Review: Sally Hansen Salon Insta-Gel Strips Gel Manicure Starter Kit

Gel nail manicures are gaining in popularity, due to their instantly dry, long-wearing high-gloss finish. For a long time, gels were mostly considered an in-salon service, since it takes several coats of different products that have to be cured under a special UV lamp. Not only is it time-consuming, but both the products and the lamp aren’t exactly cheap. So unless you had a manicurist’s license, you weren’t getting your hands on a gel system.

My, my, my…how the times have changed!

Sally Hansen just released a fool-proof way to get a salon-inspired gel manicure, with their new Salon Insta-Gel Strips Starter Kit. Everything you need to complete a set of gel nails at-home is at your fingertips! If you’re capable of applying a nail sticker and a single layer of top coat, you can use the Salon Insta-Gel Strips system.

What’s inside:

  • 1 mini LED lamp with automatic timer
  • gel top coat
  • 16 gel polish strips
  • 2 nail cleanser pads
  • cuticle stick, file, and buffer 

I think a gel polish strip-based gel system is BRILLIANT! So many of us struggle to apply polish without making an absolute mess of our cuticles. Strips are a complete no brainer in that department! For most of us, a strip is much easier to apply than a coat of polish, so this just makes sense. The base coat and gel polish are embedded in the strip, which then you apply a clear gel top coat and cure for 30 seconds under the mini LED lamp. Easy, right?

How to apply…

The only real issue I had was that some of the strips weren’t proportional to my nails, so I can see a few gaps. Since this is such a sheer pink shade (it’s called Shell We Dance), it’s very forgiving. But I imagine if I had worn a darker shade, it would be more obvious. Also, the gel strips seem a little bit more stiff than a regular polish strip, so it may take a few extra seconds of pressing on before the warmth from your fingertips allows them to adhere better.

To remove, just saturate a small piece of cotton with an acetone-based polish remover, and wrap tightly with foil for five minutes. Then, use the enclosed cuticle stick to push the gel off of your nails. And when you’re ready for a new manicure? All you have to do is buy a box of the Salon Insta-Gel Strips that are available individually.

Sally Hansen promises you can get up to two weeks of wear out of these, but I’m not sure on that yet since it’s only been 5 days for me. The good news is—I don’t have a single chip at time of publishing, and my nails still have a glossy finish.

Some helpful hints for a smooth application:

  • Start off with clean, dry nails. Make sure they’re free of any oils or residue from a prior manicure.
  • Don’t forget to seal the ends of your nails with the gel top coat prior to curing under the lamp.
  • After applying the strips to all 10 fingers, apply the gel top coat and cure it under the lamp, one nail at a time.
  • Gently press down, then smooth the strip out with the warmth from your fingertips to help the strips adhere better. They become more pliable and forgiving as they warm up.

Bottom Line…

These are SO easy to use! If you’re capable of applying a nail sticker and applying a top coat—these are a cinch to wear.

Price & Availability…

$27.99, drugstores and mass retailers nationwide

Sally Hansen’s Salon Insta-Gel Strips™ is a breakthrough, 2 step chip-resistant gel manicure that lasts up to 2 weeks. Exclusive to Sally Hansen, you can get a fast and easy gel manicure in 2 Easy Steps! Just simply peel and apply.  The gel top coat provides a durable manicure and nails appear flawless and shiny for up to 2 weeks.  The UV-cured real nail polish appliqués that are nourished with additives such as Vitamin E and they are removed with Acetone polish remover in 5 minutes.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Sally Hansen via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Sally Hansen.
  • Candice Chorny

    Do you think these will last even longer without chips than the regular Sally Hanson nail strips? Can you use other Gel ‘Lamps’ or is this one different? Could you use this mini LED lamp with regular Gel polish?

  • Amber

    Hi Candice! I do think these last longer than regular polish strips, but I haven’t had the system long enough to experiment with other lamps/polish combos. I’m so sorry I don’t know the answer yet!

  • Sarah Kathleen

    I got the starter kit (and a couple of other polish designs) for
    Christmas this morning. I was wondering the same thing, if you can use other at-home gel polishes with the lamp.

  • Amber

    Sorry, Sarah! I still haven’t tried it yet–but to be honest, if the polish you apply it over is 100% dry, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. My only thought why it wouldn’t work, is because the strips are embedded with a UV base coat. So perhaps doing it without the Sally Hansen strips wouldn’t last as long.

  • Amanda Travers

    I have used up all of my cleanser pads…do you know what i can use instead of the cleanser pads? They feel sticky when I don’t use them,

  • Amber

    You can use regular rubbing alcohol :)

  • Amber

    The polish probably won’t work without the base coat—these kits are usually formulated to work together and most gels require a base to anchor the color to the nail plate.

    Bummer that the strips didn’t last longer for you! I think the key is making sure to seal the ends/tips of your nails and that the gel coat application isn’t too thin or too thick. Maybe try applying a little more to seal the ends next time, but not too much. You don’t want to end up with a ridge.