The At-Home Gel Manicure Kit That Kept My Nails Flawless Throughout Fashion Week

Although I was slightly suspicious of the results being promised, it has basically changed my life.
Publish date:
September 30, 2013
manicures, nail polishes, kits, gel manicures, Red Carpet Manicure

So, the fashion weeks are over, and I am back in the beauty game with a whole heap of tactics that I employ during the month where sleep is not available to me but looking good is not optional.

I am starting with my favourite, because I’m impatient to share my new beauty holy grail: Red Carpet Manicure’s Gel Polish Pro Kit.

I’m a gross nail peeler: I pick apart my cuticles when I am nervous, bored or tired. I also peel my nail polish off my fingers, which means that manicures last about 12 hours and I leave a little trail of peeled-off colour wherever I go. You know what doesn’t ever look chic, irrespective of the season? Gnawed fingertips.

A while back, I started getting gel manicures, where you go to a salon and they use a special nail polish (usually Shellac or Gelish) and a UV light to somehow tack colour onto your nails with more adhesion than a regular varnish. These last up to TWO WEEKS with legit no chipping, and are incredibly difficult to pick or peel off. Plus, they look super-shiny.

I just can’t abide by actual fake nails, wraps or acrylics, so these are my compromise. However, I actually hate salon manicures. Nobody is more rigorous about cuticle care than me--not even nail technicians--so I like to do my nails myself (also: cheaper).

So, I got a home gel polish kit, although I was slightly suspicious of the results, and it has basically changed my life. Before fashion week started, I did mine and all my friends’ nails, in a variety of colours (you have to use the special Red Carpet Manicure colours--not normal varnishes--which is slightly annoying, but it's a small price to pay for the miracle of long-lasting paint).

Basically, it works like this:

  1. Buff your fingertips with the provided stick, so that they are a little rough to the touch.
  2. Paint on the magical dehydrator (Prep) that saps moisture from your nails so that the base coat has maximum staying power.
  3. Swipe on a thin coat of the base paint (Structure) and stick your fingers under the UV light for 30 seconds. The only frustrating thing about this system is that you can only fit four fingers at a time under the UV light, so each stage takes three separate goes, but that is bearable if you have a Netflix account and a pack of cigarettes (or whatever you’re into).
  4. Do exactly the same (paint and "cure," although this time for 45 seconds, under the light) for the two coats of a colour of your choosing and the shiny shiny Brilliance topcoat.
  5. Use the Purify liquid poured onto a bit of cotton wool to swipe off the residual tackiness.
  6. Rub on some of the Revitalise onto cuticles to counteract the not-so-great effect the dehystrator will have on your fingers and you’re done!FOR TWO WEEKS! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO THINK ABOUT MANICURES FOR TWO WEEKS!

This has been a total revelation to me, and all of my friends, to whom I have become resident manicurist. Although the initial expenditure is a bit much, I have traded enough favours for my home-salon manicures to make it worthwhile. And even though I was undoing buttons at quick-fire speed throughout fashion shows and peeling labels and picking lint off of millions of items of clothing (where does all the lint come from?!) they didn’t chip.

If that isn’t a testament to their hard-wearing duty, I don’t know what is. I mean, I might not work in construction, but some of those labels are really sticky.

When it comes to removal, you can do two things. Either follow the instructions in the pack and make foil nail wraps out of tin foil, cotton pads and the enclosed Erase remover, or you can do the lazier version that I am partial to: buy some acetone at your local beauty store, pour it into a bowl and leave your hands in it for 10 minutes until all the paint peels off.

Whilst this might sound like the worst thing ever for your nails, I have been doing it fortnightly for months and actually, my crappy, flimsy nails are in no worse condition than they were before (probably slightly better, actually, as I don’t peel off the top layers with my teeth because they are protected by magical nail polish).

I’ve swatched a bunch of the colours because buying nail varnish online is a real nightmare; however, on their website, they have this really cool thing where users submit photos or Instagrams or whatever and when you go to buy a polish, it shows you pictures of it applied onto real people’s hands. Why doesn’t everyone do this? It’s a game-changer.

So, go forth, enjoy, and let me know: are you into gel manicures? Do you ruin your nails every time you do them? Why doesn't everyone do this stuff?