Could this product mean no more visits to the nail salon for French tips?

I am a bit excited about the product that I'm about to review because it is the first viable alternative that I’ve found to getting French tip acrylics done at a nail salon.

I like French tipped nails. I mean I really like them. They look very feminine and elegant, and they are also functional -- opening up cans/salad dressing bottles and typing is much easier.

I like French tipped nails to the point where I've endured rude nail ladies and nail damaging acrylic applications to get them. This is what acrylic does to your nails:

Yea, no good. Whenever I go to a new nail salon I get into this long and awkward conversation with the nail ladies about how I can get just a tip with a gel application on top. They say it's impossible; that you need to get acrylic. I could never understand why -- I guess because the tips they use aren't strong enough to last with just gel on top.

So I decided to go to a pharmacy and check out the various options they have for French tips. They had a lot of different nails that you can paste on top of your nail but I know from experience that they aren't always very strong and secure.

Suddenly the heavens opened and I saw this product hanging from the display. It was the very last one in stock and cost just $9.99.

It is called Broadway Nails Real Life Brush-On Gel Nail Kit. (There was some type of sticker on it that said it was only available for sale at that store, so it may have been part of some type of trial testing in certain areas.)

The product is super simple to use: 1) apply the tip, 2) apply the first gel coating and then 3) apply the activator on top. There are 48 tips in the box in various sizes with easy applicator tabs. The tabs are numbered and lettered but I didn't understand the system. I just tested the tip over each nail before applying them.

The only part I was confused about was how to stick the tips to the top of your nail so that they stay on while you apply the top coats. I just went and got my fast drying nail glue (glue didn't come in the box). It worked perfectly.

So, when you apply the gel and activator it sets the tip in place and you get this strong semi-thick shiny coating. 

These are the results:

The box says that the activator sets in 5 minutes but I found that it was still a little sticky 10 minutes later. I was in a rush, so I went to the store and bought a fast drying clear topcoat. Applied it, it dried nicely and I was all set.

I got plenty of compliments on my nails -- they really do look like I had them done at a salon. I wore them for a weekend and this was my experience:
  • The tips are firm and durable. I could click around on a keyboard or rap them on a table just like I would with acrylics.
  • As firm as the tips were, they were super easy to file and shape (a good file was provided in the box).
  • The gel and activator do a pretty good job of smoothing the surface so that you don't see where the tip ends on your nail.
  • I was very happy with the way my nails looked and will be using this whenever I want French tips. 
There were some drawbacks:
  • The activator and gel stained easily so I had to keep scrubbing the tips whenever I got makeup or something on them. Another solution to the staining was to lightly file the top of the tip and reapply the gel, activator and top coat.
  • A few of the tips started to come off on the second day but all I had to do was pick out another couple of tips (or reapply the same ones) with the glue more securely and do the process over again. I decided to get a better nail glue (the glue I used at first was a cheaper brand) and they were a lot more secure.
  • The nails don't last as long as acrylics. Whereas I can wear acrylics for 2+ weeks without a problem, these will, at best, last a week before cracking or coming off.
  • When you reapply nails that came loose, you can see the line where they separated from the gel. If that bothers you remove the gel and do the nail over again.

Removal: I tried removing one nail completely to see how that process would go. Just soak the nail in polish remover for a minute or two and wipe or file the layer of gel and activator off. The one thing I can't comment on just yet is how your nails will look underneath after a while of wearing these (gel can be a little harsh on the nails as well), but I have a feeling it is not going to be as harsh on my nail bed as the acrylic. I will update this post in the future.

As I said, I was in a rush to do my nails on this day so I think they will come out even better when I have a moment to sit down and take my time with them. 

So basically I got the pretty French nails that I wanted for about $10 plus $6 for the top coat and the cost of nail glue.  About $20 should cover me for 2 or 3 applications. Compare that to spending $50 or more at a salon for acrylics or a silk wrap with $25 fill-ins.

Valuable tips if you’re planning to try this nail system as an alternative to going to the salon:

- Set aside plenty of time to do your nails in peace, without any possibility of touching anything for at least an hour.
- Get a good nail glue, like this one, that dries in 5 seconds.
- Get a good shiny top coat (this is the exact one I used) that seals and dries quickly.
- Set the tip lower on your nail bed than I did so that it has room to grow.
- Apply the gel and activator liberally to ensure it is coated well.
- Don’t apply lipstick, foundation or any other makeup until the nails are completely dried.
- If you're going to do dishes while wearing these, wear rubber gloves.

There's one more perk: if you're not a French tip lover like me and just want clean nails that you can paint with your favorite polish, half of the tips in the box are clear.

4 stars out of 5, mostly due to the good looks and great price.

Here is a comparison review of 3 deep dark red lipsticks that I found at my local pharmacy. Guess which one I liked the best...

I haven't worn lipstick in what seems like ages -- maybe because I couldn't find the right color, maybe because I was tired of it staining my teeth and shirts, I'm not sure.

For some reason lately I've been inspired to start wearing lipstick again. I've seen a lot of fly sisters rocking that deep dark red lately and it got my attention. So I decided to try out a few from a pharmacy -- Black Opal Color Splurge in Wine Not, Black Radiance #5033 (Midnight Glow) and Milani Chocolate Berries

Here are the results:

Black Opal Colorsplurge in Wine Not

This one was nice and supple on my lips, but I had to put a lot of coats on before it took on that deep darker red color. Nice matte texture. Looking at the pictures now I probably should have put on a few more coats. Had some trouble with it getting on my teeth at first (maybe I just put too much on at the inside lip).

I was pleasantly surprised by Black Radiance, because it was the most affordable brand out of the three (I think it was on sale for under $3) It had a very smooth application and complete coating of the lips without much effort. Really nice matte finish but still a bit of a shine. Kept my lips feeling moist and gives me that perfect deep red that I was looking for.

Milani in Chocolate Berries

I liked the color of the Milani lipstick, but I wasn't too crazy about the application/coverage. Also, after looking at it on my lips I wouldn't count this as a deep dark red, more of a brown. Darkened crumbly skin made it look one of those 99 cent lipstick brands at first, but after a bit of adjustment it smoothed out. It's a nice neutral color.

My pick: I really liked all three of these lipsticks (something that almost NEVER happens when I shop for cosmetics at a pharmacy) but out of the three the Black Radiance stood out. It's soft, that ideal sensual red and it keeps my lips feeling moist.