Sally Hansen Insta-Gel strips, Red My Lips

Good morning.

Today I'm going to talk about the new Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips starter kit. I was totally intrigued by this and I had to try it. It's funny considering how often I change my polish but I really like gel polish. Partly because I want to be able to use it on my sister. I really don't like that her nails are naked, yo.
Anyway, I want to also discuss something that occurred when I got my kit and how it was resolved.

Matt bought the starter kit in Red My Lips for me for Christmas and I was stoked. The kit is really cool. It comes with the color strips, top coat, wipes, cuticle stick/file and mini UV lamp. I tore into it right away because I wanted to examine everything. I noticed that the lamp required a power cord. But there was NO POWER CORD in my kit. Puzzled, I began googling to find out if the kit came with one or if it had to be purchased separately. Not a single review listed a power cord included in the kit and NONE mentioned that the lamp required a power cord. (I think that's kind of important guys.)

So I did the only thing I could, I sent a tweet to Sally Hansen. I didn't expect a quick reply since it was Christmas Day but I received one within twenty minutes. Not only did they confirm that the kit was supposed to have a cord, they sent me a link to request a replacement. Seriously, I was impressed with how quickly they responded and presented a solution. Especially on a major holiday.

I followed the link and filled out a web form asking for a cord. I received an email confirming my request was sent and within two days, I received another email letting me know a cord was on its way to me. It arrived within a week and I was good to go.
I had to wait to use it because I had a couple of other nail projects to complete. But I finally used it last week.

Before we get to the photos, let me discuss a few things. First, the strips are not as malleable as the regular nail polish strips. They're still flexible but it is a bit stiffer. I didn't anticipate that so I had some issues getting the strips totally smooth and wrinkle free. I was disappointed with the sizing of the strips. I had the worst time finding the right strip for my index fingers and ended up having to cut strips to size. I don't trust myself to do so accurately and that's why I was disappointed.  I had issues wrapping my tips with the strip and the top coat. Namely, the strip did not want to adhere to my tip. The top coat sealed the tip but I couldn't manage to apply a thin enough coat to keep it from building up on my nail.

I did have an issue with a couple of nails and the top coat. I had a weird spot on my right middle finger that wasn't shiny and smooth. My left pinkie started out with a hazy spot near the side wall that eventually went away but couldn't be dispatched with using the enclosed wipes. I don't know why and I chalk up all my issues to operator error and a learning curve.


Left hand, Day one
Check the weird hazy thing going on with my pinkie

The color is a classic blue toned red crelly. Some nail line is visible. It looks like my index finger had the strip applied on my cuticle. This is not the case. My nails grow in a tube shape and that finger has a ridge almost right at the sidewall. The strip covered the nail and was not overlapped but it looked like it.  Cool. You can also see that my tips were not wrapped. The strip simply would not adhere to the tip. I didn't over file so I have no clue.

I was also pretty annoyed that my camera wasn't working well. I soon found out why. It was on the wrong setting. The above photos are the best of the set. I was so frustrated that I said fuck it and moved on.

 Left hand, one week later

Right hand, one week later

Holy grow out! I must say, these strips held on tight. I didn't have any chips at all. My nails just grew like mad. I did touch up my tips with Sinful Colors Ruby, Ruby throughout the week and it all looked good. The top coat fared really well. It was shiny and (mostly) smooth for much of the week. Did get some dings and scratches but I was intentionally tough on my nails.

I did terrible things to my nails to really test how well these stand up. I painted two walls in the spare bedroom, washed dishes without gloves, played with Mod Podge and decoupaged a couple of boxes. I did a boatload of typing and during that week was a total klutz. I managed to hit my nails on everything and even scraped a nail with my X-acto knife. (Don't ask.)  Not. A. Chip. Impressive.

I could have gone an additional week but I couldn't handle it any more. The grow out was not cool and I was bored to tears. The removal was very easy. Sally Hansen recommends the foil technique in the instructions. So I applied acetone soaked cotton to my tips and wrapped them in foil. I removed them within three minutes and the polish slid right off. I was concerned how my nails would be after wearing this. I have had some bad experiences with some gel formulations that left my nails dry and peeling.

Naked nails

No worries. My nails were just fine. They now need to be filed and my cuticles addressed. NBD.

Here are my final thoughts:

I really, really like this product. It does require some close attention to detail but it is not hard to use. I learned pretty quickly the best way to work with the strips and my right hand benefited the best. 
It is a long wearing, heavy duty product that holds up to a lot of abuse. The strips apply quickly and the curing is only 30 seconds per finger. All, in all applying and curing this can be done well under thirty minutes.

I was disappointed that I had difficulty finding the right size strip for some fingers but the strips can be cut to fit. The top coat is great but one must take care to a make sure the brush is evenly loaded for best results. The two packets of wipes are not enough to prep the nails and clean away the sticky residue after curing. They dry out very quickly. However, if you have lint free wipes and 99% alcohol, you don't need to worry.

This is a great product for someone like my sister. I plan on buying more strips and doing her nails. I will use the strips again for myself but in an instance when I can't do my nails. I'm particularly into the top coat because you can use it on regular nail polish as well as over a super bumpy and gritty glitter polish. 

Overall, the kit is a win. Just make sure yours comes with a power cord. If not, Sally Hansen customer service will be happy to help!

I received this as a Christmas gift from my husband. Sally Hansen products can be found at most major drugstores and retails for $27.99. Sally Hansen customer service is spectacular!

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