At Home Gel Manicures That Actually Work, Plus: Beyonce, Madonna and Rihanna's Manicurists!

I mean, dude, if I can do it, you can do it.
Publish date:
March 15, 2013
Beyonce, DIY, cute nails, diy beauty, Rihanna, gel manicures, nail artists

GEL MANICURES. I don’t need to explain them, right? Virtually indestructible polish cured with a UV light? The future is here!

Lately, I’ve been seeing a TON of “at home gel manicure kits” popping up everywhere. I used to think they had “disaster” written all over them, and that some things should just be left in the hands of the professionals. We as consumers have been getting ballsy with the whole concept of “do it yourself.” I’m as crafty as the next lady, but there are just some things we do not need to be doing in our own homes while teetering over our bathroom sinks or hunched over our coffee tables.

This time, I was proved wrong.

A little over a month ago, I was haunting my local Ulta when I saw a nail polish rack filled with a TON of gel polish colors, all from a company called Red Carpet Manicure. One of my many beefs with at home gels is that the colors are usually limited to just reds, pinks and purples. Those colors are great and all, but I am flighty and I want options. But here was Red Carpet Manicure, offering me a veritable rainbow of options. And glitters, gel glitters!

I couldn’t help myself, I had to try it.

I ended up with the Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit, which includes everything you need to give yourself a long lasting gel manicure. The kit comes with a shade of red called “Red Carpet Reddy,” but as I have a strong aversion to red nails, I snatched a shade of blue called “And The Winner Is.”

Here’s the finished product:

I’m kind of still at a loss for words as to just how freaking easy it is to give yourself a legit gel manicure with Red Carpet. The Red Carpet Pro Kit is no harder to use than the polish you’re already using, so if you can paint your nails, then you’re ready to give yourself a fantastic set of gels. Just remember to use the UV light to cure the polish after each and every coat. I mean, dude, if I can do it, you can do it.

The nail color itself feels and behaves just like your regular nail polish would. It is the same consistency and will cover in two thin coats. The base coat and top coat are a different story, as they are little thicker than what you are used to. I actually prefer their consistency because unlike most clear coats that are typically thin and runny, the thicker formula gives you more control and allows you to be more precise during application. Precision is important with this system, but let me get back to that in a second, OK girls?

There are only two extra steps to the process that really ensure you get the best and longest wear out of your manicure, and both of them are crazy simple. The first is the Max Adhesion Prep that is used before you apply the base coat. It dehydrates the surface of your nail leaving it free of oil and residue so that the nail color totally clings to your nail. You apply this to your nail using a brush and then it essentially evaporates into thin air almost immediately. Boom.

The second is the Purify Pre & Post Application Cleanser, applied after the top coat is cured. The cleanser takes your nail from tacky to rock solid in just one swipe. It’s like witchcraft, I swear to god.

Red Carpet Manicure is not messing around with that UV light either, damn. Truthfully, I was expecting some sort of shotty light that didn’t get the job done. Again, I was wrong. Flip this thang on and it goes BEAST MODE on your nails. The light is super bright and it cures just as efficiently as those big boxy ones in the salon. The instructions even warn you “do not look directly into the light,” and I sort of get the feeling that they included that bit especially for me.

I’m not kidding you, this system is really easy, and it works. It’s not sticky, it’s not messy, and it’s not a time suck. It takes just 45 seconds to cure each layer of polish, so it barely takes any more time than your regular manicure would. Hell, since there is no dry time, it probably breaks even! I really could have just summed this entire article up by saying “It’s just like doing your nails regularly, except you use a UV light after every coat,” but that wouldn’t be much of an article now WOULD IT?

Leave it to me to test a gel polish on the most hand-taxing two weeks of my life. I helped move my day job to a new office, I played guitar every single day, I bartended throughout both weeks, and a ton of other HANDSY activities (heh). I beat the shit out of my nails and they didn’t chip once, until seriously 24 hours before I took it off. That is some durability, babes.

Here’s me looking weird and bartending with my gel mani, if anyone cares:

*insert every song lyric about falling in love with a bar tender here*

Here are my nails after two weeks (OK, don’t hate me. I started to file down the top coat to soak the off the polish before I took a photo of the final product. UGH, TYNAN! Then I realized my mistake and was mortified. Trust that they kept their high shine the full two weeks, because they did. I wouldn’t lie to you guys, I’m more honest with you than like 70% of my friends.)

Soaking them off is a breeze. They give you strips of tin foil with cotton stuck to them, ready wrap around your nails and have those weird alien fingers for ten minutes. Or you can just soak your fingers in a bowl of nail polish remover like I did.

The biggest tip I can give to ease in the application is to use super thin coats to make sure the polish doesn’t pool up on one side of your nail. If any polish is built up when you cure, it will stay like that for the full two weeks, leaving you with a ridge that is then prone to ripping off. That’s why my index finger is totally naked. I repeat: Use thin coats.

The Pro Kit is going to run you about $70 and no, that’s not cheap. But look at it this way, How much does it cost you to get a gel manicure twice a month? For me, they would be $40 a pop, not including tip, bringing me to $80 a month. If you’re into at home gels, make the initial investment because you will save a ton of money in the long run. No they’re not paying me to say that and no I’m not trying to sell you the damn product, I’m just trying to put things in PERSPECTIVE.

Wait. Wanna know who else frequently uses Red Carpet Manicure? LIKE EVERY CELEBRITY MANICURIST EVER. AND I TALKED TO ALL OF THEM. Well, two of them, but they’re the most important ones. Hold on to your meat dress, people.

I recently saw an article about nail art or summer nails or SOMETHING, in which Beyonce and Madonna’s manicurist was showing off how to do some cute nail tricks, and she used Red Carpet! SO I TRACKED HER DOWN.

During my casual and totally normal call with BEYONCE’S MANICURIST, Lisa Logan, I asked her simply, “What do you like about Red Carpet Manicure?”

She told me, “I like it because they have a larger selection, and they have a lot of cool colors. With any system you want to have something that not only goes on easy, and comes off pretty easily.”

I was also lucky enough to be in touch with Kimmie Kyees, Rihanna’s go-to manicurist (are you DYING right now?). Remember Rih’s amazing nails at the Grammys this year? Kimmie did them, and she used Red Carpet Manicure to mix a custom shade just for Rihanna!

She told me, “The trick to mixing shades is finding shades that layer well. Use an opaque color as a base and a semi-sheer color on top, so that the base can change the hue of the top color, giving it an added dimension. Rih wanted an orange-red that would perfectly match her dress, so we put an orange color down first (Ooh La Liscious) and a red on top (Red Carpet Reddy), that would blend nicely to create the color we needed.

With a product line like Red Carpet Manicure, blending allows you to customize your nails even further creating the perfect shade for whatever you are wearing !!

TIP TRICK -- Buy some plastic nail tips that are bare and practice mixing your colors on them first.”


Beyonce and Rihanna’s nail girls. I’m dead. Literally dead. I’m seriously typing this article in hell.

So, at home gels. Have you ever? Would you ever? What questions do you have that I can help answer?

And, where is Beyonce’s new single?

If you are a pop legend and would like me to do your nails, then tweet me at @TynanBuck.