Do it yourself manicures vs. the pros

February 13, 2012 9:04:48 PM PST
Americans spend billions of dollars and countless hours at nail salons every year, but several new products on the market claim to save you time and money.

The question, as always is: how well do they work?

Gel polish manicures are really popular these days, but they're more expensive than even a regular manicure. They usually run about $30.

But now there are kits you can use to give yourself a gel polish manicure at home for as little as $3 a manicure.

So we tested a couple of the DIY kits as well as nail strips - basically they're stickers you put on your nails.

All these products promise no dry time and extended wear up to two weeks!

For many women, professional manicures are a regular must do, but not for fashion and beauty blogger, Jessie Holeva.

"For me, I just think that, budget-wise, it doesn't make sense. We're not in a great economy. Your nails are constantly chipping, so you're really just throwing your money away," Jessie said.

Products we tested promise the look of a professional manicure at home and some come complete with LED lamps.

Action News product tester Morgan White checked out Sensationail Invincible gel polish by Nailene.

The starter kit is $50 and good for 10 manicures. Refill colors are $12 and provide up to 25 manicures.

Meantime, tester Monica Burke tried the Red Carpet gel polish kit. The starter kit is $60 and good for 20 applications. Refills are $10.

Like Sensationail, Red Carpet takes about five steps.

Melissa Hunt tested Sally Hansen Nail Effects which retails for about $8 for 16 strips, basically one application.

Kameel Alkassir tested out a similar, but more expensive product - Sephora by OPI TrendTips, $12 for one full application. Just peel and apply.

Now let's check back in with Morgan and Sensationail. It took Morgan only about 20 minutes and did dry almost instantly.

"I like the way they look; I think they came out nice," Morgan said.

But Morgan is disappointed in the manicure's longevity.

"They lasted tops four days and only on two nails. There was only polish on two nails," Morgan said.

As for Monica and Red Carpet?

"If you had somewhere to go and you didn't feel like going out to get your nails done, this is definitely a good option," Monica said.

But Monica also says her DIY manicure didn't last as long as a professional gel polish manicure

As for Kameel and Melissa and their nail strips?

"It was really easy to do; I think it actually looks pretty cute," Melissa said.

"I think it's amazing. It's really good for a quick job just before you go out on a Saturday night," Kameel said.

"Personally, I think the Sally Hansen ? that's my winner, just because I think they're more cost effective, they're the easiest to apply," Jessie said.

The nail strips took only about 5 minutes to apply, but remained intact for only a day or two.

Still, considering ease of application and price, both testers give the products a thumbs up.

To be fair, one of our testers is a waitress and says her hands are constantly in water. Another tester is a busy mom and says she too is constantly washing her hands and doing other chores.

Our executive producer, Renee, also loves the Sally Hansen strips, which also come in solid colors, and says they usually last her 10 days with no chipping! She says the trick is to take your time when putting them on and apply clear polish over the strips.

Statement from SensatioNail Brand:

We are pleased that she found application easy and was impressed with the final result. To address the peeling and chipping, its important that the hands and nails are clean of any oils. This is achieved by washing and drying, then using the Gel Cleanser and Lint-Free Wipe. The nails should also be buffed consistently (not too light, not too heavy). The base gel and first color gel should be applied thin and controlled, with no 'globbing'. Each nail should also be capped for every layer. Finally, as with anything new, application is a learning curve and all of these steps will improve with practice.

Statement from Red Carpet Manicure:

"We are very pleased that your viewer was able to easily apply Red Carpet Manicure to give her professional looking nails. Red Carpet Manicure can last for weeks of wear if applied with very thin coats. Practice also helps just like any DIY beauty product - we look forward to hearing how her second applications goes!"