September 29, 2022

DIYClearSkin

Define Beauty Yourself

Everything you need to know

When it comes to beauty, most of us have one ‘treat yourself’ thing that we just can’t go without. For some, it could be lash extensions, eyebrow lamination, or a fresh cut and colour every 6-8 weeks. For me, it’s a fresh set of nails.

As hard as I try, I’m not much of a saver. For a good few years, I made empty promises that I would cut down on my religious trips to the salon. Not because I didn’t love to show off my beautifully manicured nails at every given opportunity (I really did), but because it was a practical choice. And by practical, I mean financial.

When I finally came to terms with the fact that my nail apps had to slow down, I made it my mission to find a suitable alternative. In pursuit of finding salon-worthy nails without the salon prices, I tried pretty much every at-home option on the shelves.

Press-ons pinged off like they were never stuck on in the first place; my shoddy DIY attempts at cool nail art were just embarrassing, and regular nail varnish wasn’t enough to satisfy my salon-influenced standards. So, each time I was faced with a chipped nail, I ran back to the salon and had a ‘who do I think I am’ moment, dropping my weekly budget on another set of acrylics.

All in all, I thought that nothing could live up to the salon-esque finish that it seems only the dexterity of a nail technician’s hands can achieve. But, you’d be surprised that with the right tools and a bit (well, a sufficient amount) of time, you can achieve a result that is pretty similar.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Enter: Polygel nails. When I first saw them trending on TikTok I initially scrolled past the hype, because how could DIY manicures look that good? Even with my impressive CV of experience in at-home nail kits, it was a ‘too good to be true’ feeling.

However, as the hype continued and my bank balance kept dropping, my unfavourable F.O.M.O stepped in and I had to give it a go. And to be honest, I was genuinely gobsmacked by the results.

But first: what are Polygel nails?

Polygel was originally created for nail techs; however, to our delight, it’s now available for us to buy. Essentially, it’s a nail extender gel that combines acrylic powder and a thick clear gel. While the process of application is very different from what you have at a salon, the overall result is very similar. It gives you the durability and finish of an acrylic overlay or extension, but the flexible application of a gel.

Unlike acrylic powder used in salons, Polygel comes premixed in a toothpaste-like tube that you can apply directly over your nails to build an extension or form a natural overlay. For the untrained wannabe nail tech (like myself), Polygel has a putty-like texture that allows you to shape the gel but won’t set until it’s cured under a LED lamp (so feel free to make as many mistakes as you’d like).

Pros and Cons

Before we head into how you use Polygel, let’s start with the pros and cons I discovered while putting it to the test.

Pros

  • My commitment issues with DIY nail kits have made me believe that nothing could ever top the finish of an in-salon treatment. But, just like acrylic nails, Polygel can be used to sculpt, overlay, infill, and extend your natural nails and essentially, the result is fairly alike. Apart from a few gel spillages and a wobbly hand with the polish, I was left with a sturdy set of Polygel extensions. So, yes, no matter how unrealistic it seems on the surface, you can actually create nails that pass as a salon job.
    • One of the best features of Polygel is its longevity. As it’s a gel-acrylic hybrid, it’s more flexible so is likely to last longer than an acrylic extension. However, all good things do come to an end as the gel will usually last around 3-4 weeks before you need infills or an unwelcomed ‘snap off’ needs replacing.
      • Believe it or not, Polygels are actually better for your nail health than acrylics. The classic gel formula is lighter: this means it puts less strain on your natural nails but is just as durable.
        • Obviously the overall savings are the biggest draw here. While the Mylee Magic Extender Gel (the Polygel) is only £15, you’ll also need a few add-ons to successfully create the look including a base and top coat, slip solution, dual-ended tool and an LED lamp (if you don’t own one already). However, even if you opt for the whole pro-level kit, which includes the top and base coat, lamp and a selection of gel colours, as well as the bits needed for the Polygel, you’re still saving a huge amount on your regular salon trips.

          Clare Stephenson

          Cons

          • From start to finish, the process of applying the gel is quite time-consuming. As a first-time user, it took me around an hour and a half to complete the look. However, in the grand scheme of things, the overall time is not much more than an average outing to the salon.
            • In terms of application, it was a fiddly affair that surely was a hit-and-miss scenario. It’s slightly intricate work, but nothing that a bit of patience can’t solve.

              What do you need?

              To get started, you need to add a few bits to your at-home nail collection. If you haven’t already got one, a LED lamp is needed to cure the extender gel into place. While outright they may cost more than a single nail app, they are *much* more cost-effective in the long run: a kit that will last you years falls into the same price range as a few salon trips. If you’re just wanting the lamp, the Mylee Pro LED Lamp is a great option, or, if you’re after the whole shebang, the brand’s Lamp Kit comes with the tools you’ll need to create at-home gel nails (another great money-saving DIY kit to have in your collection).

              You’ll also need Polygel, obvs. The Mylee Magic Extender Gels can be used to build the desired shape and length of your nails and create the illusion of an acrylic. The gels come in a variety of neutral shades – which look beautifully chic on their own — or you can layer a coat of gel or polish on top to add colour.

              To make shaping the Polygel easier, don’t skip out on Slip Solution and Dual Ended Tool as it’ll make the process of shaping and extending the gel virtually impossible without them.

              Looking for longer nails? You’ll need the Mylee Dual Nail forms to shape the Polygel into a strong nail extension.

              How do you apply?

              Mastering Polygel application comes with experience: you really have to learn on the job to find the best tactic for you. But, in a nutshell, this is a step-by-step guide on application.

              1. Start by shaping your nails and remove any residue using the Mylee Prep and Polish (included with the LED kit).
              2. Apply a thin layer of a base coat and cure under the lamp for 60 seconds.
              3. Now, Polygel time. Pick out the shade of Polygel you want and squeeze a pea-sized amount onto the plate of your nail.
              4. Use the Dual Ended brush dipped into the Slip Solution and mold the gel to match the shape of your nail.
              5. Cure again for 60 seconds
              6. Then use a nail file to smooth out blunt edges and use the Prep and Polish to remove residue.
              7. Apply a thin layer of the top coat and cure for 30 seconds.
              8. At this stage, you can use a gel polish instead if you’re wanting to change the colour of the Polygel.
              9. Finalise with another wipe using the Prep and Polish, et voila.
                1. If you’re wanting to extend your natural nail follow the first 3 steps, but instead of shaping the Polygel to your natural nail, press the gel down using a nail form and use the brush to pull out the gel to the length you want. Cure for 60 seconds and simply snap off the form to reveal an extension.

                  Or, if you’re more of a visual learner, see my TikTok guide below:

                  This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

                  My final thoughts: Is Polygel worth the hype?

                  Safe to say, my loyalty card for my local salon will no longer be punched. With so many nail concepts promising salon-worthy nails, I had become accustomed to the feeling of false hope. So, to find a kit that genuinely delivers (even in my inexperienced hands) is something I never thought I’d see come out of the nail industry. Not only has it already saved me trips to the salon but has made my debit card so much happier too. I don’t think you have any excuse not to give it a go.

                  polygel nail review

                  Clare Stephenson

                  Or, alternatively, if you aren’t keen on a longer extension you can use the polygel to create shorter, acrylic overlay-esque nails. The choice is yours.

                  polygel nail review

                  Clare Stephenson