With the current economic state of the world, we all work so hard to provide food and security to our loved ones. This hectic lifestyle has often prevented us from indulging ourselves with the simple pleasures of life. One of these pleasures we rarely experience nowadays is getting a manicure from a salon, which fades after a week or two and must be redone. This constant maintenance is too much of a hassle especially for work-a-holics. Fortunately, a new technology in the nail industry has been developed called gel nail kits.
Application of gel nail polish
Gel nail kits are a little bit more complicated than your regular nail polish which is made from acrylic. A gel nail kit includes a primer, a colored polish, a top coat, a cleanser, and a UV lamp. Like applying an acrylic nail polish, the preliminary steps in using a gel nail kit is preparing the nails. They must be trimmed first if necessary, then they are filed and buffed. Afterwards, the cuticles must be pushed back to maximize the surface of the nail to be covered by the polish. The nails must then be cleaned with the cleanser and they are now ready for the application of the gel.
Every brand has a different way of application so watch out for extra instructions before putting on the gel. However, all of them has a similar final step in which the polish has to be exposed to a lamp usually included in the kit. The UV lamp can be in the form of a traditional light bulb or an LED lamp. Usually, once the gel has dried, a thin residual layer is seen, referred to as the “inhibition layer”. This is removed by wiping it off with an alcohol-soaked fabric. A high concentration of alcohol is typically used to rid the nail of the inhibition layer. To remedy the malnourishment of the cuticle due to the alcohol, cuticle oil can be put on the fingernails.
What does the UV lamp do to a gel nail polish?
In general, the application of UV lamp is the most crucial part of applying gel nail polish, if not the most important. It creates all the difference between the regular nail polish and the gel. Upon exposure to ultraviolet, the gel undergoes a chemical process called UV curing.
The energy from the UV light causes the light-sensitive molecules in the gel to break which form free radicals. These then attack the gel’s component molecules causing a process called polymerization to initialize. This is a process where monomer molecules form polymer chains, which are very strong bonds in the molecular level. The finished product is a hard, compact, and chemical-resistant nail polish.
Kinds of gel nail polish
Gel nail polish comes in two kinds: hard gel and soft gel. Hard gels, like its name, is a tough when it dries in a way that it can be used as a nail extension. These are artificial nails made to extend past the edge of the natural nail. These are very useful for the people who do not only want to give their nails a new color and shine, but also want them longer and more elegant.
On the other hand, soft gels are used on the nails only. This is too soft to create an extension to the natural nail. This type of gel nail polish is the more common of the two since it is also very gentle to the nail without compromising the quality and durability. This lasts for at least a couple of weeks without chipping, fading, or cracking.
Top 6 Best gel nail starter kits
There are numerous gel nail starter kits on the market so it may be tricky to find the best one for you. To make it easy for you to choose the right gel nail for you, here are the best gel nail starter kits currently on the market.
1. Modelones Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit
This starter kit includes a gel polish beginner kit, a 6 W gel nail dryer, 6 color gels and one base top coat set, and a manicure kit. The gel polish beginner set includes a gel polish, nail dryer, and nail manicure tools to finish the nails with while the dryer includes a folding lamp and a USB port charger for portability.
The preliminary step in applying any gel nail polish is to trim, file, and buff the nails. Then cuticles should be pushed back. These can all be done with the tools provided in the kit. Then the bottle must be rubbed between your hands. This is a very important step to warm it up with both the rubbing and the inherent heat from the hand of the user.
A thin coat of the base polis must be applied first, and then dried under the UV lamp for about one minute, or under the LED light for 30 seconds. If necessary, a second coating can be applied. The gel polish should then be applied thinly and cured under the UV lamp for two minutes, or on the LED light for 30 seconds. If the color is not strong enough, reapply until the desired color effect is achieved. After drying, the topcoat must then be applied and dried under the UV lamp for a minute and under the LED light for 30 seconds.
To ensure that the Modelonesgem nail polish will last long, it is recommended to follow the directions to a tee, especially applying the coat thinly since a thick coating might cause the formation of bubbles in the gel and the UV light will react differently to it.
2. Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit – Azure Beauty
The Azure Beauty Deluxe gel polish starter kit includes a manicure kit, a 24 W nail lamp, a base and a top coat, and 3 colors of gel polish. The application of the Azure Beauty kit is the same as Gellen’s starter kit.
The real strength of Azure Beauty is in its nail dryer which has a built-in timer for 30- or 60-second drying. You can just put your nails in the dryer while you do something else in the background. Moreover, the lamp is designed with dual lights with both LED and UV which is efficient and suitable for all kinds of nail gels. A 24-W lamp also means that the drying will take less time than with the usual 6-W UV lamps provided for other kits.
3. Gellen Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit
This starter kit includes 4 types of gel nail polish, a 24 W nail lamp, a top and base coat, a manicure kit, and a pad of nail art rhinestones. This kit is for the more adventurous crowd since it allows you to further customize your nail art with the rhinestones.
The application of Gellen gel nail polish is very easy. After the preliminary preparations, similar to the Modelones kit, a base coat is applied and then cured with UV lamp for one minute or the LED lamp for 30 seconds. Then a thin coat of polish is applied and then dried under the UV lamp for 2 minutes or the LED lamp for 30 to 60 seconds. If necessary, a second or a third coat can be applied. Make sure to dry the polish after every coating under the UV lamp or the LED lamp for the same amount of time as the first coating.
After fully drying the gel polish, the top coat can be applied. This will again be dried under the UV lamp for the same amount of time. Residue is removed by wiping the nails with rubbing alcohol.
To remove the Gellen gel nail polish, first, a cotton swab is soaked in acetone. This swab must be wrapped around each nail for approximately 10 minutes. If the gel has not softened completely, leave the soaked swab for a few more minutes. At this point, the softened gel can be easily removed using a cuticle pusher.
4. Gelish Harmony Complete Starter Led Gel Nail Polish Kit
The Gelish Harmony gel nail polish starter kit is a little bit more costly but it is worth every penny. This kit includes the Gelish Basix kit, a manicure kit, the LED light (the wattage rating of the LED lamp was not indicated), and 6 colors of gel, viz. Gossip Girl, June Bride, Pink, Dear Johnny, Plum, and Done.
The application of Gelish Harmony is the same as our first two starter kits with each coat drying for 30 seconds under the LED lamp and 2 minutes under the UV lamp. The removal of his gel nail polish can be done for only 10-15 minutes with a cotton swab soaked in acetone.
5. CLAVUZ Polish Lacquer Starter Manicure
This starter kit includes the following: 5 colors of gel, a base coat and a top coat, a 36-W UV lamp, and a manicure kit. This is one of the affordable starter kits in the market but don’t let its price fool you. The Clavuz gel nail polish will still give your nails a long-lasting shine.
To apply, after the preliminary cleaning of the nails, the base coat, gel polish, and top coat will be applied thinly in order. The coating must be dried under the UV lamp for 2 minutes before applying another coating. A second gel polish can be applied after the first if deemed necessary.
With the Clavuz kit, the gel polish will be removed if necessary after soaking the polish with acetone for only 3-5 minutes. The nail enamel can easily be ripped off the nail once its softened enough.
6. Coscelia Colors Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit
The Coscelia gel polish contains a manicure kit, a 24-W LED nail dryer, a top and a base coat, 5 colors of gels, and 18 pcs of nail art tools and accessories. The LED lamp included in this kit also has a built-in timer setting for a more efficient use of power for the lamp.
The application of Coscelia gel nail polish starts with the same preliminary process of trimming, filing and buffing the nails. The nail polish will then be shaken in order to balance the color throughout the bottle. Then the coating is applied in the following order: base coat, first layer of gel, second layer of gel (if necessary), top coat. Each coat has to be dried under the UV lamp for 2 minutes or the LED lamp for 60 seconds. Lastly, the residual polish is removed with cotton soaked in cleanser.
Benefits and advantages of gel nail polish
The main advantage of gel nail as mentioned previously is its durability. It can last for up to three weeks or more with no signs of peeling, or cracking. In its duration, it also keeps its shine unlike a regular nail polish which fades after some time.
Upon application, regular nail polish takes about one to two hours before being completely dry. This can be a major annoyance especially for people who are always on the run. Gel nail polish can be dried for as low as 5-10 seconds depending on the wattage rating of the UV lamp to be used.
In terms of quality, it has been reported by many users that gel nail leaves a glossier finish than the regular nail polish. Moreover, the shine actually holds and does not fade. Gel nail is also more flexible providing the nails better protection when the accidentally whacked against a surface, unlike the nail polish which creates a hard shell over the nail. The gel nail when whacked will take the majority of the force and will crack, but most of the time will not break.
Gel nail polish is also a healthier option for your nails since you will have to reapply less often. Moreover, gel nails can be applied to people who are allergic to acrylic or nail resin. Overall, gel nail polish has a lot of benefits and advantages over the regular nail polish.
Disadvantages of gel nail polish
The main concern for gel nail polish is its cost. It is more expensive than the traditional manicures, which is reasonable since it requires less reapplication. It is also a bit more complicated to self-apply so users opt to go to professional salons to have them done which cost them a little bit more. And lastly, gel nail polish is a little bit harder to remove than the regular nail polish.
There is no one brand that fits all for gel nail polish starter kits. There will always be pros and cons to each of them. For example, if the budget is tight, one might opt to choose to buy the Clavuz gel nail polish starter kit but if a nail lamp dryer with a timer system is needed, an Azure Beauty or a Coscelia kit can be bought instead. There are other factors to be considered such as the number of available colors of gel offered, the quantity of each coat, and others. However, if a beginner in the world of gel nails wishes to buy a starter kit, they can never go wrong with buying any of the brands aforementioned.