I've used Nailene's SensatioNail home gel kit since it first launched a few years ago. As someone who is tough on manicures, you can't beat the feeling of waking up to perfectly glossy, chip-free nails every morning. I don't use it all the time and own an embarrassing number of regular polishes too, so was excited to hear of the latest SensatioNail launch, a Polish to Gel transformer that converts any nail polish into a gel polish.
Essentially, this is a bottle of clear gel polish (with magic ingredients, obvs) that can be used as a top coat or mixed with nail polish and cured under an LED lamp for a long lasting mani. Beginners to gel manis (or SensatioNail) will need to invest in the Polish to Gel Starter Kit to use this. If you already own a SensatioNail kit, there's no need to buy the full shebang; the little bottle of transformer can be bought separately and will work with your original lamp.
WHAT'S IN THE KIT?
Everything you need to do a gel mani, except the nail polish you mix it with, which you presumably already own (only about six shoe boxes full, and that's after donating around 1/3 of it, oops).
- An LED lamp with magnetic removable base so that you can use it for pedis, clever! This is the new lamp, which cures in half the time of the original one, is extra compact and powers via plug or usb lead (inc).
- Gel Primer
- Gel Cleanser
- Polish to Gel Transformer
- Cleansing Wipes
- Mixing pot (with lid)
- Orange stick
HOW DOES IT WORK?
There are two methods: one quick and easy; one more time consuming but worth the effort in my opinon.
1. Top Coat - quick & easy
- Paint nails as normal
- Allow to dry completely (not just touch dry, so 30-60 mins minimum)
- Apply Polish to Gel Transformer as top coat
- Cure under LED lamp for 15 seconds
- Wipe clean with Gel Cleanser (to remove sticky moisture layer)
2. Mixing Method - long haul
This works on the same principle as any gel manicure and taking the time to prep nails properly will contribute around 50% to the lasting power of your mani. If you're used to a home gel kit, this will be second nature, but will take time to get used to otherwise. Totally worth it.
- Push back cuticles with orange stick
- File and buff nails
- Wash hands
- Apply Gel Cleanser - to remove traces of oil, moisture and dust
- Apply Gel Primer - optional, will help manicure last longer
- Apply Base Coat - optional, will help manicure last longer. Can use original base coat or Transformer
- Cure 15 seconds under LED lamp
- Mix 6 drops of chosen nail polish with 6 drops of Gel Transformer
- Apply two layers of colour, curing each for 30 seconds
- Apply top coat
- Apply Gel Cleanser
That sounds like a lot of steps but each one takes seconds and the whole process takes me around 40 minutes. I tried both of these methods, with and without basecoat and found that the long haul Mixing Method helped my manicure last as long as a regular gel mani - 10-14 days. The Top Coat method chipped more easily than expected, though this may have been because my nails were so short when I used it that I couldn't cap the edges.
- Use a piece of tin foil (or cling film) to line the mixing pot to save mess and cleaning.
- Cap each layer of polish, painting along the free edge of the nail for an extra strong finish.
- Use a much thicker layer of Polish to Gel Transformer as top coat than your average top coat for a shiny finish (mine was quite dull before I did this). Alternatively you can use the regular SensatioNail top coat, which is mega glossy.
- Avoid quick dry (don't cure as well) or sheer (will look too sheer) nail polishes for the Mixing Method. Opaque colours work best.
- If in doubt about equal quantities, add an extra drop of Transformer.
- Mix really well; don't be half hearted about it or the formula won't peform or cure correctly.
- As with any gel mani, tidy up any mistakes before you cure. Polish on the skin or cuticles will cause the edges to lift and chip.
I've tried this system twice now (testing different methods on different fingers/hands) and used Essie polishes both times. This one is Essie Bahama Mama, one of my favourite shades. I think it looks pretty good even if I do say so myself!
So who is this kit for?
Anyone who enjoys a long lasting mani will appreciate this and it's a great way to use up neglected polishes. I think it will be particularly good for nail art... if you're going to all that trouble, may as well make it last! I have quite a lot of SensatioNail colours, but often wished I could give some of my favourite nail polishes the same lasting power - and now I can.
In case you're curious, using gels occasionally hasn't caused my nails any damage... I'm very careful not to over buff and gentle with removal, both of which help. I'm also religious about hand cream and cuticle oil and do give my nails a break between polish (regular and gel).
SensatioNail Polish to Gel Transformer Starter Kit is available now at Boots.
Fancy trying a kit like this or all sound like too much faff?