I tested out this $44 at home gel mani kit: Here's my honest review

Kate Mendonca
Shopping Editor

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Now that it’s been roughly a week since I’ve been exclusively working from home, my nails have definitely seen better days. Extensive hand washing, sanitizing and general use have decimated the previous manicure I had done, and it showed.

While I would normally just pop into my local salon to get a quick manicure, most beauty services like nail salons, spas and hairdressers have shut their doors in order to help contain the spread of coronavirus. 

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In light of the current global situation, I was curious about whether any of the at-home alternatives that bill themselves as being just as effective as a professional manicure are worth investing in. To find out, I got started with Le Mini Macaron

What is it?

I’d recently heard about the brand’s Gel Manicure Kit, the affordable nail kit that retails for $44. The cost is slightly more than the average gel manicure at a salon, but with dozens of applications possible with a single bottle of polish, the cost per use of Le Mini Macaron ends up being much lower. 

Each kit comes with everything you’d need for an at-home pampering session, including an LED lamp with USB cord, a gel polish, a cuticle stick, and a mini nail file. It also includes 10 remover wraps to take off your polish once you’re ready. 

Each nail polish has a 9-free formulation (free from the most harmful chemicals often found in nail polish), is cruelty-free, and lasts for 7-10 days. 

How does it work?

Following the instructions, I got started by pushing back my cuticles and lightly filing the surface of my nails. I then used an acetone-based nail polish remover to wipe off any dust, in order to ensure proper adhesion of the nail polish.

Next, I applied a very thin coat of gel polish before placing each nail under the mini LED light to cure. After 30 seconds, the first coat had dried, and I was able to repeat the process for a second coat. Done!

Testing out Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit in Cassis.

The results

While it may seem like it would be a time-consuming process to have to paint and cure each nail one by one, with a movie on in the background (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason for anyone who’s curious), it ended up being a fun and relaxing way to spend a half hour of my night. Once the final nail had been painted and cured, there was no additional time that I had to avoid using my hands like there is with traditional nail polish, so I’d say it was a half hour very well spent. 

I initially had low expectations about the durability of Le Mini Macaron’s gel polish, but was pleasantly surprised with the results. My nails were left with a high-shine finish that lasted through chores, hand washing and general wear and tear without a problem.

I actually made the mistake of leaving some laundry in the wash while I got started on my manicure, so by the time I was done I needed to transfer everything into the dryer. Luckily, not a single nail was smudged or chipped in the process, even though it had been barely five minutes since I finished painting my nails. 

The verdict

Time will tell whether this polish actually holds up longer than a week, but based on first impressions I’ll be keeping it around while I await the day that I can head back into a nail salon.

Considering that this manicure kit is affordable, offers long-wearing nail polish and comes in a range of colours (additional nail polishes can be purchased through Le Mini Macaron’s site for $12 USD) I’d give this a resounding stamp of approval. While there is room for user error if you’re not used to applying your own polish, it’s nothing that a little practice won’t improve over time. 

Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit

Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit in Cassis. Image via Urban Outfitters.

SHOP IT: Urban Outfitters, $44

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