So I've learned a helluva lot about soak offs since I bought my Shellac set in October. And being a total cheap ass I find it completely frustrating with the limited availability and exorbitant pricing. So I was thrilled to find that we had a second easy access option in Canada via Shoppers Drug Mart.
Quo by Orly introduced a new gel line a couple of weeks ago. The colours sell for $10CAD for 4.4ml and the Top/Base coat is $15 for 15ml. Not cheap at all.
On the left we have a full size Gelish at 15ml (normal average polish size).
Next up is the Gelish Mini at 9ml.
Quo by Orly is 4.4ml.
And lastly is Red Carpet Manicure at 9ml (Rumor has it that Gelish and RCM are manufactured by the same company).
Shellac (not pictured) is 7.3ml.
Ez Flow TruGel (not pictured is 14ml).
So if I compare these to the prices I paid (CAD and USD are almost at par right now anyways):
Gelish full size $12.95/15 = $.86/ml
Gelish Mini $18.95/9 = $2.11/ml
Quo by Orly $10/4.4 = $2.27/ml
RCM $9.99/9 = $1.11/ml
Shellac $14.85/7.3 = $2.03/ml
Ez Flow TruGel $8.95/14 = $.64
Clearly we're paying sometimes more than double here in Canada and that really sucks. One thing that's very important to mention in the pricing comparison is that there is more value for your money when it comes to the original Shellac.
The two reds in the middle are Shellac Red Baroness on the left and Ez Flow TruGel in Racy Red on the right. Red Baroness is only two super thin coats and Racy Red is 3 thicker coats. So a little bit of Shellac goes a long way compared to other soak off gels. CND claims that 1 bottle of Shellac will average 20 manicures. I think you'd be hard pressed to get 20 manicures out of the 9ml Gelish Minis when you have to apply a minimum of 3 coats. The problem with Shellac is that it's not really available in Canada without a license.
So just for fun I swatched a bunch of my new soak off gels on a wheel. From L-R:
Ez Flow TruGel in Lil' Dress (3 coats) + Gelish Good Gossip (1 coats)
Quo by Orly in First Class (1 coat only) - yes it's really Orly Rage :)
Ez Flow TruGel in Racy Red (2 coats) + Gelish Good Gossip (1 coat)
Red Carpet Manicure in Toast of the Town (2 coats)
Gelish Amazon Flirt (3 coats)
And these are all 3 coats of Ez Flow TruGel in Lil' Dress with one coat of each of my Gelish Aurora EFxs, from L-R:
Gelish The Great Googly Moogly
Gelish Oocha Coocha Bing Bang Bam Alakazy Alakazam (f-you for these ridiculous names H&NH!)
Gelish Ali Baba's Sim Sala Bim
Gelish Close Your Fingers and Cross Your Eyes
So my own personal verdict on soak offs is this:
1. Base Coat - Shellac is for me, hands down, the only one that works as it should and has easy removal.
2. Colours - Go with the cheapest. My experience has been that the colour coats really don't make a difference in staying power. Gelish has the biggest variety of colours and if you can get the full size bottle they are a much better deal. The number of coats you have to apply plays a rather large role in this decision as well since if you're using a UV lamp like I am, a 2 coat manicure can take an hour or more. If you're using a colour like Ez Flow TruGel in Racy Red and you want a little sparkle to it, for example, your manicure can take an hour and a half+ when you consider: base coat, 3 coats of colour, 1 coat of sparkle, and top coat. Curing times are 2 minutes each with a UV lamp. The thicker consistency colours like most of Shellac's line take much less polish and have minimal pooling which makes for faster and easier cleanup.
3. Top Coat - I've only tried Shellac and Gelish for the top coat and I prefer Gelish mostly because of availability and price. Not even several coats of Seche Vite can replicate that amazing long-lasting shine.
4. If you live in Canada, order from the US. Amazon has a great selection of several brands of soak offs at amazing prices. Even with shipping prices it's still much cheaper than getting hosed up here!