Friday, October 31, 2014

My first gel manicure! Salon Edge UV Lamp review

I received this item in exchange for an honest review. 

Happy Halloween everyone! Today I'm really excited to share with you my trials as I experimented with my very first gel polish manicure. I've been wanting to try this out for a long time now, and I'm thankful to Salon Edge for providing me with their UV lamp for review.

Before I begin, I just want to explain that I did not receive any instructions with this lamp. I contacted Salon Edge about this, and they explained the paperwork had not been printed yet so they made the decision to send out the lamp without the instructions. With all of my marketing schooling, personally I found this very odd, and highly risky for the company but that's just me. Since I had never done a gel manicure before, I was a little intimated and I would have felt more secure by having those instructions. Anyway, I read a bunch of nail blogs to get some tips on the general procedure before actually doing my nails. Otherwise, I pretty much winged it.

So I didn't get instructions, a warranty, etc. Here's what the box did contain:

The lamp itself, a nail file, and the light bulbs. Do you normally have to install the light bulbs yourself? It's kind of sad, but my mind was full of "How many nail bloggers does it take to screw in a light bulb?" jokes as I was trying to put these in. Now I'm not the most mechanically inclined individual, but these were seriously quite difficult to push in. Hopefully they last a long time because I'm not looking forward to the possibility of having to replace them! Once I finally got the light bulbs in, I was dancing for joy because not only did I get the bulbs in but I plugged in the lamp to make certain everything worked. Success!

One of the nice things about this lamp is that it does have a slide out access panel on the bottom which made physically getting to the light bulbs easier.

OK, now for the actual manicure. Unfortunately my original plan for buying some gel polishes fell through and I had to hurry and look online for the least expensive gels I could find. Bundle Monster seemed like the best buy, but the only color option I had was red. I was hoping to get a unique color, but that's OK. I really like the idea of gel manicures because I've read that you can use the gel as a base, apply regular polish on top, then just use regular nail polish remover (NOT acetone) to remove the regular polish. The gel manicure is supposed to remain in tact. I haven't tried this yet, but I'm excited to do so.. it seems like a great chance to practice some nail art, and with Christmas coming up soon red will be perfect to try out a lot of different Christmas manicures.

One of the things I disliked about doing a gel manicure is that there was actual prep work involved. Granted this only takes a few minutes, but still... anyway, here's everything I got out: my acetone (didn't use it), nail polish remover, brush for cleanup, cuticle pusher, the nail file, the polish and an alcohol wipe.

So here's the process.

Step 1: Push away your cuticles!

I'm actually one of the freaks who doesn't mind doing this. It doesn't bother me whatsoever... though I rarely do it.

Step 2: Buff your nails

This is the step which had my cringing the entire time. Even though I know how important this step is because Mike used to paint cars, it still makes me cringe just thinking about it. By roughing up your nails, it helps the polish stick to the surface.

I'm not sure if there's an exact method for how you're supposed to buff your nails. I just ran my file over each nail a few times to rough it up.

Step 3: Remove the dust!

Next you just use an alcohol wipe to clean off the nails. Simple, easy. Ready to paint?

Step 4: Apply the basecoat

From what I understand, you HAVE to use a gel basecoat, otherwise the polish itself won't stick correctly. Would you believe when I first started planning my manicure and thinking about getting polish I actually completely forgot about base and top coats? What planet was my head on that day?

I think I cured the base coat for 180 seconds. It was a bit sticky afterwards, just like a normal base coat would be. Hopefully that is correct?

Step 5: Apply the color 

This is why I wasn't thrilled about getting red polish. It always stains me horribly. I forgot to mention that I did clean up with every single new coat of polish. Even so, I still have a lot of staining on my hands. This is just one coat, and you can see it's pretty thin so I had to do two.

I think I cured this one coat for some seriously dumb time, like 10 minutes. It kept coming out sticky and I wasn't sure if that was normal or not? Eventually I gave up, assumed this was normal and proceeded with the second coat. According to the Bundle Monster instructions, it should have taken 2 - 4 minutes, maybe more because this is a darker color.

Repeat this step as needed.

Step 6: Top coat!

Hurray, finally almost done!

Apply the top coat, do clean up and then cure. I think I let this cure for 5 minutes total, just to be certain.

Because I did cleanup with each step, doing just one hand took about an hour. I thought this was supposed to be quick and easy?? Hopefully it gets faster and easier with practise. I found that I hadn't done as nearly a good job of cleaning up as I thought, so needless to say this felt REALLY weird. It definitely takes some getting used to. I also discovered that a day later, the polish on my skin peels off really easily so I'm not sure all of that clean up was even worth it. However, it can be kind of easy to peel away the polish off of your nail if it's connected to the polish on your skin so that's something to be aware of.


As far as I can tell, the lamp worked without any issues. The polish cured as expected, so I will call it a success!

I do like the access panel, and if you noticed in my picture this lamp has 3 different time settings: 90, 120 and 180 seconds. That's a nice feature if you're using different polishes which require differing curing times, or if you just want to cure the polish for a few extra seconds. The timer does light up and shuts off when it's done. No noise or anything, which I kind of expected. I think a small beep or something would be a nice improvement.

The one thing I love about this lamp is that it is large enough that I could do my entire hand at once. I've seen some lamps which were smaller and you can only do one finger at a time. I'm not patient enough for that so I appreciate the larger size!

The only cons I really have about this lamp is the lack of instructions and the difficulty of the light bulbs.

This lamp has a retail value of $49.99 but is currently selling on Amazon for $27.99 with free shipping. It is important to note that you do NOT get polish with this lamp so you will have to buy those separately. But that does make this a good replacement lamp for those who have been doing gel manicures for awhile!

So I will follow up with this post later, once I've gotten some time to play with practising on my nails, removing it, and so on to see how that works out. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


  1. Great review! Half the fun in a new product for me is reading the instructions. It sounds like this would be a great starter lamp.

    1. thank you! :) I KNOW! I need those instructions! lol. I was told they would send me a copy once they're printed, so hopefully I will get them.