Sensationail DIY Gel Nails Review (Part 1)

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 1 - 2012

Remember my post a couple of weeks ago about bringing salon-style beauty to the comfort of your own home? I wasn’t convinced that DIY options generally lived up to the expectations or convenience of salon service. Well, the people at Sensationail rose to the challenge and sent me the Sensationail Starter Kit* to give it a whirl for myself. I’ll do the review in two-parts, today is the application and initial results and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to let you know how the manicure lasted.

I should also preface this by saying that I’ve had two gelish/shellac-type exeriences in a salon and both were poor, with lifting after only a few days. That’s Groupon on for you I guess? Basically, I’ll admit that my expectations aren’t all that high.

The kit is frankly over-priced at £85 in the UK. Over-priced? I hear you say. Yes, not because it’s lacking in quality (although the bottles I received did have the writing peeling off them and the labels weren’t fully stuck down which didn’t give the best impression of quality) but because in the U.S., our neighbours across the pond are charged $59.99 for the same kit. That’s around £35.

Cross-border rip-offs aside, in theory – you should still be able to break even fairly easily with this kit against the cost of getting your nails done in a salon. The average price in my area for shellac/gelish nails is around £22 – so you’re looking at around 5 manicures before you get your money’s worth. Which is all well and good, providing the kit lives up to its name and actually provides a good quality gel nail that lasts the course.

I’ll admit that application was indeed, very simple and didn’t cause a single problem for me. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, the lamp worked just as it should (although I did wonder how I was going to fit all five fingers and thumbs inside until I read that you er, don’t).

In the starter kit, you receive: an LED curing lamp, gel cleanser (basically an alcohol solution), gel primer (nail dehydrator/bonder), gel base/top coat, gel colour, and some lint-free swabs.

Following the instructions, from start-to-finish, I was completed in around 30-minutes and the nails were completely bone dry at the end of it. The beauty of the UV-activated gel is that you have ample time to get your manicure applied neatly, my biggest tip would be to keep the coats as thin as possible. The base/top coat in particular had a tendency to pool in my cuticles while I was completing the other nails, not really a fault of the system… simply a sign that my coats were not thin enough.

If you do get some gel on your skin, make sure you wipe it off before curing…. not only will it feel pretty uncomfortable with this hard resin stuck to your skin but it will also cause your manicure to prematurely lift at the edges.

Here’s my finished result… basically, it looks and feels great.

I’m going to embed a tutorial video which I found on the Boots website, you may notice that she hasn’t capped the tips of her nails with the polish (you can see this at the end) – this is a pretty crucial step when it comes to making gel nails last. If you want them to stay the distance, you need to take a little more time to ensure that you’ve bullet-proofed your manicure.

I haven’t been able to fault the application process but the bottles in the starter kit are tiny and feel/look cheap. The UK price hike is outrageous. Ultimately, my final thoughts on Sensationail’s worth will come down to how long this manicure lasts on me. I’ll be back with an update soon, but hopefully not too soon eh?

Check out the brand’s UK Facebook page for more information, they’re also active on Twitter (something this Twitter-addict always likes to see!)

You can purchase the Sensationail Starter Kit instore and online at, priced at £85.00 (individual colour gels are priced at £15.00 each)

* press sample

20 Responses to “Sensationail DIY Gel Nails Review (Part 1)”

  1. This country really does take the p on it’s prices. I would like to try but I refuse to pay that much in the first place, might get someone to send over for me from USA!!!

  2. robyn says:

    What a gip! I hate price hikes like that. I’m really interested to see how this lasts but even if it does, I think I’d still rather have the occasional mani treat overall!

  3. Anna says:

    I’m so excited to find out how this lasts on you! I’ve been eyeing one up since I heard about them (I think, on here!) but holding back on the purchase because I hadn’t seen it on any UK blogs yet with a full review. You’re right, it is v. expensive over here (what isn’t?) but I should still save money quite quickly compared to my monthly manicures. Thank you for such an in-depth review!

  4. Katrina says:

    My husband bought me one of these sets for my birthday and I loved it.. until it came to removal time. It was such a bitch to get off! On their website it says you can skip the gel primer to make it easier to remove, so I’ll be doing that next time. My manicure lasted about 10 days and I didn’t cap them properly (whoops).

  5. toyboys says:

    I guess the pricing is probably fixed against average salon prices for a mani and given those are about 3 times as expensive in the UK as they are in the US, it kind of makes sense even though it does indeed stink.

    As I think I said last time, I don’t need the kind of rubbish shaky polish job I’m capable of to last more than about the hour or so it takes me to remove it in disgust. I’ve had one Shellac mani done which I’m planning to blog about at some point and was extremely impressed – it lasted 2 and a half weeks before I removed it (I don’t like long nails). But it left my nails in a frightful state – soft and peeling.

  6. Louise says:

    I think I would get bored of the same colour after a few days but I suppose if you wanted it to last while you were on holiday or something it could be good it’s just not for me I think.

  7. Pretty! I have the Red Carpet Manicure gel nails kit, and I’m quite happy with it – I’m curious to find out what you think of this one!

  8. Sophie says:

    I wuld really like to try this out. I have never had a gel manicure but I love the idea that it is doable at home. I look forward to hearding how it went for you.

  9. Sydney says:

    I adore the concept of this but will hold out to see your results before I fork out that kinda cash.
    Also, why is it we are forced to pay more than double what our cousins across the pond pay? Totally out of order *stamps feet*

  10. Lucy says:

    Interested to see the results of this…but annoyed about more than double the price of the US, what’s even the reasoning of that?!

  11. euro says:

    Your nails look so perfect!
    I was searching for DIY starter kits and found this one to be the best mainly because of the LED lamp that would be useful even if the product turns out to be crappy and of course the price in US was great, unfortunately i was not able to find a store that would ship to Europe .
    So i checked if it sells in UK.. and oh dear 85 GBP.. seriously? it costs almost 3 times more..
    In my country these kind of manicures are not so expensive 10- 20 EUR (5 EUR to remove) so it would be OK to get then now and then , but i am just so scared of fungus an other stuff. Seriously it is all i can think about during my appointments..

  12. Jade says:

    I was the same as you over the price hike! However, after proper application it did indeed last 2 weeks on me and only chipped at that point because i sort of picked at an edge. (I think colour boredom will be the decider for most people however you can paint over and remove with non-acetone varnish) I can also vouch for the fact that it works with other gels that cure via LED, currently sporting a neon Gelish polish because on ebay they are cheaper than buying sensationail in Boots, the rest of the kit works great with other gel brands too.

  13. Annette says:

    I have this kit and I love it.

    1.) the polish easily lasts the two weeks- its only regrowth and wanting a change that prompt me to redo
    2.) it costs £60 from tesco and asda
    3.) they are brining out the French manicure, until then though I’ve been using white wrap around tips by elegant touch, I put these on first, then use the kit ( only using the clear base polish) exactly the same, and I absolutely love the result- I will never pay £30 for acrylics again
    4.) my job is very active, I certainly out these to the test, and am basically telling everyone, bcos even if you do still treat yourself to a salon manicure, this is great for protecting your nails I between!

    I use to bite my nails since childhood, I’m 28 now, it’s only having acrylics, or these gels on that stop me- I love it!

    Only downside is you need to get a friend in to paint your weak hand, or get better at it yourself- hardly a big downside

    Enjoy xxx

  14. Annette says:

    Oooo I forgot to say, I read yday that you can paint normal polishes on top of a sensationail polish once cured for if you fancy a change inbetween, I haven’t tried this, and am unlikely to, but just so you know!xx

  15. TrishB says:

    In the US, this kit is even cheaper at Walmart, selling for $49.99 there. I spent the $59.99 since I really dislike WallyWorld. Yes, it’s a great system, even without the colors. Last year, I had a six month course of Accutane for my 40-plusish acne, and my nails are now very weak and prone to large chips and divots. I generally go with the standard base/top with a layer of sheer pink in between, and later follow up with standard nail polish as the nails grow out. Works beautifully and with the gel as a base, my nails look almost-fake perfect, but I still change the color as the whim strikes me. Sorry to necromance this older comment thread.

  16. Donnaj says:

    I was just reading your reviews as i am thinking about getting this starter kit but i just wanted to let you know that on the Sensationail official website the starter kit is £60 but u also recieve a free full size nail polish of your choice and free delivery if that helps.

  17. liz says:

    it is cheaper to buy direct from sensationails own website. you recieve an extra polish & a bag to store the nail kit in. also check the web for discount codes, i did & got a extra 10% off. this bring the total for the kit £54 & free delivery.

  18. Bernadette says:

    £85!?? Where from!?? I got mine for Xmas for £60. It’s £60 if you order direct from Asda or Tesco. It’s even better to order from the Sensationail website for £60 including an extra full sized gel colour polish of your choice. You’ll be lucky to find a good LED lamp on it’s own for £60, let alone a starter kit!! The next cheapest starter kit with an LED lamp is £90 from Red Carpet. I have had gelish manicures from a salon a few times and i’m lucky if it’s not peeling within 1 week. With Sensationail, and doing it myself, it lasted almost 2 weeks, I highly recommend it

  19. test says:

    The separates kit from sensationail website doesnt give an extra coloured polish for free, its just a larger version of the colout gel than you would get in the boxed kits, and you have a much wider choicebof colours if you buy this way. Mine arrived today and I love it so far. Havent seen how long it will last or how much of a chore removal is yet though.

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