I’m completely new, to this whole gel nail thingy! Honestly… prettying up nails in this way, was so alien to me… you wouldn’t actually believe. It was only when, two of my colleagues… yes two – were sporting these brightly coloured – perfectly manicured nails, that I was introduced to the world of colourful gels!
After watching these guys waltz into the office – showcasing, such beautiful results, time-and-time again… and listening to how amazing this gel stuff was… I was now somehow indoctrinated enough, to be be convinced that this was the next thing I must do! Lord knows how they managed to sway me, because I’m not usually convinced by these kinds of things… but they succeeded – I succumbed and decided to give it a go… on a budget that is!
So, you see, these ladies always go to a professional to have their nails done… likely hence their tremendous results each time. But, you know… me being me – a bit of a tom boy at heart… I decided that I’d probably only ruin them, since I’m so careless with my hands – and that it would work out cheaper, if I just bought the necessary equipment… and did it myself! Honestly… to me, the thought of spending forty-odd quid, to get my nails re-done – each time I messed them up… just wasn’t going to happen!
So, I set a budget and purchased all of the necessary paraphernalia – the LED lamp, the preparation lotions, potions and tools… and of course – the gels. I found that the LED lamps on offer were surprisingly cheap… as were the lotions and tools. I initially purchased the Bella Nails budget lamp, costing only £12.99 from Amazon… and eventually upgraded to the Mylee PRO LED lamp (as seen in photo above), costing somewhere in the region of £35.00. But… the gels on the other hand… well… these were a whole different story!
So, probably like tonnes of other ladies, I suddenly found myself in a bit of a predicament. I knew that I wanted to do these gel nail thingys from time-to-time… and I now had all of the essential equipment to do them. But… and there’s a big but – I was now left having to purchase…. erm – the gel stuff. And… it wasn’t so cheap.
In light of this, I began researching gel nail polish… hoping to sniff out the ideal pocket friendly ones. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised, that it was the extortionately priced brands, that seemed to pop up at the top of google results each time!
So, to cut a long story short, I began weighing up the pros and the cons of expensive versus cheap gel… and how much the staying power of the polish really mattered to me. It didn’t take me long, to come to the conclusion… that I was indeed a novice; and I therefore – should perhaps practise with cheaper gels first ! So, I had a good look around… and I eventually settled, on one of the better selling cheaper brands – also available on Amazon… – – – this was the Beetles Gel polish – in a pack of six.
Okay, so first of all – I will share my findings… quick, sharp and to the point; and once that’s done and dusted, I will share the tips and tricks – that I’ve found to be essential, when attempting to make a cheaper gel work… which it actually can – with a little patients that is : )
- Okay, so the pigment
This was the bizarre part for me. I had a box of six different colours… and I noticed that some of the shades worked beautifully – requiring barely two coats… but then other shades, were unfortunately still a little transparent after the second layer. The shades, such as… the green, orange and burgundy… were great after two coats. The yellow and one of the purples however, did require a third layer. **Just note… that the colour samples on top of these bottles are not very accurate for the orange and burgundy… well – completely off to be fair! They’re all rather pretty autumnal colours though.
Something I noticed when comparing these to my Blue-sky gels, is that that these produce some pulling at the tips of the nails once painted. Meaning that they sometimes magically… kind of elastically, shrink away from the tips of your nails before your eyes! Again, this surprisingly only seemed to happen with a few of the colours. Fear not – we will later discuss how to fix this issue ; )
- The Scent
These gels had a rather chemically strong kind of scent… but certainly not dissimilar to any other gel. In fact – almost an identical smell to my blue-sky polishes.
The Beetle gel set like any other gel under an LED lamp – in sets of thirty and sixty seconds. I noticed that certain shades set smoother than others – my theory is that this must be down to the different formulas and consistencies of each unique colour. I’ve found that some shades work beautifully… some don’t.
- Mixing with other brands
I did actually buy the Blue-sky base and ‘no wipe’ top coat… as recommended by a friend. I found that the Beetles gels worked really well with the Blue-sky bases and tops – bonus.
Okay, so in all honesty – if you’re seeking something that should last you the whole month through – then these gels probably won’t be satisfactory to you. If you’re okay with something that will last anything from around 7 to 14 days though – depending on how you care for them; or, if you’re simply looking for gels to practise with – then these might well be worth a try. I’m still a tad shoddy at applying this stuff, so I’m happy enough with this for now ;P
Okay, so a few quick tips and tricks for preparing and applying these gels…
- No. 1 – thoroughly clean your nails
The important thing to remember, before applying any gel polish, is that if your nails aren’t completely oil free and clean – the gels will not set as well, or last to their full potential. You don’t need all the fancy cleansers (of course please do if you so wish), but to be honest – I usually just grab some baby shampoo and a nail brush – and cleanse my hands this way.
- No. 2 – use a cuticle remover lotion and shape, shape… shape!
Okay, so this one is gold… and not expensive. I absolutely swear by the Sally Hansen – Instant Cuticle Remover, priced around about £5.99 – available in boots, Amazon… Superdrug – wherever. You simply squeeze it onto your cuticles; and after fifteen seconds or so – work it in and push your cuticles back with a cuticle stick. The aim is, to wash the solution off after around a minute… as it can be a tad harsh if left on for too long. A product like this, will basically ensure, that there’s nothing sharp for your gel to cling to – and the over all appearance will be more chic. Just be sure to thoroughly dry your nails after this part.
- No. 3 – shape your nails
This one goes without saying really – but be sure to shape and smooth your nails with a file. Ensure that they’re the desired length and shape before paining. Level out any bumpy bits on the nail plate.
- No. 4 – Base coat
The next step, i’ve been told is essential… so I just do it – it’s the base-coat. It’s meant to improve the longevity of the gel, and boost the over all finish. Unfortunately, I can’t really comment too much on the overall effectiveness of the base, as i’ve never actually done it without… but I’m told that it’s well worth doing! make sure you cure it for thirty seconds upon application.
- No. 5 – first layer of gel
Okay, so for the most exciting part – swiping on your favourite colour and seeing how it turns out! As mentioned above – the first layer is the one that you will want to pay the most attention to – if you want to make these budget gels work.
So, as soon as you swipe on your very first nail… you want to ‘cap’ the nail end – or free edge as the professionals call it – straight away. This basically means to just seal the edge with a little gel – to help prevent the gel from shirking back up the nail – and to also help keep the edges chip-free once set. I can’t stress this one enough – especially for cheaper gels, as it will be the difference between the gel setting nicely – or the edges looking incomplete.
It may be also worth mentioning, that you don’t need to push your paint, right up to the nail edges. What i’ve learnt, is that you’re actually far better off… with a tiny space – to help avoid the gel catching on the skin and then lifting off easily. If it sets on your skin – you will certainly have lift-off!!
- No. 6 – cure with an LED lamp
For the first layer – it’s perfectly fine to cure the gel for thirty seconds… although I personally tend to do it for around 45 seconds – just to be on the safe side!
- No. 7 – second layer of gel and cure
Swipe on your second coat of coloured gel – no need to cap any edges for this layer. Once you’re happy each nail is on neatly enough – cure again for between thirty and sixty seconds. I personally like to cure the second layer for about 45 seconds.
- No. 8 – assess the opacity
Okay, so you’ve nearly finished. But, before slapping on that beautiful glossy top coat… you will need to firstly assess your nails, and decide whether or not you would like a third layer. As i’ve found… you may also find that some colours do need a third layer – and others are already completely opaque by round-two. If they do require a third coat – simply repeat the process again.
- No. 9 – top coat
To be honest, I would always choose the wipe free top coats – it’s just a personal preference – nothing more. I just find that they provide an instantly impressive finish – without having to scrub away any stickiness! You can usually apply your top coat quite sparingly, as i’ve found that a little tends to go a long way. For this part, I would always cure for the full sixty-seconds, as it just seems to ensure that everything stays put.
And that’s it – congratulations… you can now admire your work :p #Autumn ready ; )
So would I re-purchase these gels?
So, in all… after trying Beetles gels a handful of times now – I think my overall opinion of them, is that they’re lots of fun to experiment with; and they’ve certainly helped me to grasp the different techniques for the application of gels. I think that some of the colours are absolutely stunning – especially the purple and orange shades… however, for the purple – I do usually need to apply three coats. For me, when I wear gloves when I’m washing up and take care of them – I can get between 12-14 days out of them. If I’m going about my day without much care (the most likely scenario for me), then they will last me on average 7-8 days.
So, these gels certainly don’t last as long as getting them done professionally – which is around 4 weeks. But, they do provide a quick solution… for getting beautiful looking nails for any occasion… when you just can’t be bothered with all the worry of smudging them. They’re also great for practising with 😉
I would say, that I would purchase these gels again – purely to add additional colours to my collection, or for a quick cheap fix – when craving a different colour. If it was majorly important to me, that they lasted – then I would definitely look into the more expensive alternatives.