Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Red Carpet Manicure LED Gel Kit - "Tre Chic" swatch

I apologize in advance, this post is pretty long.

So today I'm bringing you a quick review of Red Carpet Manicure's At-Home LED Gel System. My sister bought this for me for Christmas, and I haven't plucked up the courage until now to give it a whirl. Instead of purchasing the full "Pro 45 Starter Kit" (On SALE at Ulta.com) which includes their color "Red Carpet Reddy", she purchased the lamp and the "Must Haves Kit" which basically has everything except for any colors. Each color runs for $9.99 MSRP, and as I understand it can be bought at Ulta, Target, Harmon, and is popping up in places like Duane Read as well. My lovely sister purchased 2 for me ("Draped In Rubies" and "Toast of the Town"), and I picked up the 3rd ("Tre Chic") on clearance at Harmon for $5.99. You can see all 59 shades here.

I've heard that the lamp that I have (Pro Lamp) is definitely worth the investment. There's the other option of picking up the Portable LED Lamp, which costs half the price but A. takes twice as long and B. runs on batteries and tends to crap out. The lamp I have, as you can see below, looks a lot like the UV lamps you see at salons, with mirrors inside that reflect the light to amplify it. The fact that it plugs into an outlet also gives it a bit more oomph - each coat only takes 45 seconds to cure, as opposed to up to 3 minutes with the portable light.

My 3 Colors, plus the LED Pro Lamp

The Must Haves Kit (and the starter kit) comes with all of the products below as well, necessary to a successful gel manicure.

  • Purify - "Removes residue and cleanses the surface of the nail" - This is a mix of alcohol, acetone, and ethyl acetate that helps prep your bare nails, and also removes the tacky surface of the gel topcoat once it sets under the light.
  • Erase - "Removes RCM LED Gel Polish application in 10-15 minutes" - pretty sure pure acetone would work just as well. 
  • Prep - "Dehydrates the nail plate for maximum product adhesion to the nail" - This is almost the same as Purify, minus the acetone. It helps to ensure your nail beds aren't oily so that the product stays on well. Regular rubbing alcohol would probably work just as well.
  • Structure - "Bonds to the nail plate without any damage. Secures color." This is the base coat that goes on under the color.
  • Brilliance - "Final coat. Seals the application to a high shine." Great shine to seal in the color, is also resistant to Erase and needs to be buffed off before you can attempt to soak for removal. 
  • Revitalize - "Rehydrates the cuticle and the skin surrounding the nail." This cuticle oil smells LOVELY! Seems to do it's job as well. 
As you can see, the bottles are pretty tiny, though all coats of base, color, and top coat are meant to be thin, and therefore the product doesn't seem to get used up too quickly. You can see the difference in the bottles of "Purify" and "Erase" though, showing how much I used before my manicure and after. I used what I thought was a small amount on a cotton ball, though I may switch to cotton pads since they absorb less, therefore waste less.

On to the good stuff! Below is my very first Red Carpet Manicure, using 2 coats of "Tre Chic". I find the best way to apply this manicure is to do the 4 nails on the left hand first (minus the thumb) at once, then the 4 on the right hand, and then the 2 thumbs together. This means my 4 left fingers were finished base to top coat before I moved on to my right hand, and so on and so forth. It's hard to fit all 4 fingers plus your thumb in the lamp, so just trust me and do your thumbs together, last.

The application is really smooth on all coats. Make sure you 1. don't get it all over yourself. Be patient and use slow strokes. 2. Don't load up the brush...this will make sure you keep it even as well as it will keep it from bleeding into your nail bed. 3. Wrap your tips! You know the pros do it, make sure you do it! This will fortify your nail, keep the manicure from chipping or peeling, and thicken up the nail tip to keep it from cracking or splitting.

Below, I did the base coat, then 2 coats of Tre Chic, and then one coat of the top coat. Before I cured each color coat, I made sure to run around the cuticle bed with an acetone dipped brush to clean up any excess, as well as under the front of the nail. After I cured each coat, I also filed the sides with a metal file in case there was any more excess. I then applied the top coat *make sure to wrap the nail on each coat, especially the top coat!* and then wiped off the residue with Purify. I really love these results, and this color reminds me of a less pink version of OPI's "I Pink I Can", which I got in an acrylic/gel manicure once. Love the sparkle, but it's nude enough to be neutral. As you can see its a barely-there pink loaded up with a pearlescent micro glitter. Ooooooh!

The best part about this manicure is that I can apply regular polish over it, and use non-acetone remover in case I want to change the color up! Because this shade is so neutral, I don't envision it affecting any polish I might choose to apply over it, so this is a good base, plus it'll keep my nails strong as I try and grow them out again.

I took these shots after a shift at work, and it didn't even make a dent. I'm going to be pessimistic and give this manicure a week, since I have a very very bad habit of picking at the gel on the sides and near the cuticle, thought I've heard very good things about the lasting time on other manicures. 

In the mean time, I'll keep you updated on the condition of this manicure. I also picked up another bottle of the Gelous Nail Coat from Sally Beauty supply, to use on my toes with all my funky colors. I'll eventually get around to trying RCM on my toes, but not until I buy more colors, which I'll definitely do! I also found directions to "sandwich" regular polish between the gel base and top coats, so that is on my list as well.

I hope this review was helpful for anyone curious about this kit, I definitely think it's worth the investment. It pays for itself in 2-3 uses, depending on how much your usual gel mani costs at the salon...that is of course, if you have a steady hand to apply it! Though 30 seconds per coat is honestly 2nd to none, and the LED is a. faster than the UV light, and b. won't damage your skin. Gelish, OPI gel colors and any other LED friendly gels can be used with this system as well.

P.s. I may want to invest in something like these to help with removal! 

Happy Polishing!