Monday, May 1, 2017

Beginners Guide To An At Home Gel Manicure Featuring Sensationail's Express Gel Kit ~ Review + Swatches

I love getting a fresh gel manicure done at the salon but I rarely have the time (or the extra cash) to do it. Sure gel polish looks amazing and lasts a long time, but then I have to go back (and spend more money) to have the gel removed. The last time I went, an over zealous employee destroyed my natural nails during the removal process and it left a sour taste in my mouth. I haven't been back to the nail salon since.

I've been painting them with standard polish at home but it's really quite underwhelming. My nails look pretty for a day and then they chip. And chip some more. By the third day I'm removing my polish and throwing my hands up in the air.

Fast forward to now. I was given the opportunity to test out Sensationail's Express Gel kit ($59.99) and I would be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued. A salon quality, gel manicure from the comfort of my own home? In less than 5 minutes? You better believe I jumped on the opportunity!

Sensationail's Express Gel kit comes with everything you need to give yourself a gorgeous gel manicure at home. Included in the kit is an LED lamp, gel colour, manicure stick, buffer stick and instruction sheet. This one-step polish doesn't require a base or a top coat; it truly is an express manicure!

You start your manicure off by shaping your nails and lightly buffing the nail using the included buffer. After you have shaped and buffed you will need to ensure there is no dirt, dust or oil on your fingernails as this will interfere with the curing process. Take a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol and cleanse your nails allowing them to dry before moving on to the next step.

Shake your bottle of Sensationail vigorously and apply a thin coat to your nails, capping the free edge (tip) of your nail. Gel polish is quite thick; be careful not to paint a thick coat as it can cause the gel to shrink. You also want to make sure that you avoid your skin and cuticles. Once your nails are painted you simply place your hand into the lamp to cure for 30 seconds. Repeat with a second coat and voila, you have a gorgeous gel mani!

So is it as easy as it sounds? Yes it is! I did run into a slight issue with the usb plug fitting into the lamp. In order to fit the plug into the lamp, I had to angle it upwards and shimmy it in. I haven't heard anyone else mention this so I think it may just be the particular unit I received opposed to a design flaw.

I've used Sensationail's Express Gel kit twice so far and these are my top tips to ensure you get the best manicure possible:

  • Prep your nails; file, shape and lightly buff the shine off of your nails to ensure the best adhesion of the gel to your nails
  • Ensure your cuticles are pushed off of your nail; trim them if necessary
  • Use 100% pure acetone or rubbing alcohol to clean your nails of oil and dust
  • Don't touch your hair or face after cleaning them (this will transfer oil to them)
  • Paint very thin coats; Too thick and they will peel (figured out the hard way)
  • Take your time! Make sure there is no gel on your skin. It is very hard to remove after curing

And that's it! All that's left is to enjoy your shiny gel manicure. I plan on updating this post to let you all know how long my mani stayed beautiful.

You can find Sensationail at select Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart and Rexall Drug stores.

Have you tried Sensationail gel polishes before? Do you have any tips on maintaining or removing a gel manicure? Let's talk! Share your tips in the comment section below 👇

*PR samples were provided for editorial consideration. As always, all opinions are my own!


  1. Great review! I was going to ask about removal. You can't take it off with regular nail polish remover I hear. What does one use.

    1. Thanks! Yes, you're right, they can't be removed with regular nail polish remover. You can purchase a gel remover kit or make your own by soaking cotton pads in pure acetone, placing them over the gel and wrapping them in tin foil. After 15 minutes you should be able to scrape it off.

  2. I was so impressed when I tried the Express gel. I only needed one coat, cured for 30 seconds. It lasted 19 days with just a bit of wear on the tips. Tonight I soaked a cotton ball in acetone, wrapped in foil for 15 minutes, added more acetone waited another 15 minutes and was able to pick some gel off. I ended up filing it off. What am I doing wrong? Did you find it difficult to remove?

  3. Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.