The products I was looking at were the gel top coat, the gel primer, the french tip stickers and a metallic polish for stamping.
Gel Top Coat
I think this cost around $4.60, but it isn't listed on the website.
On my tester nails I did one with the two coats of IBD gel white on the tip first, then used the Gelish Tafeta colour over it, followed by the Essence top coat. On the other nail I have 2 coats of Tafeta, then two coats of the IBD on the tip, follwed by the Gelish top coat.
The reason for the different processes was because I also wanted to see if it looked better with the colour on top or under the white, and how well the tip stickers worked over a coat of gel polish. Because these are just practice nails I didn't bother with base coat at all. In the photos the nail with the bigger white tip has the Gelish top coat.
Overall I think the Essence gel is kind of a dud. It does work, but not nearly as well or as easily as the Gelish. You can see in the images that the Essence top coat give a cloudy effect to the nail and is a much more dull finished compared to the Gelish. It was also very thick and I found it was hard to spread over the nail without being a very thick layer. It is also has a slightly yellowish tint to it which I think is what made it seem a bit cloudy. If you want to try out gels, I don't think this is the way to do. I would really recommend bypassing the 'drug store' type ones and go straight for CND Shellac or Nail Harmony Gelish polishes and base/top coats. They are much easier to work with and will give you better results for your investment to start with. Then it is easy to experiment with other polishes in the middle as you get better at application. I have yet to find a cheaper brand that applies as much like regular polish as the Gelish or CND Shellac ones, and have not found other brand top coats to give as good of a shine.
This is the product that you use on your nails before applying the base coat. The aim is to dehydrate the nail and ensure there are no oils that might make your polish lift sooner. It cost $4.60, for comparison I think the mini Gelish ones like in the picture cost about $8 at Hairhouse.
Comparing the ingredients to the Gelish brand one, I found that the main ingredient was the same (a type of alcohol) but the rest seemed different, however they could have been different names for the same chemical for all I know about it. I'm not sure how much effect this will make on my nails, as I was only playing with practise nails today.
On the back of my hand I found they felt the same and both evaporated quickly, with the Gelish seeming like it was a bit faster. The Essence one however smells really nice and the smell lingers on your skin for ages, which is nice because the Gelish one smells awful. I would really like it if the smell stayed on may hand after applying all the layers of polish, it would just make the process a bit nicer and fancier feeling! So far I would recommend this, I will update if suddenly my polishes stop working as well.
French Tip Stickers
At $1.80 for 30 you can't go too far wrong with these. I tried them two ways. First stuck straight onto my practise nail and then stuck on over my base colour that had been cured and dry brushed to try and remove some of the sticky layer.
Straight on, as it would be on a natural nail when using regular nail polish or over totally dry nail polish, this will work really well and give a great crisp even line for a french tip, or other effect depending on where you place it.
|One layer before cleaning up|
|Two layers, cleaned up|
Over gel polish, like any tape produce, it doesn't work as well and slips around a bit. That said, I think it will make tipped looks much easier for me because using these I can mark the height better so it is even across my nails. Using this to apply the first coat, then cleaning up with a brush dipped in alcohol or non acetone remover before curing means I can get neat even tips, and the second coat of colour is easy to just carefully apply over the top. I am also able to apply thinner layers this way which should mean it lasts longer as thick application at the tips often leads to lifting.
This polish I think was about $3, so it is a bargain either way!
For stamping I found it worked pretty well, not as well as my Ulta3 gold polish, but they aren't completely the same colour. It will still be very useful and great for a warmer toned but softer look when stamping gold.
I stamped over my practise nail, but you couldn't see it well due to the colours so I ended up just stamping over some purple paper to compare the different polishes I have that are similar. I would say that this Essence polish is now my second best one, and still better than the expensive Konad Special Stamping polish that I got with my inital set. The stamp I used is from BundleMonster.
|This was the best shot I could get of the Essence colour. It turned out really well.|
|Compared to the others without flash, you can see the Ulta3 gold next to it is just a bit stronger and more opaque.|
|Compared to the others with flash. The Konad gold is very dissapointing. It does stamp well, as all the Konad colour will, but it isn't a rich metallic gold. It just kind of looks brown/ dirty yellow and has no shine or sparkle.|
So there you go! 1 dud, 2 really good and one pretty useful. Not too bad and given the prices, I'm not annoyed that the top coat isn't great. It will be useful for smoothing out glitters I think, and for playing with pigments etc. when I don't want to contaminate my good top coat.
I would love to do more nail posts and would really like ideas for nail art looks or products to try out, so feel free to comment and let me know what you think :)