For a long time I have been following gel nail polish products. I even went and got a few them done at salons. Once I tried the OPI Axium Gel, then a generic that I couldn't determine the brand of, and of course I tried CND's Shellac. As far as the application and removal process goes I was drawn most to Shellac. However, when I went to a salon (listed on the CND website) and had an approved nail tech apply it, it was a total disaster. The application looked like it was done by a 7 year old and it didn't have the shine, nor the staying power; it started peeling off within hours. Due to the terrible application I wasn't all that disappointed.
Regardless, I decided I really wanted to purchase the CND Shellac System. It appealed to me on many levels; no damage to the nail (no buffing required), cruelty free, and a high quality product. It also seems to be more user friendly in that the bottles are just like regular polish bottles. Using my tax refund I scoured eBay for a reputable seller and found one. I got the CND UV Lamp (bulbs included), 10 Shellac Colors, Top and Base Coat, Lint Free Wipes, CND CuticleAway, and CND Cuticle Eraser. It also included some free filing blocks and orange wood sticks. I passed on the ScrubFresh because I heard Isopropyl Alcohol worked just as well. I paid $300.00 for the kit.
I got my kit in record time and it sat for a few weeks as I had others things going on. Wednesday night after work I was home alone and decided to give it a go. I was hesitant; I knew there was a chance that I wouldn't like the results or that the curing process wasn't actually going to cure the polish and I would have to go to bed with soft nails and wake up to dents and smears. My experience with the OPI Axium Gel was like that; even after additional curing time it was still soft and showed dings.
I'm happy to report that this product works EXACTLY like it says it does. It was a pleasure to use the system; I especially love the consistency of the product and the brushes used for the base and top coat. The consistency reminds me of a hybrid between a gel and a polish. It is a thick consistency, but smooths over the nail beautifully. The smell reminds me of acrylics. The brushes in the base and top coat are short, flat paddle style brushes that make application a breeze. I had very accurate application and very little clean up before curing in the UV lamp.
The brush in Hotcki to Tchotchke was thinner and required a little more effort, but due to the thicker formula I didn't have to worry about tons of product left on my skin. This is a very pretty shimmery teal green. It's definitely on the sheer side and as you can see it does leave brush strokes. Being my first time using the product I was using very thin coats on my left hand, but when applying to my right hand it was a slightly thicker application. I thought it might not cure properly but it did and it is much more opaque on my right hand. Through this process I was able to understand how to correctly apply the product; what's nice is you don't have to worry about overworking the product since each layer is cured before applying the next.
If you are not familiar with the application process of Shellac, you should visit their website. The steps are very simple and easy to follow. Before curing each layer I would use an orangewood stick dipped in Acetone to do a little clean up. It's pretty much impossible to do any clean up after curing it.
Each layer is tacky to the touch (it helps with the whole bonding process) after curing so you might not think it is dry; but it totally is. I just recommend watching out to make sure you don't touch a tacky nail to anything fuzzy otherwise you will get some fuzzies trapped in your polish; it totally happened to me because I had a towel in my lap and a few times touched it without realizing it. Ha! Lesson learned! :-) It's why you see some spots that look like bubbles in my photo.
When you do your final top coat, you do a final 2 minute cure in the UV lamp and then use a lint free wipe and Isopropyl Alcohol to remove the tacky layer. I was reading that you should use 99%, but my 70% worked just fine. I gingerly tapped my nails together and heard a crisp, clean clack. They were rock hard. Super shiney, and smooth too!
Of course my photo isn't perfect, but in real life the imperfections are not as noticeable and I think it looks great. This particular color glows from within and one of my coworkers was in love with the color. Shellac gives my nails added strength too, it's thicker than regular polish, but not as thick as acrylics; just enough to add some protection.
I am very pleased with the results of the Shellac System; all in all my nails were done in 30 minutes flat. I didn't have to rush either; I took my time applying it and everything came out great. The process is extremely easy and provided you correctly prep your nails and follow the system you will end up with excellent results. I will also let you know how this manicure stands the test of time with some updates.
Have any of you purchased any gel nail kits? Which ones did you get and what were your results like?