Monday, November 26, 2012

Recent NOTD: Sally Hansen Salon Insta Gel Strips

It is finally time for my long promised review of the Sally Hansen gel strips. Before my Hawaii trip, I bought a starter kit, which includes a cute little LED lamp, gel polish strips, gel top coat, two cleanser wipes, a mini cuticle stick, and a mini buffer/file. The starter kits come in a choice of three colors: light pink, red, and wine. I chose the light pink, Shell We Dance, since I'd never used these before and if they were going to chip, I wanted a color that wouldn't show it too much.



Because this was my first time, I read and mostly followed the directions (I skipped the part about buffing my nail surface because I don't think that helps my peelies one bit). Applying the strips was just like applying the non-gel ones. The one surprise was how sheer these were; I expect that's a function of the color rather than a characteristic of all of the gel strips. Like the regular strips, these are packed in two sealed packs; my nails were short enough that I could cut them in half and get a whole mani out of just one of the packs. The instructions say to apply the strips to all nails, doing the thumbs last, before moving on to the next step. That next step is the gel top coat, which you apply to one nail, including wrapping the tip of the free edge, then put your finger in the lamp (which is only big enough for one finger anyway) and press the button on top. The light comes on and feels a little bit warm, then shuts off by itself after 30 seconds. After all nails have been in the lamp, they're oddly sticky, but that's where the cleanser pad comes in. A swipe of that takes away the sticky feeling. When I was done, I could see a few spots where it looked like I hadn't smoothed the strip down quite firmly enough, and another couple where I'd gotten the product on my skin‐the color blended in so well with my palesness it was hard to spot the problems, though. Overall, it just looked clean and shiny, and so much more conservative than my usual nail looks.







On the first full day I wore these strips, I lost control of my pen at work and drew an ugly black line on one of my nails. When it didn't rub off with a tissue, I was annoyed that I'd have to redo that nail, but then I remembered there were alcohol wipes in the first aid kit and one of those took the ink right off. Whew!

After 6 days of wear, I was seeing what looked like tipwear on a few fingers, but on closer inspection, that was due to my old nemesis Mr. Peelies. The strips that were on nails that weren't peeling looked just fine.



After 12 days of wear, the most noticeable issue was the widening gap at the base of my nail due to growth. The strips themselves were hanging in, not lifting or chipping (except where the nail underneath them was flaking off due to the aforementioned peelies). Considering I'd spent some of those days swimming around in salt water or pool water, I was even more impressed.



After 14 days, I couldn't make myself wait any longer to take them off; the gap was really starting to bother me. Here's my right hand just before I removed the strips; I'm showing this because you may be able to see some fine cracks in the strip on my middle finger, which I got when I jammed that nail into something (a wall?, a suitcase handle?—I don't recall what exactly) hard enough to bend it and the strip on top so much that it broke. Still, it didn't chip off.



The directions actually recommend the foil method for removal; they don't call it the "foil method", but that's what it is. I went with something new I've read about: the finger cot or finger condom method, which uses rubber finger protectors in place of the foil to hold the acetone-saturated cotton pieces against the nail. It worked great; I let them soak for about five minutes and most of the gel wiped right off. (And the finger condoms didn't disintegrate, either.) The directions talk about pushing the softened gel off with the cuticle stick, but I didn't find that was necessary; I just used a cotton pad and remover clean up the bits that were left after the condoms came off.



Overall, I was very impressed with the wear time on these. They are more expensive to buy and somewhat less convenient to apply than the regular strips (I have put the regular ones on in public places but wouldn't try that with the gel top coat), but for some situations, like a long trip, I'll use them again, as I think they hold up better than the regular strips. Now I'm interested to try some of the designs they have in the gel strips.

25 comments:

  1. Wow great review, Karen! I've been interested in these and I may want to try these out. Your nails looked really nice with the strips on! It looked natural :) I can't wait to see what the design gel strips will look like!

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  2. Great review! This was super helpful and I will definitely be trying these out next time I go on vacation (my manicure chipped the first day of my vacation - arghh!!!)

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  3. Loved this super informative review. Your idea to use this on your vacation was pure genius!

    I think these are great for occasional use, but I don't like the idea of too much uv exposure, so would not use these regularly.

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  4. Fantastic review! Thanks, Karen!

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  5. Very interesting! I wonder if they will be coming to Australia anytime soon)

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  6. Cool! I've been curious about these, and now I want to try them even more. :)

    also lol finger condoms... :B

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  7. Wow! I am really impressed too! :D

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  8. Thanks for the review! This looks really cool. And oh my goodness, the lamp is so cute :D

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  9. Both of these are very interesting! I havent seen either of these. How much are both products?

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    1. Sorry for the late reply, Micki. The gel strips starter kit was between $25 and $30; I used a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond (mine is one with a health & beauty section). A pack of the gel strips by itself is around $15. The finger protectors were around $5 for the box of 30.

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  10. These are interesting and they look so natural.

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  11. LOLOLOLOL dying at these finger condoms!

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  12. great review...those strips worked really well for extended wear like holidays!

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  13. That's a really informative and great review, thanks for sharing!

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  14. The finger condoms are hilarious! Had me in absolute stitches :P

    The gel strips are incredible! I can't believe they lasted so long. You could even add on a reversed half moon to cover the gap and make them last even longer.

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  15. These get strips look great! I wonder if wear time would be less with bright or dark ones, more noticeable tip wear? But this shade looks really nice!

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  16. Just so you know the gel strips are exactly the same product as the regular nail polish strips (check out the ingredients lists!). So you can do a regular SOG overlay on any nail polish strip product to extend the wear.

    Great review!

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  17. Whoa.... I think I need some finger condoms for polish removal.

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  18. I am big time impressed that this lamp cured gel really did last this long. I have a UV lamp I bought before they came out with the LED ones - I have wanted to get an LED because they are .. well not UV light but could not justify the cost of one - maybe I will opt for this - but kind of a drag it only does one nail at a time...I am lazy and want to get done fast! love the finger protectors - I have seen these for yrs and used them when I lost 2 fingernails in the 80's from a bad fungal infection - never thought about using them for gel and even glitter polish removal - surprised the remover does not turn the 'condoms' to jell themselves!

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    1. i just wanted to ask you if you can use the UV lamp with the strips, instead of the LED lamp

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    2. Diana, I only have this one LED lamp so I'm not sure. I've read that you can use UV lamp in place of LED one but not the other way around.

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  19. Thanks for this review! They sound great if I can ever get myself back to the point where I'm not bored with my polish after a day. ;)

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  20. great review! i have never tried gel strips but think they would be handy on vacation. i might try these well, if i ever get a vacation. haha. :)

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  21. I giggled at the little finger condoms :D! Other than that, this product looks interesting. Though I am wondering, they are regular nailstrips with a gel product you have to apply over it.. wouldn't it work the same with regular strips and a random gel topcoat?

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  22. I'm still so on the fence with these, I just don't know. It's so expensive to start out.

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