Swatch: Gelish Mini Passion

My sweetheart and I will celebrate our SEVEN YEAR anniversary on April 24th! I'll put a detailed post up about it later but if you've been reading this blog for a while you probably know exactly what we're going to do. When it comes to our anniversary we are very traditional and try not to stray too far. I can't believe this will be our last time celebrating an April anniversary since we're getting married in September. Anyway, let's get back to the reason for this post....a swatch of one of my new gel polishes! You know I've been looking for the perfect light pink polish for my friend's wedding and let's just say I couldn't resist buying some gel polishes in some other colors too! This one is by Gelish Mini and is the color "Passion," which is a really fun bright pink that is perfect for the warmer weather in spring and summertime.
Gelish Mini; Gel polish; Passionl nail blog
I cannot tell you how much I love gel polish. It is SO convenient because it has NO dry time. Seriously, you can have a complete manicure in about 15 minutes and you don't have any drying/hardening time. You can't beat it!
The only thing that drove me nuts about this polish was that you could still see some darn visible nail line, despite doing two coats. It wasn't visible ALL the time but in certain light you could definitely see it.
This is a photo that I took without any light source.  Notice how I forgot to cap my index finger? oops! 
See what I'm saying about the visible nail line? It's not so bad but still, very annoying.

My Gel Lamp: Abody UVLED Nail Lamp 9C

If you're interested in DIY-at-home gel manicures (and not the "no-light" sorts of gel) then you probably already know that you MUST use an appropriate light in order to complete the manicure. My brother gifted me this Abody UVLED Nail Lamp 9C this past Christmas and I'm downright giddy to post about it here on the blog because I love it! Here's what it's packaging looks like:
The packaging is really nice and simple. It's easy to read and let's you know all of the important deets: the left bottom corner has little icons and says "sunshine, non-harmful, non-blacken UV/LED, 24W Power." Some lamps out there are either UV or LED but this one is both, if you're into that sort of thing. The lamp itself is so light--I doubt it's even one pound--and shaped in a half circle/dome. From straight on it looks like this:
The top is a glossy clean white with a power button (the only button on the light) and two LED lights. There are actually three ways to use this lamp. First, you can simply put your hand in the dome to activate the lights for however long you want. Second, you can tap the power button once for 30 seconds of light. Third, you can tap the power button twice for 60 seconds of light. If you press the button to activate the light, then the light will turn off after it hits your desired 30 or 60 seconds.
The underbelly of the lamp is where all of the lights are, obviously. My lamp has 15 lights in a U formation and is tinted pink. Abody sells these lamps in green and blue though too, in case you're not into pink. My brought gave me the pink one and I really like it.
That's a lot of lights! In order to make the lights actually work though (i.e. light up) you need to plug in the power cord. There's a spot on the side of the lamp where you can plug in the cord. It's the little boxy area in this photo:
It's a pretty standard power cord. I saw online that Abody also sells lamps with a USB option that would plug into your computer. I don't have the USB so I don't know how well that works.
All in all, I am SO pleased with this lamp. It's lightweight and easy to transport. It's not clunky and doesn't take up much space at all. And it works! Plus, it's big enough that you can fit your toes in there if you want to do a gel pedicure. Abody also sells a version with a digital timer on the top instead of the power button. I think that version is called the "9S" lamp. If you need some more info on gel polish, check out my Gel Q&A post.


Ever have a day that you just wish would end? I totally have, except it was a whole week that I was just struggling to get through. Seriously, it's only Tuesday. Anyway, I stopped into Ulta on my way home from work to pick up a gel polish system. My buddy Sarah is getting married May 6th as you know and she asked me to do the bridal party's nails! Plus, doing some nail polish shopping always lifts my spirits and I was happy to be getting more acquainted with gel polish in general. I needed a gel system (I already had the light) and off to Ulta I went. Here's my haul!
So what did I get?
Carol's Daughter; Sacred Tiare; Shampoo; conditioner; shampoo and conditioner; mario badescu; enzyme facial cleanser; Red Carpet Manicure; Must Haves kit; Red Carpet Manicure gel polish; gel manicure; gel polish; nail polish
  1. Carol's Daughter Sacred Tiare Shampoo and Conditioner
  2. Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel
  3. Red Carpet Manicure Must Haves kit
  4. Red Carpet Manicure Nail Wipes
  5. Red Carpet Manicure LED Gel Polish
  6. Nail buffer
  7. Nail Files (.99 cents for a set of 6!)
I'll do a more in-depth review of some of the products later after I've had time to try them out!

What the gel, bro? A Quick Gel Polish Q&A

What is gel polish?  Good question. Let's get the basics out of the way so we all know what we're talking about. Gel polish is basically nail polish that needs to be "cured" with either a UV or LED light. Each layer has to be cured for a period of time but once the final layer is cured your nails are hardened and good to go. You can go from curing your nails to doing dishes in 2 minutes!

How do you apply gel polish? It's really easy and not too different from the way you (should) do any standard polish manicure. The main difference is that you need to cure gel polish after every coat. You start with a base coat and then you cure it under the lamp. Then you follow with a THIN layer of gel polish in the color you want and cure that. You can repeat the color coat and cure 2-3 times depending on the polish (if it's really sheer you may even need more coats). Then you apply a layer of top coat and cure that. Then you have to wipe off the sticky top layer with a lint-free nail wipe and isopropyl alcohol to finish your manicure. TIP: You can buy specialized "finisher" liquid for this last step but you can also by any old rubbing alcohol for a fraction of the cost. Then you're done! You nails are completely dried, hardened, and ready to go!

What is the difference between acrylic and gel polish? Both gel and acrylic look very similar because they're both thick, shiny, and super hard. However, acrylic is a liquid and powder mix that is applied to your nails with a brush that hardens without use of any UV/LED lamp. Gel, on the other hand, is a polish and is basically useless unless you have a UV/LED lamp.

How long does gel polish last? The gel polish that requires a lamp can stay on your nails for 3-4 weeks. This means that you won't be taking it off because it chipped, you'll be taking it off because you want a different color! Other non-lamp gel polish will last anywhere from 7-14 days. Be sure to check the gel polish bottle to see their wear time since wear time can vary from brand to brand.

Is there gel polish that doesn't require use of a UV/LED lamp? Technically, yes, there are gel polishes on the market that don't require use of a lamp. For example, the Sally Hansen two step Miracle Gel gives you a gel manicure without use of any lamp. However, the gel-without-a-lamp options DO NOT last as long as the gel-with-a-lamp options. I have used both types and can attest to the different in wear times. I used Sally Hansen for gel polish before I tried out my first REAL gel polish.

I read online you have to use a base and top coat. Is that really required? You know, I'm not sure. I have never tried a gel manicure without a base and top coat. I read online that if you don't use a base coat the gel polish won't stick to your finger....but I've never tried it so I don't know! If you have had success with gel polish without using a base coat, leave a comment!

Can I use regular nail polish in between the base and top coat? Yes. You can use regular nail polish in between the base and top coats. However, you can't force the regular polish to dry quickly by curing it under the lamp (it won't work). You will have to wait for the regular polish to dry COMPLETELY before putting the top coat. Also, your manicure will not last as long as it would have if you used all gel products.

Where can I buy gel polish? Depending on the brand you want, pretty much anywhere! There are good gel options at Target, Sally's Beauty Supply, and Ulta. Although, to be honest, I was a little disappointed in Ulta's selection. You can also find them online at Amazon. I like the Red Carpet Manicure gel polish I bought at Ulta and they're only $10.00. A typical gel polish will cost between $10-$15.

How do I remove gel polish? Unfortunately, removal of gel polish is sort of a huge pain, not gonna lie. I guess when you have a beautiful manicure that lasts 3 weeks we can handle a bit of a nuisance in removal. Gel polish is considered "soak off" which means you essentially have to apply acetone to your nails and let them soak in it for about 10-15 minutes. You can soak your nails in a bowl of acetone, use one of these manicure clip sets and clip an acetone-drenched cotton ball to your nails, or use a DIY foil wrap to keep the cotton ball on your nails. My only word of caution is DON'T PICK at gel nails. Picking is no bueno and can lead to damaged nail plates!

UV or LED lamp? What's the difference? The main difference is the length of time you have to cure your nails. UV lamps have longer cure times (between 2-3 minutes typically). LED lamps have shorter (30-60 second) cure times. Again, be sure to consult the brand of polish your using to determine the appropriate cure times.

Swatch: Sally Hansen Hello Pretty

Today's post is a swatch of a vibrant almost-neon pink and, honestly, professionalism be damned when it comes to this color. I mean, hot pink in the courtroom? Hmm. But luckily I didn't have anything scheduled so I was just wearing these nails around the office. I should confess, I love vibrant nails. Maybe it's because we're finally over with winter and we're starting to get some spring weather. So it's time to bust out the colors! Plus, I wear a lot of colorful nails do a lot to keep me from seeming like I'm in mourning all of the time.  Here are the nails:
This color will make you smile. And will definitely get noticed!
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