Since so many of you have been interested in the review I did of the Sally Hansen Gel Polish kit, I thought I’d give the Insta Gel Strips a try to let you know how they work. (For my review of the Gel Polish kit, go here.)

I bought just the strips, not the entire kit, since I have the LED light from the Salon Polish kit. To use the strips, you peel them off of a backing, kind of like a sticker, and then place them on your nails. You use a file to remove the excess strip, then put on a top coat and cure it with the light. So you only have to cure one time.

instagel2So, you put these strips on. First, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that the strips weren’t as hard to work with as the regular Sally Hansen strips, which I’ve used before. I guess because they are gel, they are thicker, so it isn’t like working with tissue paper. They don’t tear as easily or fold in on themselves as much as the regular ones do.


Filing down was a little awkward, and you have to be careful not to file too much towards the top of your nail or you end up with worn-looking edges.

The main problem with strips is that your nails need to be shaped in exactly the same way as the strips to get perfect coverage. And mine aren’t. I can’t imagine very many people’s are. So I ended up with some bare spots in the bottom corners, near my cuticle, and on the sides.

instagel4See that little area that didn’t get covered in the corner? Not that big of a deal, but since I’m kind of a stickler it bothered me.

instagel6Here you can see how the edge of the nail didn’t quite get covered by the strip.

Once you put the strips on, you need to smooth down the edges, and they give you a little orange stick to use. The  problem is that the strips are pretty delicate, and so I ended up tearing one just using the orange stick.

insta5I was trying to smooth down where the strip met my cuticle, and it just tore. And you can’t really fix that. After that, I was uber careful about using that stick.

Once you’ve got the strips on, you put on a top coat and cure it. With the Insta Gel kit, the LED light is very small, so you can only fit one finger at a time. I was using my polish kit light, so I was able to do all 4 fingers at once, and the thumb separately.

I wore them for about 4 days, but 2 hours into my manicure I already had a chip:


So that was a major bummer.

The most major bummer, though, was taking this gel off. I’ve had really good success and an easy time of it taking off the polish gel. These strips were a disaster. I don’t know what happened, but instead of flaking off, the polish seemed to… melt? It was like the top coat turned to gelatin or something; it was all goopy and was sticking not only to my nails but my fingers as well. I had to scrub it off with a cotton ball covered in acetone and then wash my hands a bunch of times. And even then, some of it stuck to my skin and I had to file it off. I’m curious to know if anyone else has experienced this phenomenon.

Here’s my overall assessment and thoughts on the Insta Gel Strips: don’t waste your time or money. Here’s why:

  • Although you are only curing your fingers once, it takes so long to get the strips just right that it really isn’t that much faster than using the polish.
  • The strips aren’t as sturdy as the polish and don’t wear as well.
  • The strips are very limited in covering your nails perfectly because they only come in one size/shape.
  • You don’t really get a mirror finish or that smooth of a surface with the strips.

And, probably the number one reason I say pass? It’s super expensive.

Now, the Insta Gel kit is only $30, compared to $65 for the polish kit, so at first glance it seems like the strips option is cheaper. But you only get 16 strips in the kit, which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be for only one manicure (the extra strips are because they give you a few different sizes to cover as many differently-sized hands, I believe). If you are really good, you can get two nails out of one strip if you are careful removing the excess and can salvage it for another finger. If not, you just paid $30 for one gel manicure, versus $65 for probably 6 – 8 gel manicures with the polish kit.

And the refills! This is what I do not understand. The refill packs come with the same 16 gel strips and an entirely new bottle of top coat. And it costs $13!!! It would make more sense to me if they sold packets with just the strips, since you could easily get a good 6 – 8 top coat applications out of that bottle. And $13 is pretty steep for just one application. With the polish gel, you spend $12 for a bottle of color that will give you a bunch of manis, instead of just one.

But, I’m still a huge fan of the Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish. So if you are in the market for an at home gel solution, save up for the $65 option; in the end, you’ll really be saving money. And frustration!


I just want spring to be here! It’s warmed up in the LA area recently, so I’m hoping it’s going to be time to break out the spring clothes for good. Here are a few things I’m coveting, too.

spring fashion inspiration


  1. Tory Burch Colorblocked Oversized Sunglasses. I love the stripes on the side. I usually don’t like Tory Burch stuff because the logo is so prominent, but on the side I think it’s a little more subtle.
  2. Banana Republic Mad Men Collection Sleeveless Shell. Mad Men!
  3. Stella & Dot Seychelles Chandeliers. Oooh, I already have these earrings and I LOVE THEM.
  4. Coach Saffiano North/South Tote. In bright yellow!
  5. Gap Slim Cropped Print Pants in Green Geo. Kelly green with a geometric pattern, so modern.
  6. Banana Republic Mad Men Collection Chain Necklace.
  7. Stubbs & Wootton for J. Crew Classic Linen Slippers in Navy. I will never, never own these shoes because they cost FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS, but a girl can dream. Love the boating knot embroidery on the top.
  8. Marc by Marc Jacobs Large Turnlock Leather Bracelet. Who am I kidding? I could DIY the crap out of this. If only I could find thick, neon yellow leather.

What are you loving this spring?

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Hey, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for FREE PASTA! You can see the deets here. The contest is open until Wednesday.

When I wrote up that pasta post, I forgot to mention that I had just finished a knock-down, drag-out battle with either the flu or the norovirus. Either way, it was horrendous. I hope none of you have had these bugs, because holy nausea, I haven’t been that sick in years. I honestly could not even stand up for 2 days, and I was incapacitated for about 5. It was so terrible, and I’m thankful it’s over now.

Before the onset of the plague, I did another little experiment with the Sally Hansen gel nail kit, and (cue ominous music) this was the first negative experience I had with it. Let me preface by saying that this issue had nothing to do with the Sally Hansen kit. I was trying out another brand of color.

I mentioned before that I tried the Sephora brand gel color and it worked great. This time, I tried the SensatioNail color. And it didn’t work so well.

The first problem was that several of the nails got wrinkly. Are you familiar with this phenomenon? Once they cure, the polish actually kind of wrinkles up. I tried to get a photo of it, but it’s really difficult to see it in a still picture. This happened on 2 of my nails. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was the color, because at the salon I’ve had that happen and the manicurist told me it was because the base and top coats were “old.” So I thought maybe the Sally bottles had run their course. But after I took this polish off and did another mani with the Sally Hansen color and the old base and top coats, I had no trouble. So I think it’s the SensatioNail color that’s the problem.

I also had the color chip on one finger the second day. Not a great photo, but here’s what it looked like:


To be fair, I’m not sure the chip was the fault of the color; I could’ve had a splitting nail there that caused the issue. But the wrinkling was definitely a color problem.

So, there’s your update. SensatioNail does not work very well. No problem! They didn’t really have any outstanding colors, anyway. I’m willing to try it again to see what happens, but in the meantime, I’ll use the Sally and Sephora colors.


Spoiler: I still love it!

I’ve so appreciated all the comments I’ve gotten from people about the new Sally Hansen gel nail manicure system. One sweet reader asked whether you could use other gel polishes from other companies with it, which I had never thought of but seems so brilliant. She tried it out and said it seemed to work well, so I decided to check it out for you, too.

I bought two other brand polishes: SensatioNail and Sephora’s gelshine (which is made by OPI). I gave myself a mani the other day with the Sephora color, called Already Famous. Apparently this color is “sheer pewter with medium champagne and silver glitter.” Thank goodness it didn’t have light champagne glitter; that’s just tacky.

Here it is!

already famousIt’s super pretty, isn’t it? I had a really hard time picking a color from the Sephora line. I already had the basic colors from Sally Hansen (a nude color, bright red, deep purply black, taupe), and there wasn’t a ton of selection. I finally decided on this one, even though I don’t usually wear sparkly polish. But now I’m kind of loving it.

AND, it totally worked with the Sally kit! I used the Sally Hansen base and top coats, and then just used the Sephora gel color in between. It worked exactly the same as the Sally color. And, I should add, the Sephora color goes on really nicely. It’s a good consistency, not too sticky, so it glides on thinly and is easy to work with.

I’ve used the kit probably 6 times now, and every time it just gets better. I haven’t had a salon mani since I got it! And I don’t really miss it, except for the hand massage part. And the part where you can just sit there and read while someone else does it for you. It’s incredibly convenient to be able to do it at home, though. I can decide on a whim and be done in 45 minutes or so (including the 15 minutes of soaking off, during which I do usually read).

And, I seem to be getting a good 7 – 10 days of wear out of it. At that point, my nails have grown out, and the polish looks a little banged up. No chipping or anything, just normal wear and scuffing.

True red seemed to be a trend for New Year’s. At the party we attended, several of us ladies were rockin’ hot red nails, so I took a pic. You can see my Sally mani; I’m the hand at the bottom.


Have you tried a gel system yet? Give us the deets! I’ll show you the SensatioNail color soon.