After years of not caring about my nails, I’ve recently become a little obsessed with them. I’ve used nail polish for years but have never been 100% satisfied with the results. No matter how long I leave my nails to dry for – normally half an hour, they always seem to smudge. If they don’t smudge, within a few days they always chip. I’ve tried regular polish, long-lasting polish, chip-resistant polish, and, of course, gel-effect polish, but I’ve never had the results my nail nail-obsessed Instagram friends get.
A few weeks ago my mum turned 50, and as part of her birthday preparations she suggested we have a girly day and get our nails done. I’d heard great things about gel nails, so I decided that I’d give them a try. I’d had acrylics before but found they destroyed my nails, so wasn’t keen on having them again. Gel nails, however, I was open to. I loved my nails straight away; they dried instantly, were chip resistant, and looked flawless. However, at £18 a treatment, they didn’t come cheap.
After a few gel manicures, I decided that I wanted my own DIY UV machine. I must have mentioned it to the fiance because a couple of weeks later he surprised me with an at home gel nail starter kit from 3Week Nails. Normally costing just over £250, he got it on sale for just £50 – such a bargain. Promising salon-quality nails and a long-lasting and chip resistant finish, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
The starter kit comes with the following: a UV machine, acetone nail polish remover – for taking off your gel nails, a nail buffer, a nail file, a cuticle pusher, a priming base coat, a no-wipe top coat, and your choice of four gel polishes. With over 200 gel colours to choose from, I must admit I was spoilt for choice. I spent ages browsing them, thinking about the colours I would wear the most, before finally settling on nude pink – Frigid, red – Ravenous, glittery gold – Champagne Lifestyle, and grey – Beau.
What I love about this starter kit, compared to those like Sensationail, is that there’s no priming or cleansing to do. For sleek, flawless nails there’s just five easy peasy steps. The process is simple; first, you buff and shape your nails, then you apply the base coat, cure your nails for two minutes, then apply your first coat of colour, then cure again, then a second colour coat, cure again, and then apply the no-wipe top coat before doing one final cure. In all, it takes no more than 30 minutes for picture-perfect nails that are guaranteed to last three weeks.
Before my first attempt at DIY gel nails, I was a little nervous about how they would go. I knew that the polishes were thicker than normal nail varnish, so wasn’t quite sure how I would deal with that. I was also worried about the dreaded left hand and how I would ensure it was as neat as the right. However, I needn’t of worried as the polishes were so easy to use and not as thick as I was expecting. I even managed a nearly perfect left hand!
I received some great advice from a friend before my first attempt that came in incredibly helpful, so I thought I would share it. Firstly, rough up your nails a little before you start – aka buff the surface so it’s a little rough – this helps the polish to stick. Secondly, watch some YouTube tutorials on capping your nails. Capping is when you apply polish to the free edge of your nail – aka along and slightly under the tip, to help keep your nails from peeling and chipping as easily. It’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen to your hands half an hour before starting your gel application as this helps to protect your skin from the UV lights. (The risk of skin damage is minimal but it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry.)
Because of its light colour, and also the fact that spring is the perfect time for pastel hues, I decided to start off using Frigid to paint my nails. (The idea was that if I got it on my skin it would be less noticeable than a darker colour.) This pretty pink colour is lovely and light and has a very slight shimmer to it which I LOVE. The first coat came out a little too sheer for me, but after the second one had been applied and cured, my nails looked perfect.
If you’re someone who struggles with normal nail polish or loves having their nails professionally done, I would definitely recommend this kit. It’s the simplest one on the market to use, as most of the others require an extra two fiddly steps. Plus, it’s affordable, there are lots of nail shades to choose from, and the polishes are easy to apply – what more could you want?
You can find the 3Week Nail Starter Kit here, along with a lovely range of polish colours to choose from.