Ever since I discovered the wonders of Shellac manicures, I’ve been trying to find the best at-home alternative for soak-off gel polish manicure systems to cut back on the $50 salon service every two weeks. I came across this Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit ($79.99 USD- there is also one for $59.99 USD but read on to find out why I don’t recommend that one). Let’s take a closer look at this kit!
The entire kit comes nicely packaged in a single box and includes (almost) everything you need to get started right away (I’ll talk about this soon). All the elements are neatly placed in cardboard holders in the box to protect the different components (there are LED lights in the lamp and you wouldn’t want them to break in shipping)! Overall, the packaging is great and would be perfect for gift-giving too.
Like I said before, this is the Pro Kit and while there is a Starter Kit available for $20 less, I would strongly recommend investing the extra dollars because the lamp you get is much better. The mini lamp in the starter kit is harder to use and maneuver… I’ve used one very similar. The Pro Kit lamp is exactly the same in every way to my Gelish Pro 45 lamp… it’s so much easier to use and I always get a good, even curing with this lamp.
I apologize for not taking step-by-step photographs of the process… I only have two hands and it’s hard enough to do the manicure on my own let alone take photos of each step. Red Carpet Manicure has excellent detailed video & photos to show the process, but I will explain them the best I can. The kit comes with the following components:
Professional LED Light
Soak-off gel polish can be cured with either LED or UV light, but I prefer LED lamps because they cure much faster and the bulbs last longer. Very happy to see that Red Carpet Manicure opted for LED lights!
This dehydrates the nail to promote maximum adhesion of the gel product to the nail. This product does not need to be cured under the lamp.
This is the base coat gel. They recommend 2 coats, however I usually only do one coat and find it works very well. It is a lot thicker than most base gels I’ve tried from other brands, which makes it a bit more difficult to do a thin layer, but it works very well. This product needs to be cured for 30 seconds.
This is the super-shiny top coat; literally it gives a gorgeous lacquered finish that lasts the life of your manicure… probably one of my favorite things about gel polish manicures is how shiny and brilliant they look! I do one layer of this product and cure for 45 seconds.
After the nail has been cleaned with the RCM Purify, this nourishing cuticle oil is placed on the nail bed to return moisture to the nail and hydrate it again (the process can be quite drying to the nails)- it makes them look super healthy like a salon manicure. This product does not need to be cured.
RCM LED Gel Polish
This kit comes with Red Carpet Reddy, a beautiful red shade. Red Carpet Manicure has many different shades for sale (and even some limited edition ones) for $9.99 each. I do two thin coats of this polish and cure each layer for 45 seconds.
This is the pre- and post-manicure cleanser. It cleans the nail to prepare for products before using RCM Prep, and also removes the tackiness from the nails after the entire manicure is finished.
This is the acetone-based remover; after a few weeks your manicure will start to grow out, so you’ll want to take it off and re-do it (or if you’re like me and want to change the color all the time). To remove the manicure, you will first buff off the shiny topcoat with a nail buffer, then saturate a small piece of cotton and place it on the nail and wrap each fingernail with foil. Leave for 10-15 minutes, and when you remove it the gel will be dissolved and can easily be scraped off with an orange stick.
The entire process takes about 10-15 minutes and lasts at least 2 weeks. Your nails are instantly dry and hard after you’re finished- you can literally dig into your jean pockets or go and scrub dishes and your manicure will look absolutely perfect. The best part? You can totally put your own nail polish on top (I swear the gel manicure actually helps prolong the wear of regular polish too! I’ve gone 5-6 days without any chipping with regular nail polish on top), as long as you use a non-acetone nail polish remover to remove it afterwards. My only wish is that the lamp had a 30 second “beep” or something like that, but it’s really not that big of a deal since only one of the layers (the base coat) is cured for 30 seconds, and the rest cure for 45 seconds (the lamp automatically shuts off after 45 seconds).
All the items can be purchased individually, which is great- because if you like to do clear manicures every once in a while just to keep your nails strong (this is what I usually do), you’ll probably run out of your base and top coats before anything else (not every at-home system sells these products individually). They also sell a Must Haves Kit for $29.99 USD which includes the essentials (everything except the LED lamp and nail color). My biggest complaint is that there are a few things missing from the kit, like an orange stick, lint-free pads and a nail buffer- they do sell an Accessories Kit for $3.99 USD, but I think essentials like this should be included in the kit so its complete right out of the box.
The price is amazing, for less than the price of two salon Shellac manicures you can have your own at-home system that is good for probably about 15-20 manicures. They look and feel just like I would have them done at the salon! Plus my Gelish lamp cost $80 on its own… so this is definitely a better deal. It’s also a lot easier than I thought it would be- you have to be a lot more careful because it’s not easy to clean up mistakes, but overall if I can do my right hand with my shaky left hand, anyone can do it.
- Price: $79.99 USD for this kit ($29.99 USD for the must haves kit and $3.99 USD for the Accessories if you don’t own them)
- Availability: ULTA, Drugstore.com and other retailers
- Selection: Two kits available, the Pro Kit (shown here) and the Starter Kit. There are also 36 shades of LED Gel Polish to choose from plus some limited edition shades from time to time.
- Overall: A great at-home alternative to salon Shellac/Gelish manicures. The kit comes with (almost) everything you need, minus a few accessories which you might already have on hand. A great price for the entire kit, and an awesome selection of other colors! About 15-20 chip-free manicures that last about 2 weeks each for less than the price of 2 from the salon…amazing!
- Rating: A