The thing that puts a lot of people off a gel mani is the removal process… it’s not difficult, just time consuming and a bit of a faff. SensatioNail has come up with a clever solution in the form of Nail Shields, which allow you to peel off a gel mani when you want to switch colours. They’ve also released 10 new colours and a matte top coat - more about those in a minute.
Nail Shields are essentially little thin stickers, attached to nails in a similar style to nail wraps, which protect the nail bed from damage and allow you to remove your gel mani in 5 minutes. No acetone, no wrapping finger tips in foil or soaking them for ages. A game changer. They don’t affect application, wear time or any other element of your gel manicure. In fact they reduce a couple of steps as there’s no need for primer or base coat with these - you can just go straight in with gel polish (NB SensatioNail rec that you apply primer & base coat over the Nails Shields, but I didn’t find that necessary).
NAIL SHIELDS: User Tips
I’m not gonna lie, while I think the concept of these is GENIUS, I did find them a wee bit tricky to apply at first, so here are my tips on getting it right:
- Make sure nails are completely clean, grease and dust-free (avoid hand cream or cuticle oil the day of application).
- Cleanse nails with Gel Cleanser and make sure you’re in a well lit room, with natural light if possible. These are very thin and you need to see what you’re doing clearly.
- Hold each nail up next to the sheet of Nail Shields and work out which will fit each finger. Number two sheets of stickers from pinky to thumb so that you don’t have to keep stopping as you go along (assuming your nails are similar sizes on both hands). If your nails are quite short, each sticker can be cut in half and used for both hands.
- Use tweezers or an orange stick to lift the Nail Shields - avoid touching the sticky side with your skin as this can interfere with cohesion.
- Starting at the cuticle, press the sticker onto your nail and smooth it out to get rid of any air bubbles. This is the trickiest part and it’s important to get it right, as bubbles or loose edges could cause your mani to lift. The orange stick or Removal Tool both help.
- Fold any excess over the tip of your nail (as in my pic above) and file in a downwards direction. Filing sideways will cause it to lift and allow dust to catch underneath. Been there, wasted some of mine - learn from my mistakes!
That’s it - go straight in with the colour of your choice, no need for primer or base coat. Two coats of colour, Top Coat and you’re done. For removal, soak nails in water for 5 mins, then gently lift the Nail Shield at the base of your nail and peel back. Job done.
Pretty cool, huh? I’m wearing them under my mani below. If you’re not a Sensationailer, I don’t see any reason why these wouldn’t work with other brands of gel (or glitter) polish and they’re quite reasonably priced at £8 for 88.
There are 10 new colours in total, mostly nude shades, but I opted to try out the two brights of the bunch: Tropical Punch and Jade Treasure. Tropical Punch is a vivid orange-coral with a subtle hot pink duochrome, typically difficult to capture on camera, but trust me - it’s gorgeous. Jade Treasure is another beaut, but looks nothing like a.the colour on the box/bottle or indeed the colour in my swatch. It’s a really bright jade green, almost too bright for my pale winter skin, but I know it will be gorgeous with a Summer tan. The Matte Top Coat should be applied in one coat over any gel polish, replacing the usual top coat. Personally, I’ll always prefer glossy, but will definitely use this for nail art - eg to add matte tips, lines or dots.
I applied this Tropical Punch mani over the Nail Shields - and although it looks slightly thicker than usual (I applied an extra coat just to be sure), I don’t think anyone would notice a difference.
Sensationail Nail Shields, £8; Matte Top Coat, £10; Gel Polishes, £12.50 - all available at sensationail.co.uk