Okay, here it goes. For the past five months or so, I’ve been keeping a big secret. Make that two big secrets.
The first — I’m pregnant with a little girl, due this July! But that isn’t the really big one (though of course, it’s amazing and I’m thrilled!). The really big one is my super secret amazing beauty find and my I-can’t-live-without-it-EVER-from-now-on: the first at home gel nail polish manicure brand called Red Carpet Manicure.
Seriously, Red Carpet Manicure should go down in beauty history books as the most amazing nail invention for do-it-yourself-ers like me. It may not be for everyone (it’s time intensive), but it’s certainly right for me.
Ever since I fell in love with Shellac and Gelish gel nail polish in salons, I was searching for a way to do it myself at home so I didn’t have to spend around $40 a pop for each salon manicure. I have what you’d call “special” nails that only really keep the gel polish on for a week and a half or two weeks without needing to be redone (some people can go a full month), and I just couldn’t justify the recurring cost. However, I loved that I didn’t have to worry about polish chips or nail breakage for a full two weeks, so I wanted to keep it up.
Enter Red Carpet Manicure (aka the gel nail polish system of my dreams).
Sold at Ulta stores nationwide, Red Carpet Manicure has all the tools and polishes you need to get your own long-lasting gel manicure at home. The folks at the brand generously sent me the Starter Kit ($59.00) to get me on my way, and that’s when I became hooked and ran to my nearest Ulta for more.
If you’ve never tried the system before, I definitely recommend beginning with the Starter Kit, which comes complete with:
- A battery-operated portable LED light
- Erase, an acetone-based polish remover
- Purify, a pre- and post- application cleanser (this is basically rubbing alcohol)
- Revitalize, nourishing cuticle oil
- Prep, which you apply on natural nails for maximum adhesion
- Structure, the base-coat gel
- Red Carpet Reddy, a bright red gel nail polish
- Brilliance, the top-coat gel
The only thing you really need to have otherwise is an emery board so you can gently buff/scratch the surface of your nails to help with adhesion before you begin.
How to Apply Gel Nail Polish:
In all, the application is very easy. It is just a little time consuming, because you must do your four fingers, then your thumbs, and then your other four fingers.
- You begin by removing all nail polish so you are starting with your clean, natural nail.
- Then buff your nails as I mentioned above. No need to go to town and really scratch them up. A couple of swipes across each nail is fine.
- Soak a cotton ball or pad with Purify and swipe across nails.
- Apply Prep to your nails. It is basically alcohol and dries instantly, so no need to keep applying to make them look wet.
- Brush on a thin coat of Structure. When I say thin, I mean thin, because if you get too much on, it is heavy and will pool on the sides of your nails, breaking the seal when it is dry, and the whole thing will peel right off (been there, done that).
- Cure in the portable light for 1 minute.
- Then brush on your gel nail polish (Red Carpet Reddy comes with the Starter Kit).
- Cure in the portable light for 3 minutes.
- You can repeat a second coat of the gel nail polish if you’d like, though the darker shades are fairly opaque, so one coat can cut it.
- Brush on a thin coat of the Brilliance top coat.
- Cure in the portable light for 2 minutes.
- Soak another cotton ball with Purify and remove any leftover tacky residue on nails.
The first time I did this, it was super easy…but LONG. The second time was even longer, because I first had to remove all of the gel nail polish. It’s actually a quite amusing process for onlookers (like my husband), because you have to soak individual cotton balls/pads with Erase (or just acetone polish remover), apply one to each nail, secure them by wrapping each nail with tin foil, and then wait 10-15 minutes. Beauty is never pretty at first, is it? Anyway, then you remove the foil and cotton and scrape off the gel polish using a cuticle stick.
I also couldn’t resist and picked up a few new LED Gel Polish colors.
I love them all!
One word to the wise, though — the light colors like “Candid Moment” seem to go on so sheer that they look like you’re only putting on a clear coat of polish with a teeeeeeny tiny hint of pink. I figured that out the hard way after thinking I had a defective bottle and returning it for another light shade, which did the same thing. However, now I love using the light color, because it serves as a good base, and then I can get creative and use my beloved China Glaze and OPI nail polishes OVER the gel for a custom look, like this sassy number I tried out in honor of St. Patrick’s Day:
In all, I HIGHLY recommend Red Carpet Manicure to anyone who loves gel nail polish, but who likes to save money and have fun trying out different looks at home.
Photos: Anne Houseman/BeautyXpose; Red Carpet Manicure Disclosure