I ultimately bought this incredible red LED gel lamp (and a bunch of other stuff ?) from The NaiI Hub. It isn’t clear who the manufacturer of this lamp is; it lacks branding, and I’m not entirely sure if The Nail Hub is claiming this as one of their products. Either way, frankly, I don’t care because it is excellent. My experience has been nothing but positive since I started using it in July.
Curing My Gel Manicures
For years, I’ve been using Sensationail lamps to cure my gel manicures. They’re what I started with! Eventually, I added their newer model lamp to my nail tool collection. After a couple bad cures with good formulas, though, I started to wonder if it was time for a change. I suspect the LEDs weren’t getting enough power, and here could be plenty of reasons for this:
The micro USB cable I used to supply power to it could be bad.
The AC adapter could be bad.
The power relay in the lamp itself could be bad.
Rather than asking my husband to embark on an electronics teardown for diagnostic purposes, I decided to upgrade my lamp game. (I might still ask him for help with that, though – for science, for a backup, for a small travel lamp etc).
Last week, I got what ended up being a highly disappointing dip powder manicure at a salon (siiigh) for my birthday. It was super pretty but something about my nail tech’s application – or maybe the product itself – just didn’t jive; more on that another time. Frustrated, after I removed the (fun, pretty, summery) product, I opted to clothe my naked digits with a gel polish manicure. I knew I wanted pink but I didn’t want to go full neon and go for China Glaze Shocking Pink (wore it recently, is great, just not how I was feeling at the time).
So – I’m having a bit of a grapefruit moment. I can think of nothing but palomas even though I am a space cadet and keep forgetting to buy some damn grapefruit when I’m at the store.
Gorgeous, right? Check out Preppy Kitchen, John makes some cute and tasty looking stuff!
I’m going to go a bit out of order and talk about my pedicure first. Like most of the neon-adjacent pearls, Pink Plumeria is gorgeous but slightly annoying to apply. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for China Glaze to update their traditional brushes to be more in line with modern brushes. That meant I had to redo a few toes more than once to get everything to lay right, not streak, etc. The color is so lovely that its worth it, though. On my toes, I did a standard application with Gelous Gel Coat base coat and Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. They look great, just like the the first time I used it for a pedicure and snapped a photo:
Polish to Gel Application
On my fingers, I made a Polish to Gel cocktail. I played with the ratios a bit and ended up with probably 2-3 drops Pink Plumeria to 1 drop Polish to Gel, but it’s worth noting that the gel’s drop-size was larger due to the larger brush. Either way, it applied beautifully this way; I didn’t entirely expect this, but the gel really helps mitigate the quirks of the neon-pearl polish. It cured nicely in spite of my tampering.
And look at how magnificent it came out! I kinda think I want to just turn the entire bottle into a franken-gel. It was so much nicer to work with, and its beauty isn’t compromised at all in this format. It is fantastic on my skin tone (which is less obvious in the picture below; for some reason the polish presents accurately, but my skin did not) and even though its a bit bright, I don’t think it would be, “too much,” for most workplaces.
China Glaze Pink Plumeria & Sensationail Polish to Gel
China Glaze Diva Bride in their Gelaze formula might have dethroned as my go-to nude-pink nailcolor. I’d been wearing a lot of OPI Bubble Bath; it’s a nice, effortless neutral that looks good with everything. As it wears down/away/lifts/chips, it does so gracefully and without making it glaringly obvious that attention is required. I enjoyed it apart from three caveats
Coats to Opaque-Enough
OPI Gelcolor lacquers are technically pro-only – so getting your hands on one as a plebe is a difficult task if you don’t know a licensed beautician. I have no idea how much they cost a pro; I know on the diverted market I can get them for anywhere between $15-20, and then there’s the question of whether you’re getting legit product or not (I’ve lucked out so far). It requires three coats to the minimum level of opacity I prefer.
China Glaze Diva Bride Mitigates Bubble Bath’s Caveats
A few months ago, a commenter asked if I had tried Sensationail Express Gel ($6) At the time, I had not yet heard of the product and was left baffled.
About Express Gel
Express Gel, which first launched in the UK, seems similar in concept to their ill-received Fuse product. Sensationail Express Gel claims to be a base coat and top coat free product featuring no cleansing. It supposedly requires less application effort than China Glaze’s Gelaze product.
Sensationail Express Gel may be cured with their old or new LED lamp and cure times are similar to their classic product. Cure times may vary slightly from color to color, so be sure to check the packaging. Sensationail suggests that darker colors may take longer to cure.