A few weeks ago I got on the gel manicure train. Well I dipped my toes in first with a nail polish to gel kit from SensatioNail (review post) which allows you to transform any normal nail polish into a gel one - pretty cool, right? But since then I've wanted to try out a full gel nail kit with actual gel polishes - 1. To see if the process was easier 2. To indulge my new love of gel nails!
As you can see here I now have a full gel nail starter kit and lots of wonderful gel polishes from Belle Gel that I've been testing out and today I thought I'd give it a full review and my honest options on gel manicures in general... because it's not all positive (see below)!
What you receive in the Belle Gel starter kit
Portable LED lamp, USB lead & mains plug, fabric travel wrap, protector base coat, glossy top coat, 'Ripe Raspberry' gel polish, cleanser & wipe off 30ml, nail file
Price - Belle Gel Starter Kit £54.95 here or Peel Off Gel & Lamp (gel colour not included) £34.95 here. You can also buy additional items from the Bella Gel website such as - nourishing cuticle oil, cuticle pusher, cleanser & wipe off 100ml, gel remover 100ml, foil wraps and 12 gel colours.
My First Gel Manicure
For my first gel manicure I decided I wanted ultra pink nails with Malaga Magic and as you can see it turned out pretty shiny and lovely. Below I've detailed the process, which I found pretty easy and took around 5 minutes per hand. As for how long my nails lasted, it was a good 9 days before a few edges chipped and I had to remove it (which is a longer process of around 20 minutes!). You can also find swatches of the full gel colours to the bottom of this post.
- Prepare: Light buff nails to remove shine. Cleanse to eliminate dust and natural oils.
- Protector Base: Apply a thin, even coat and cure for 60 seconds.
- Colour Coats x 2: Apply a thin, even application of 2 coats of colour, curing each for 60 seconds
- Glossy Top: Finally apply a single glossy top coat and cure for 60 seconds
- Finish: Wipe over nails with the cleanser on a paper towel and voila, your nails are dry and finished!
Thoughts on the starter kit
My instant thoughts of this gel kit as soon as I set it up (all of 5 seconds) was focused towards the LED lamp with how portable it is, it's slightly bigger than a deck of cards, and how bright the LED lights were... which I'm sure helps with a quick and more solid gel manicure. I also loved the addition of fabric travel wrap as the LED lamp fits into one of the pockets as do all the accessories - so you can ditch the box and when it comes to doing your nails you can roll the wrap out on the table and have everything instantly to hand.
As for the gel colours, I do think most gel polishes are of the same standard however the colour range with Belle Gel is good, I'm in love with the two shades above, and I like that the starter kit does come with a gel colour in Ripe Raspberry. You can see swatches of the full gel colour collection below which are all priced at £12.50 for 8ml. But of course you are free to use an brand of gel polishes with the LED lamp - I personally love Elite 99 shades which start from only £2.50 on eBay here.
The not so positives to gel nails
If you are a nail polish picker then gel nails are seriously not for you! Even though gel nails last 8+ days you can always find an edge to peel/lift up and peel off. This will seriously damage your nail bed, especially over time as you will end up peeling parts of the surface layer of nail off and end up with weak brittle nails!
Gel nails aren't something that can be relaxingly done in dull lighting at night. The LED lamp, especially this one, is bright and from personal experience and asking others it can cause headaches. LED/UV light isn't supposed to be looked at directly however there is a certain amount of glow that comes off the lamp when it's in use that you really can't avoid looking at when doing the gel process.
Belle Gel - Full gel polish swatches (left to right)
£12.50 each here - All shades apply streak-free and cure to a ultra smooth, glossy finish
Row 1 - Saturday Night Red, Cassis, Sunset, Malaga Magic
Row 2 - Oyster, Cafe Creme, Mint Cream, Ice Pink
Row 3 - Foxglove, Denim Blues, Driftwood
Overall this kit is ideal if you are new to gel nails! It's easy to use and I still can't get over how compact the LED lamp is. I also love that there is a peel off option which is perfect if you don't have the time to soak off your gel nails.
A really good Gel nail kit here that I would recommend.