Alex’s DIY: SensatioNAIL at-home gel manicures

By January 11, 2012 11 Comments

Alex’s DIY: SensatioNAIL at-home gel manicures

As you well know, I am head over heels for gel manicures. I’ve been having them done regularly for a year without any damage to my nails and can’t say enough about how much I love them. Lately, I’ve seen “gel-like” products hitting the mass market but wasn’t particularly curious. When I was asked to try out SensatioNail, I was intrigued. The kit included polishes, primer and a LED light, not unlike the Gelish I wear (Shellac and OPI use old fashioned UV) – I couldn’t wait to try it for myself.

Maybe it’s all the time having them done professionally, but I’ve watched the way gels are painted, and it takes different skill than regular polish. It takes precision that I wasn’t sure I could tackle on my own hands, so with 10 applications in that bottle of Scarlet Red, I decided to start with a pedicure. The light had ample room for my foot, and I thought that I’d have better results than with a manicure.

With five simple steps and about 20 minutes from start to finish, I had a perfect pedicure. I actually poked at a nail with the tip of an orange stick after the topcoat sat for 30 seconds under the LED just to see if they really set like “real” gels. Not a knick to be made.

Still unsure I could do my own, I decided to ask friends and family if I could test it on them. The starter kit color came with just the Scarlet Red (they’re releasing a total of 12 colors this month). It’s definitely a bit more coral than blue-red, but a fun shade. Each manicure took about 20 minutes and again, they each time they looked good. Better than I’d expected. And my testers were pleased, too.

Ten days later, my pedicure is perfect and not a chip or scuff to be found. Reports from my guinea pigs are that than their nails are holding up beautifully. Will they have the 2-3 week staying power of a salon gel mani? We’ll see. Still, even a week of perfect nails in a shade brighter than Mademoiselle is pretty fabulous.

I think this looks like a great line, but it’s really the sort of thing one is best having someone else give them a hand with (no pun intended). If gel polish gets on cuticles and cures under the LED, that polish isn’t coming off until you soak the whole nail (that’s 15 minutes with an acetone-soaked cotton ball on the nail wrapped tightly with a strip of aluminum foil.) Maybe with a baby pink shade I wouldn’t notice, but red hides no flaws. For DIYs, I’ll be sticking with pedicures until I can try a ballet slippers-esque hue. But I’m thrilled to know that all polishes – bright or neutral – will be free of the big three: formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl pthalate.

The starter kit ($60) comes with everything you need for 10 applications, plus the LED light. You can find it at CVS and WalMart stores nationwide. Additional polish colors will launch this month at about $12 a bottle. Visit Sensationail’s website, Facebook or twitter feed for details. And please, if you DIY, let me know what you think! xo alex


Alex Asher Sears is a writer, photographer, and fourth generation Angeleno. She believes that you can find inspiration anywhere but thinks Slim Aarons, Nöel Coward and Diana Vreeland are a great place to start. Since 2007, she’s been sharing her eco-beauty finds with BB readers. She writes at AlexandraWrote, and also, quite literally, at Type A Calligraphy. Find her on twitter at @AlexandraWrote.

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