Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gel Polish Manicure by Red Carpet

I bought the Red Carpet Gel Polish Pro Kit at Ulta a week ago.

I have been having a hard time with my nails breaking and peeling so I wanted to put a shellac gel over them to see if that would help. Ulta had this kit on sale and I had a 20% off coupon so I figured it was a good time to get it.

My hope was to have a coat over my nails so that I could get some natural length without resorting to getting acrylic nails.

This kit comes with everything you need to do a "shellac" type manicure at home.

As per the instructions I prepped my nails by filing them into the shape I wanted and pushed back and trimmed my cuticles with a nipper. Then I prepared the surface of my nails by LIGHTLY buffing them with a block buffer.

Then I wiped my nails with a cotton pad soaked in the "Purify Pre & Post Application Cleanser." (The blue bottle). This just cleans off any oils or filing dust that may be on your nails. The instructions say to use a lint free wipe but I didn't have any so I just used regular cotton pads.

Next I lightly brushed the "Prep Max Adhesion Sanitizer" onto my nails. This is essentially a dehydrator for the nails which allows the gel to bond. This is what my nails looked like prepped and ready for the gel.

Next I applied a very thin layer of the "Structure Base Coat Gel" over my nails and across the tip. Then I used the UV lamp for 30 seconds. I put my four fingers in first and then did my thumb alone, as per the instructions.

The base layer will still feel tacky to the touch, the instructions say NOT to touch your nails yet.

Next I did one coat of the included color "128 Red Carpet Reddy" and cured for 45 seconds. Then a second coat and cured again for 45 seconds.

Then I put one coat of the "Brilliance Seal & Shine Top Coat Gel" over my nails and tip and cured for 45 seconds. According to the instructions the nails will still feel tacky so don't touch. I wiped down each nail with the "Purify Pre & Post Application Cleaser" again. This took off all the tackiness. That's it - done. It took probably only 20 minutes and that's only because I was reading the instructions as I went. They came out a nice shiny red and were instantly dry.

Normally with a regular manicure I'm good for MAYBE one day before I get a chip. I figured this kit would be worth the cost if I could keep a chip free manicure for seven days. If not, the kit was going back to Ulta.

The instructions explicitly state to NOT get the gel on your skin. One reason for this is the gel will lift in that spot and end up lifting off your nail. This happend on my ring finger on my right hand- I had a big 'ol spotch of it trailing off my nail onto the side of my finger. So.... after one day I got a chip on that spot.

I'm not holding this chip against the kit though b/c it chipped due to my own error. Otherwise the mani stayed chip-free.

After about four days I was getting bored with the red so I put some Kleancolor Twinkly Heart over the red. This is with three layers of Twinkly Heart and one layer of Seche Vite.

This stayed on for seven days. By the seventh the Kleancolor hearts were beginning to chip and I was picking on them. If I had touched it up or left it alone, this mani would have lasted well past seven days. I was tired of the color though and ready for something different so I removed them.

Removal was easy. Just soaked cotton balls in the included remover (which is just pure acetone), put the cotton on the nail and wrapped it in foil. I left this on for 10 minutes. I removed the foil and scraped the gel off each nail with my thumb nail. Easy peasy.

My nails grew about 1/2 centimeter. It's enough for me to tell a difference in the length.

I'm now experiementing with layering a regular polish between the gel base coat and top coat. I will let you know how that goes.

Overall I am SUPER impressed. This kit was well worth the cost. If I were getting these manicures done in a salon I would pay about $35 to $40 a pop. This kit pays for itself in two manicures. :)

Loodie, loodie, loodie has a great series on doing gel manicures at home. I recommend checking out her site too if you are thinking about getting one of these kits.

Thanks so much for reading! I'd love to hear your experiences with UV gel polish.


  1. I have always had nails that broke easily, but I finally found the right formula (that works for me).
    Part of it is internal; I take 1000mg Biotin daily, which alone makes a big difference. I also use Creative Nail Designs, Solar Oil and Cuticle Eraser a couple of times a day. I switched to a glass nail file, which seemed to stop cracks for me. When I do my nails I use OPI Nail Envy as my base coat. I am happy to say that the last time I wanted to bite my nails down to the quick, they were so strong that it was impossible and I had to go get nail clippers.
    That being said, the Gel kit looks fun and makes the nails nice and SHINY!

    1. Thank you. Yes, taking Biotin daily has helped my nails get to the point that they will actually grow. But... they were still brittle. :) Plus, I'm very impatient. lol
      I do need to get better with the Solar Oil though, thanks for reminding me.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this! I have been thinking about getting a gel mani set but was unsure about it. I think you have convinced me to pick this one up. Do keep us updated about your trials are going!

  3. I haven't tried a gel mani. You make it tempting. How did it feel on your nails?

    1. It really just feels like you have polish on. After I put the three coats of the heart glitter on they got pretty thick but didn't feel "heavy" or anything.

  4. awesome set! and the price seems to be perfectly fine, too! i did my nails uv-gel-ish at home until the end of my apprenticeship, now its a 'no-no' :-(
    hope the other polishes will work as good on you!


    1. Cool, you have beautiful nails anyway that you don't even need it. :)

  5. So interesting! I will definitely look for a kit like this. I always had quite long nails before. Now they are chippy and fragile (it started the same time my hair went thin). I have never tried gel nail before. Looking forward to hear more about the test with other nail polish combined with the gel.
    Thanks!! <3

    1. My hair started thinning when my nails went to hell too. It all happened after the birth of my second kiddo.
      I will keep you up to date on my trials. :)

  6. I've been doing gel polish at home for a couple of months (I've been buying the Gelish polishes on Amazon). I LOVE IT. I never thought I would give up my acrylics... Now I think I will never go back to them. :-D I can go 2 weeks + without a chip, and just end up redoing them at that point to hide the new growth. I've only had ONE broken nail in the 2 months I've been doing this (and that was totally my fault).

    I love that color! Now I need to go order a nice strong red.

    1. I remember you saying that you used gel nails but I was thinking you did the tip/file down kind. Yeah, I'm so in love with this- will never get acrylics again.

      Good to hear about the no nail breaking. I'm amazed how much length I already have in just a week and a half. Goes to show how often my nails were chipping and breaking before!

    2. Yes, I was doing the full-on artificial gel nails for a little while, then discovered the gel polish and switched immediately. SO GLAD!!! :-D It was taking me a full 2 hours to do the gel nails (even just a fill) and they needed re-done every two weeks. Now, give me 20-30 minutes with the gel polish and I'm done!

  7. That's it, nail kit! You're going on my Christmas Wishlist!

  8. Seems like it works really well and is easy to do! My nails suck, I try to grow them long but always end up wrecking them.