This package was sitting on my counter for several days. First, because I had received a deluge of packages after some frenzied Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping. Second, because the system looked so complicated. All those tiny bottles! What purpose did they serve? Finally, after sitting down twice to attempt a manicure, I realized that I was missing some basic tools--like a nail file, or a cuticle pusher. I finally hoofed it over to Sephora to buy a nail kit (review soon) and sat down to delve the byzantine mysteries of this manicure kit.
Included are: an LED light (apparently this is different from the UV-type lights that they use in salons; unclear which will cause more finger cancer), a bottle of pre/post-application cleanser, a bottle of remover, a nail-polish type bottle of cuticle oil, a nail-polish type bottle of nail prep, a bottle of base coat, a bottle of top coat, and a bottle of gel polish in bright red. Also included is a nifty little pamphlet that includes all the instructions.
I'll save you the detailed step-by-step process, but everything was clearly labelled and the directions were simple to follow, so with the exception of one snafu where I had my fingers too close together when under the light and the nail polish on one nail fused to the skin of another finger, everything went smoothly. One thing I noticed was that the gel nail polish was easier to remove from the skin/cuticles than normal nail polish. Of course, you must do all of that before you cure it under the light. Another small issue I had was some minor "shrinking" by the nail polish. I would paint my nail fully, but after I had finished with the hand, some of the nails would show a sliver of nail edge. The best analogy is like when you are rolling out pizza crust and after a few seconds the pizza crust will shrink. I fixed this by painting the edges a bit more, but this creates a sort of uneven texture. I think this will get better with practice.
Furthermore, the light is a bit small, meaning you can't fit your entire hand in there. The instructions suggest to cure four fingers at a time, and then cure the two thumbs paint the nails to the edges, but after a few minutes the nail polish would shrink, revealing a sliver of together. I managed to save 45 seconds by curing four fingers on one hand and sticking the thumb of my other hand on top of my fingers (but not my nails). All in all, the manicure took me about 30-40 minutes to complete. Not bad when you factor in travel/waiting time at a salon.
Unlike the nail salon process, the polish on my fingers remained tacky and thus untouchable until the final step. Also, sometimes, my fingernails would get a warm tingly sensation from the light. I assume that's just the cancer growing. However, also unlike the nail salon process, I could do the entire manicure pantsless while watching an episode of a terrible (but great!) CW show. The end result was pretty much the same, incredibly shiny nails that I have no fear of ruining by doing something immediately after the manicure. I will have to update this post in a week to let y'all know if there are any chips.
Today, I plan on doing my toes and trying the "gelly sandwich" method espoused by some forums. This way, I can use all of my nail polish collection instead of only purchasing gel nail polish. Hopefully I can post some photos of my nails soon as well!
TL, DR: This manicure kit will pay for itself with only two uses. The results appear to be the same as a gel manicure at a nail salon.