Saturday, May 7, 2011

Brush-On Gel Nails

I've been curious about gels for ages but have never had access to the supplies or the funds to get everything necessary. While I was out shopping recently I stopped in the nail care aisle (out of mere habit) and happened to spot this kit on the bottom rack and I figured I would give it a shot. My nails suffered thanks to the meds I had to take recently, and they're very slow in recovering from that. So right now they are stubby, flaky and just generally not pretty to look at. I missed having nice long nails to pretty up with polish. 


This kit was only about $10 and provides enough tips for you to do two full applications - one with the white French tips and one with tips that are "natural" and do not have French tips. The kit promises fast and easy application and the process is supposed to be pretty fool-proof. 

You start, as always, by cleaning off your natural nails. Then you are to "lightly file" your nails to remove shine. Then you use the brush-on gel to adhere the tips to your nails, and then you apply a coat of the gel over the entire nail surface followed by the activator. You do a second coat of gel and activator, then once it's dry paint your nails as desired.

Sounds easy enough, right? 

I must have smaller than average nails as the smallest size tips provided (11) are too big for my smallest nails. Not by much mind you, but too big is too big. I hate having to file the sides of tips/fake nails so they'll fit me, but it's something I've had to get used to for the rare occasions I want fake nails. But this time I chose to be lazy and call it good enough and use the tips as-is. (So bad, I know.) Other than that though, applying the tips was simple as could be. 

I applied my first coat of gel and activator to my nails, then the second coat, and then I proceeded to wait for them to dry. The instructions made no mention of how long it should take for them to dry so I had no clue how long I should wait. When they were still tacky an hour later I finally decided to check out the "troubleshooting" section of the instructions. It said that if the nails remained tacky, not enough gel was applied. The activator must be applied while the gel is still wet. So, I thought, simple enough to fix by adding a third coat of each but instead of doing a full hand at a time, just one nail at a time to insure the gel was still wet enough for this to work. Oh but that's where things went very wrong.

In the time between the initial application and the time when I realized I would have to fix my nails with a third coat of gel and activator, the brush on the gel had clumped together in a very hard mass of bristles. IMPOSSIBLE to fix or to work with. I didn't have any other options (other than to soak the tips off and call it a loss... but I didn't want to take that route) so I just did my best with the brush as it was. 

Eventually my nails did dry and I was able to paint them... and they look ok. If not for the issues with the brush, it could have been a flawless fix. But because the brush had clumped together, my final coat of gel was sloppy regardless of how careful I tried to be with it. But... most people aren't going to be looking closely enough at my nails to notice the flaws. So I'm letting them go for now.


I used the French tips then painted them with 1 coat each Zoya "Lulu" and Sally Hansen "Hidden Treasure". Ring fingers and thumbs got a homemade decal, finished it off with a Sally Hansen top coat.

Honestly, I didn't expect this to be a super speedy, easy process on the first go. I would LOVE to do this again, truly. But that brush in the gel.... which ps smells and acts an awful lot like regular old nail glue despite what the packaging says. So far they seem to be holding up well enough; two of my decals smudged off though which I can guarantee is from the issues applying the gel/tips and it's not a question of the quality of the decals or my top coat. But the tips feel secure even after a couple sessions of playing Frisbee with my neighbor's dog and doing some serious cleaning around the house and several loads of dishes. 

I would still recommend this kit though if you are wanting to do your nails but you don't have the time for acrylics (or if you aren't good with acrylics) and regular glue-on nails don't last long enough for you. These are much faster than acrylics and easy to do on your own nails without help from anyone. Just be aware of the fact that you really need to apply the activator while the gel is wet - do one nail with gel then immediately apply the activator. Between nails, put the brush for the activator in the "brush cleaner" bottle to keep it from gunking up. (It WILL clump on you if you don't pop it into the cleaner till you are ready to do the next nail, I discovered this very quickly!) And expect to only get ONE application since the gel brush obviously is not going to remain usable for the second set of tips.


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