Soak off UV Gel polishes are expensive, like crazy expensive. At Sally's a small .3oz bottle of Gelish is $18 here in Canada! Yes that's with a club card! I only bought 2 of them when they were on sale and used a coupon as well.
So here we have 3 coats of Gelish Oocha Coocha Bing Bang Bam - Alakazy Alakazam. I'm holding Zoya's Charla for comparison because it's actually pretty close in colour, just a tad less gold.
And here I added a coat of a chinese knock-off polish called Jun Yu and the colour is A52 - a multi-sized holographic glitter in a clear base. This polish cost me around $7 which is a bargain compared to the $18 Gelish and especially since it's double the size! However I've heard some terrible things about these knock-offs, specifically how they are insanely difficult to remove.
So I'm hoping with 3 layers of Gelish underneath that I won't have issues with removal but we shall see. I bought 5 of these and they are all layering polishes. I'm planning a trip to Michigan next week so I will likely pick up a few Gelish polishes from Sally's while I'm there because they're much cheaper in the US. Why do these have to be so friggen expensive?
So I've done a lot of reading and research on these polishes and I'll share some info with you in case anyone is considering doing their own soak off UV gel manis at home:
There are UV lights and LED lights for curing. Not all the polishes cure under LED but they all do under UV. LED lights are 3-5x the price of UV lights but the cure times are half that of UV. I use the CND Shellac UV lamp.
You need special base and top coats but the brands are all interchangeable as far as I can tell. Some work better than others. What works best for me is the Shellac base coat and the Gelish top coat.
It takes about an hour and a half, give or take, to do your own manicure. It takes about half an hour less to do it on someone else since you can paint one hand while the other cures. However you need to keep your brush and polish jar away from the lamp because the light will harden it.
Removal is the same tinfoil method used for glitter. With the Gelish top coat it needs a light surface filing first. I usually soak for about 15 minutes to be safe. With my Shellac base/Gelish top combo the polish comes off in a sheet and my nails are ready to go.
I had a bit of trouble for my first few manis but now that I've worked out the kinks I absolutely love it and think it was a great investment.