coat of polish/base coat/top coat wipe off extra from around your cuticles with the cuticle pusher before curing.
Now, this all sounds very simple, which it is, but unfortunately you have to do the thumb separately to the fingers. This is because you need to put your thumb flat and facing up in the light box, which is pretty impossible if you're trying to cure your fingernails at the same time.
For feet it's easier - you can pop all 5 toes into the LED light at once.
Complete the steps for one hand and then move onto the other hand/foot. Don't try to do them all at once, as the coats need to be cured as soon as you put apply them.
Removing the nail polish is quite simple, and you can also use the remover kit to take off salon gel manicures, rather than paying $20 for a salon removal.
- Soak a wrap with nail colour remover and wrap the nail removal pad around your fingers. Cover hands with gloves.
- Leave for 20 minutes. Take off and see if the colour is lifting off your finger. If it is, you should be able to just gently scrape the rest of the polish off with the cuticle pusher included in the kit. If not, cover it back up again, adding more remover to the pads if necessary, checking that the polish remover is in contact with your nail and leave it a bit longer. Repeat for each finger/toe.
- Apply cuticle oil after polish removal.
Don't panic if you run out of the removal wraps. Individual removal kits can be purchased from Sephora (please note they only include the pads and gloves, NOT the remover itself.)
Otherwise, as I found out from forums on the web, you can also just soak a makeup remover pad with the removal polish and wrap aluminium foil around your digits. I've tried it and it works just as well. Make sure you always use a remover specifically formulated for removing gel polish though.
Beauty warehouses and supply stores sell the remover required for taking off gel polish.