Review: New Gelish Structure in Cover Pink

A few years ago Gelish introduced Structure gel, a soak-off clear gel intended for use as an overlay, typically under Gelish gel polish, to give the natural nail a bit of extra strength and smoothness while maintaining a natural look. The original product came in a small pot, like this:

S&M Gelish Structure C

Fast forward to a few years and Gelish has not only updated to brush-in-bottle applications, but in 2018 added two new products to the Clear version to the complete the lineup – Cover Pink (pictured below) and Translucent Pink.S&M Gelish Structure B

In my pursuit of the perfect natural nail overlay, I just had to try the new version of this product.  My natural nails are not especially in need of a cover-up but the idea of a neutral pink as a base for Gelish colors, particularly those that show have a visible nail line otherwise, is very appealing.

I bought the last bottle in stock at my local CosmoProf. The bottle is the same size as the full-size Gelish polish, so you get many uses out of it.  The application was so easy and I got full coverage in one coat. With the Structure Gel in the pot I used to have some shrinkage issues, but they seem to be resolved with this product. The product is smooth yet obviously natural nails. I was really impressed with how good they looked!

Here’s a photo of my nails with just one coat of Cover Pink Structure gel:S&M 20 May 2018 A

I kept my nails like this for 3-4 days, but felt that the overlay wasn’t quite enough to protect my nails in rough situations. As my nails get longer I’ll want more coverage, so the Structure would be perfect for a natural nail refresh, or maybe under Gelish for shorter nails.

This product is great, so I might try layering it with my recent go-to, Gelish Dip. I really like it so far!

Have tried the new Structure Gel? What did you think of it?

 

 

 

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#NakedNails – Week 6

S&M naked nails week 6

Here’s my final natural nail refresh progress photo, taken at week 6.  This is a good length for most people – long enough for nail art but short enough that they’re not in the way.

Removal of the polish I was testing damaged the acrylic a little, and you can see some leftover bits of red polish at the edges… That’s the down side to using traditional polish on acrylic.

All in all, 6 weeks of regrowth flew by. I spent the weeks testing some products on short natural nails, which made it worthwhile. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series! If you have any questions or opinions to share about Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, maintaining short natural nails, or a natural nail refresh, please leave a comment below!

#NakedNails Week 5

S&M naked nails week 4

These are my #nakednails five weeks into the natural nail refresh. They’re a comfortable length at this point. When this photo was taken the Gelish Dip was almost two weeks old and it’s time to soak/re-do.  That’s the great thing about Gelish Dip – it’s quick and easy to remove and do a new set!

This week I’ll be testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG) over the Gelish Dip, so come back in a few days for photos! In the meantime, check out my reviews of SH MG on natural nails. Spoiler – it wasn’tThe next best thing to a salon gel manicure…” for my fingernails. But it is holding up as well as most traditional polishes for my pedicure!

#NakedNails – Week 3

S&M naked nails week 3.jpg

I’m on week 3 of my #naturalnailrefresh, and this week my nails have started to look like themselves again.

After my disappointing test results with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG) in the color ShockWave, I decided to try again with another color. For this test I applied three coats of a bright purple color called Hunger Flames.

S&M 1 April 2018 C

This time around I decided to apply three coats of the color polish, in order to make the color more even. The idea backfired however, because the orange peel issue I had reported on a couple weeks ago became twice as bad with extra color coats. The results were so bad that I removed the polish after only a couple days and didn’t bother taking a photo. When I removed the color I was disheartened to find out that the color had stained my nails. I’m not sure if you can tell in the photo above, but in person I could see it very clearly. Why isn’t there a base coat for this system?!?!

Using traditional polish (I know that Sally Hansen calls this product a gel, but it is not) again for the first time in a while reminds me that it has some issues you wouldn’t have with gel polish:

  • staining of the natural nail, especially with darker colors
  • visible ridges in the nails
  • small amounts of residual polish in the lateral nail fold (and even under the free edge) that can be difficult to remove

This week I plan to protect my nails with Gelish Dip, and then I’ll be documenting not only how Gelish Dip can help you grow long natural nails, but also how well SH MG will work on top of an acrylic overlay. I have a hunch that it will show better results over the acrylic and on longer nails!  Have you tried SH MG on acrylic or gel overlays or enhancements? If so, did it work well? Please leave a comment below!

#NakedNails – Week 2

S&M naked nails week 2

This week you can definitely see some growth! I’m a little late posting this photo, but this is about two weeks of growth.  My nails are getting long enough that soon I’ll want to apply some Gelish Dip to protect them from breakage.

In the meantime, I’ve been testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG).

S&M 1 April 2018 C

As you saw in the photo in my last post, I used the color called Shock Wave, a perfect spring color. I had heard good things about this product and had high expectations for it. However, my results weren’t so good. Here are my nails after three days, right before I couldn’t stand it any longer and removed the polish.

S&M 1 April 2018 A

I had really bad chipping and cracking on my nails, and I wasn’t even that hard on them! Take a look at the cracking close up:

S&M 1 April 2018 B

Needless to say, I was not impressed with this product and would not recommend it for natural nails. It does not flex or bend with the natural nail, like a gel polish would.  It is not thick enough to provide the natural nail with any protection, like gel would. It also does not smooth nail imperfections like gel polish would. For these and other reasons, I actually believe that the name of this product is misleading.  And apparently, I’m not the only one! In early 2017 the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recommended that the manufacturer discontinue its claims that this is the equivalent of a gel polish product. Yikes! I will reserve my final judgement on the best usage for this product until after I test it for use on top of overlays and for pedicures.

Here are answers to some more questions often asked about SH MG:

  • Does it last two weeks like a gel polish? No, not on natural nails. (I have a hunch that it will be great for pedicures, but that remains to be seen.)
  • Is it like getting a gel polish manicure at the salon? No. This is a resounding no. If you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure, this is not the product for you. It lasts no longer than a professional manicure done with traditional polish.
  • How do you remove it? This is essentially a traditional polish, and it is easily removed with regular nail polish remover (acetone-based polish remover will be faster).
  • Does it damage the natural nail? No, this polish does not damage the natural nail. It will, however, stain your nails, as there is no base coat for this system.

Testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

During my natural nail refresh I’ve decided to test Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish.

shock_wave_960x1500a

At my local Walmart I found both the color polish and top coat for $7.49 each plus tax, and there were plenty of colors to choose from. I’ve also ordered two more color polishes online for $3.96 each. The color to the right and pictured on my nails below is a bright pink called Shock Wave. There is a color band at the bottom of the lid, which is a nice touch because it’s somewhat grippy and allows for easier opening of the bottle. But the color of the band isn’t entirely accurate and seems unnecessary seeing as how it’s directly on top of the actual polish color seen through the clear bottle.

Note that all the information I share here is my research and the opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with Sally Hansen and I personally purchased these products for testing. 

While shopping for these polishes the first thing I noticed was that there is no base coat for this product line. The application instructions are to, basically, wash your hands and then wipe them with polish remover before applying two coats of color. Weird…

In the interest of giving the product an accurate test, I followed the application instructions exactly.  After rolling the bottle of polish in my hands for a few seconds I applied the first coat of color polish.  I noticed immediately that the brush is flat and curved, similar to the way many professional brands are designing their brushes now. However, the brush didn’t make application as easy as I had hoped. (I definitely prefer the new Gelish brush.) The first coat was very uneven and streaky.  After a couple minutes dry time I applied a second coat, which did help even out the color quite a bit, but you can still see the uneven color in the photo below.Sally-Hansen-Miracle-Gel-20-Top-Coat-147ml-Transparent-580510

I very much wanted to apply a third color coat, but left it at two in the interest of following instructions exactly for my first application. After 5 minutes drying time for the two color coats, per the instructions, I applied a coat of the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (SH MG) Top Coat.  The top coat is thick like most actual gel top coats, which I believe may the reason for the success of this product line. Over the next few days I’ll see how this polish wears and will record when the chipping begins in my next post.

S&M 25 March 2018Here are the answers to some questions often asked regarding the purchase and application of the SH MG nail polish:

  • Is this gel polish? No. Gel polish requires a UV/LED light to cure.  This is regular nail polish with a thick top coat that has a gel-like feel and finish. You must wait for SH MG to dry, for at least a half hour, like any other traditional nail polish.
  • Is it cheaper than gel polish?  Yes, one bottle of the SH MG costs less than the professional brands of gel polish (like Shellac, Gelish and OPI).  In upcoming posts I’ll compare the wear time of SH MG and Gelish to help determine which is the best bang for your buck!
  • Is it dry instantly? No. This is a traditional nail polish and therefore takes quite some time to dry (Unlike get polish, which cures or “dries” instantly in the UV lamp).
  • How does it work? From the SH MG press release: “The advanced Color Coat and Top Coat formulas contain an oligomer, and the Top Coat also contains a photoinitiator. The photoinitiator in the Top Coat formula reticulates with the oligomer contained in the Color Coat, thus curing the formula without the need of an LED/UV light. As the manicure cures over time, it becomes more durable due to the increased hardness of the film. So LED/UV lamp curing is not necessary, only natural light.” According to the back of the bottle, the Top Coat “activates” ingredients in the color coats.
  • What is the finished texture? As noted above, two thin coats of color plus top coat produces a smooth yet unevenly colored finish (see nails on top hand in the photo above). Two medium-thick coats of color plus top coat create a more evenly-colored nail but an orange peel finish (nails on the bottom hand above).
  • Is the Top Coat necessary? Yes. The color coat alone dries to a thin finish and will not last as long without the Top Coat. (Well, technically it is not necessary if you want terrible results…)

Have you tried to Miracle Gel? What are your thoughts on this product? Please leave a comment below!

#NakedNails – Week 1

This week Smoke & Mirrors is joining the movement promoting the beauty of natural nails! I decided it was time for a fresh start, and so cut my free edge away, down to the nail bed about a week ago. Here’s a photo of the growth so far.

S&M 20 March 2018

As you can see, my natural nails are healthy overall but dinged, even pitted, in a couple spots from filing enhancements. And, thanks to the resurgence of winter, my cuticles are dry and ragged this week.

MGlong

I’ll be taking advantage of this re-growing time by reviewing a new-to-me line of products called Miracle Gel by Sally Hansen.

 

The Sally Hansen brand offers a ton of interesting products for home users that I would love to test, but I’m not made of money so I chose to test the product that I’ve heard the most buzz about amongst DIYers over the past year or two.  Sally Hansen calls this “life-proof polish”, a gel polish with “No UV lamp required.” They say it’s “The next best thing to a salon gel manicure that you can do at home.” I say, let’s find out! I’ll be comparing Miracle Gel to my tried-and-true Gelish, in an effort to help you decide which is the best bang for your buck.

There are several Miracle Gel reviews available online, but here at Smoke & Mirrors you’ll find different information – I’ll not only test the product application and results from the perspective of a professional nail tech, but also analyze how well the product will protect natural nails as they grow out. Because long, healthy natural nails are what we want, right?

I’d also like to answer any questions you have about this product. So please leave me a comment or a question you’d like answered!

Acrylic Dip Systems: Part 2 – Professional systems

There has been a spate of professional acrylic dip systems released in the last year or so, perhaps due to the sudden increase in client interest and demand.  There’s no question that acrylic dip systems have made a comeback, and received a bit of an update in the process. Years ago, we did not have all these beautiful colors to choose from!

I love this enhancement service and highly recommend trying it if you have not already.  My recommendation for professional users is the Gelish Dip system. Check out my recent results with this system:

S&M 2 November 2017 D

I trimmed my nails a few weeks ago, and used Gelish Dip to protect them as they grew out again.  When I was at the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies over the summer, the Gelish rep suggested that I try using Simple Sheer (instead of the Clear As Day powder I had used previously) for wearing on long natural nails with no polish.  So I finally purchased some and applied it, and I think the results look very natural.

While I recommend Gelish Dip, there are other professional options to hit the market in 2016 and 2017. Recently Nails Magazine Readers voted for their favorite dip system for 2017, and the top three were:

  1. Young Nails SlickPour
  2. Gelish Dip
  3. OPI Powder Perfection

Notice that SNS Nails is not on the list!

Home and pro users can find a couple different options at Sally Beauty:

I haven’t tried any of these except for the Gelish Dip system. If you have, please let me know your thoughts! Also, check out Part 1 of this series, explaining what SNS Nails  really are… and what they aren’t!

 

Don’t Break My Corazon

S&M 12 November 2017

This design was done with two coats of Gelish Don’t Break My Corazón from the Fall 2017 Matadora collection. This is a stunning red in person, and it is the type of red that goes with everything.

On the middle nails I taped off the inner section before applying the Don’t Break My Corazón. After the polish cured I removed the tape and glued on some 3D net embellishments from Born Pretty Store. This stuff is basically a lot of strings all laid in a random pattern and glue together. It comes to you in a small sheet, and you can cut a strip whatever size you need from it.  It is a flat sheet of it, however, and only slightly flexible. And it is not self-adhesive, so I used nail glue to adhere it to the curves of my nail. It stayed on very well, and I had to soak it off with acetone when it was time for removal.

I’m not sure if this design is really my style, but the product worked well and I got a lot of questions and compliments on it!

Review: Gelish PolyGel

S&M 31 August 2017

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been doing some product testing with Gelish® PolyGel™. (Of course I have to thoroughly test it on myself before recommending it to others.) This is a photo of my nails enhanced with clear PolyGel and then polished with one coat of Gelish Tickle My Heart (which Gelish is, unfortunately, no longer manufacturing).

I was going for a simple, neutral design with this set, but couldn’t resist a polish with a bit of glitter! You can see that I used the PolyGel to extend the nails, basically doubling the length of my free edge.

After using and wearing PolyGel for about 3 weeks now, I am happy to report that it is as user-friendly and easy to apply as they say. I had watched a few videos on the application of this product, yet I was still blown away by how easy it is to work with. It’s really something you have to experience for yourself!

PolyGel enhancements also sit on the nail very comfortably – it’s light and feels natural on my nail and fingers. This is in contrast to acrylics, which I have trouble getting used to… acrylic on my nail always feels like an enhancement to me.

I’ve applied both Gelish gel polish and regular polish to my nail with no issues, and experienced great wear time. As far as wear and tear, the PolyGel has held up very well. The only minor issue I’ve noticed is that the corners of my square nails are now rounded, especially the nail of the middle finger on my right hand. I believe this is due to the softness of PolyGel as compared to acrylic or even hard gel. But after ~3 weeks of wear, that isn’t too bad! I have experienced very little lifting – much less than I usually do with acrylic or even hard gel.

Some tips for working with PolyGel:

  • Pour the slip solution onto your PolyTool over the dappen dish, with the brush-side down. The Polytool will guide the slip solution liquid into the dish, and at the same time your are priming your brush with slip solution.
  • Slice off only a small amount of PolyGel. You can always add more product.
  • You don’t need a lot of Slip Solution on the brush. Be sure it’s not dripping, only saturating the bristles.
  • If the PolyGel starts to feel gummy or tacky under your brush as you are working with it on the nail, then you’ll know it’s time to put some more slip solution on the brush.
  • PolyGel is great for techs who prefer to hand file because it files so easily and quickly. Use a fine bit and a low speed if e-filing!
  • I recommend starting with the trial kit and PolyTool because that’s everything you need to get squeezing, slicing, and rolling with PolyGel. Once you get a feel for the product, you can add always buy other colors or brushes and tools to your arsenal.

Have you tried PolyGel yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this product!