manicures for less $$

One thing that’s true about me is that I always have my nails painted. Always. I can’t remember exactly when this all started but since I can remember I always have made sure that my nails were painted. My box of nail polish grew over the years at an exponential rate and I soon had every shade and style of polish: matte, glitter, neon….you name it, I probably had it.

I love the routine of painting your nails. Sitting down, taking everything out, choosing a color, and then focusing in. Call me crazy, but I even find the process relaxing. During my undergrad at NDSU me and my roommate and best friend Dana used to take study breaks at our kitchen island to paint our nails, relax, and chat.

Even though I love painting my nails, there is one thing that I grew to really dislike about it. I would always be extremely focused when painting my nails and always wanted to make them as perfect as possible. I am very detailed and slow. I always loved how my nails looked when I was done but usually within 48 hours I was mad. I would look down and one or two nails would be chipped, the paint got smudged while they were still drying (which takes FOREVER), or one of the many other problems that can happen.

I sometimes get pedicures at the nail salon but historically have never spent time/money getting my nails done since I liked to do them myself. When I was in a friend’s wedding in September of 2016 I decided to splurge and spend the money to get a gel manicure with the color she had chosen for us for the wedding. I was IN LOVE. The polish looked amazing and I loved that they were my natural nails and nothing acrylic or fake. I spent weeks just WAITING for something bad to happen to them (chips/cracks) and nothing did. I told myself there was no way I could go back to regular nail polish after experiencing gel. But there was one big problem….

Money. I couldn’t justify (or afford) to get my nails done for 40 dollars (or more!) a visit. Even though the gel polish lasted a long time it still wasn’t going to be do-able for me. On TV around that same time I remember seeing an ad for gel lamps and gel polish you could buy in the store. I remember being very interested and checking in to it right away. I brought up the at home gel kits to a few different people and lo and behold I received an at home gel lamp for my birthday as a gift in November 2016!

Then began the 2nd era of my nail polish life…..AMAZING gel nail polish nails at home for so cheap it’s ridiculous. All thanks to the Sensationail gel lamp, starter kit, and nail polish selections. Below is a picture of the style of lamp I have. Mine was purchased at Target but you can find it at Walmart and probably places like CVS too (or Amazon, as always!). The one at Target is located right in the nail polish aisles so very easy to find.

The best part about this is the price….the lamp itself starts around $23, depending on where you decide to buy. You’ll also need to buy some polish colors and the base/top coat to get you started but you’re looking at an investment of less than 40 dollars (the cost of ONE manicure at the nail salon) to have an at home manicure set-up.


Now when I paint my nails at home with the gel kit and lamp it takes about 15-20 minutes to complete the process. After I’m done with the gel top coat and seal it under the lamp my nails are dry in vritually seconds and you can rinse them in the sink to get them clean and then you’re off. No sitting around waiting for polish to dry, just to have it get wrecked anyway.

Also, I used to have to paint my nails about every week and now it’s more like once every 3 weeks, unless I want to change the color sooner. The polish is also very easy to remove which I know is something people are worried about with gel. They provide you with some foil strips where you can soak your fingers in acetone to remove while wrapped in the foil, but often I can just peel mine right off after a couple of weeks without any difficulty at all.

Here is the manicure I did this weekend. I am loving the wine/burgundy color that is nice and rich for winter.

If you love the look of gel but are tired of spending all the money…or if you’re sick of painting your nails with classic polish and having to re-do them all the time….this is the perfect solution. If you have any specific questions about the product let me know! I’d be more than happy to help.

Have a great week!!


xoxo Jen

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