Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel collection

Posted on Tuesday, at bought • 173 views

  • Manufacturer: Sally Hansen
  • Availability: beginning June 2014
  • Contains: 47 nail colors and a UV-activated gel-finish top coat
  • Cost/Amount: USD$10.00 for 14 ml / .5 fl oz (full retail price may vary up to $2.00 up or down, depending on the store's prices/policies)
  • Would you purchase again: yes
Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel collection

Sally Hansen enters the “gel-hybrid polish” fray with their Miracle Gel line. The polish doesn’t require a UV lamp to cure, it says that it doesn’t require a base coat, and the UV-activated top coat will bond to the polish, and cure, with about 30 minutes of sun/UV exposure. It comes off with regular polish remover (I use Zoya’s Remove+, which I have LOTS of; and it comes off just fine.) The initial line has 46 shades plus the UV-activated top coat. I currently only have three polishes, and will be waiting a bit before buying more.

Initial reviews on blogs showed a larger-than-average percentage of people who did not get any extended wear from this polish, likely due to their body chemistry. Almost every blog has mentioned that the polish is a bit thicker, that the top coat tends to "pull" up polish, and that for those that this polish does work for, it does indeed last quite a long time. One blog (which I've now lost the link to - bad me!) had two testers who work in the food hospitality industry, and so their hands get a hefty amount of daily abuse from repeated hand-washing. This polish lasted four days for them, far longer than other polishes tend to last on them. (Apparently, when a polish lasts through one day with only minor tip wear, it's cause for celebration.) On this same blog, though, it was mentioned that two of their other product testers tried this polish, and got chips and dings on the first day. So it's definitely not going to be a polish for everyone.

I got a few of the "sets" which included one bottle of the top coat, and one colored nail polish. The polish generally retails for USD$7 to USD$10 per bottle, varying depending on the pricing of the store/chain/area. I've done three manicures with this line, and thus far my observations are:

  1. while Sally Hansen claims that this polish doesn't require a base coat, I got easier first-coat application and a longer-lasting manicure when I did use a base coat - in my, case, CND Stickey.
  2. the first coat of polish goes on solid, but can be semi-sheer or maybe about 75% sheer. A second coat is definitely needed, at least for me.
  3. the second coat will go on thicker, so I found that I was happier with the results if I left the polish plenty of time to fully dry before adding the second coat, or the top coat.
  4. the top coat is thicker than most top coats I've used. I tend to be happier with the results if I essentially pat this top coat in place, using two "pats" per nail (three for the thumbnails, which are much wider and uneven besides.)
  5. the top coat will pull up the underlying color a little bit, sometimes leaving behind a bald spot or streak. This, in my mind, is another good argument for "pat"-plication rather than the more standard "strokes." You can simply wipe the brush clean on a paper towel.
  6. when the manicure goes well, I can get six (6) days with minimal or no tip wear. When I don't let the coats dry fully, I get dings and rub-offs fairly quickly.
  7. minor tip wear is easy to repair: a dab of the polish, a pat of the top coat, 15 minutes in the sun, et voila. When I had a 6-day-long manicure, I had to do minor repairs on days 4 and 6. I finally decided, the morning of Day 7, to remove the polish and try another shade, just for variety.

Additionally, a few other bloggers have mentioned that the polish dries out in the bottle and becomes unusable fairly quickly, which is VASTLY different behavior from most other nail polishes that I've used. They have also mentioned that the top coat thickens faster than they're used to, making it more difficult to work with. Since I've read these reviews, I've held off buying up all the colors from this collection that look interesting to me. Either Sally Hansen will revamp the formula in a year, like they did with the Custom Salon Manicure line; or I'll have to use up the colors that I have before buying other shades, so that I'm not throwing away money. The top coat can apparently be used with any nail polish...but given its behavior during application, and its cost relative to other top coats, I'm not totally convinced that I want to use it with any other polishes. I'd also like to figure out if I can use this polish with nail stamping, either before or after applying the UV-activated top coat. I'm guessing that much of the fine detail would be messed up by the top-coat application; but the polish itself is nice and thick, good for nail stamping.

Because of the cost of this polish, PLUS the wider-seeming-than-average reports of difficulties with body chemistry, PLUS the reports that this polish and its required top coat thicken faster than other polishes, I would strongly recommend getting this polish on sale, or get one of the "duos" that are essentially a $1 discount on the per-bottle price, and include the all-important top coat. That way you can try it a few times and see if this polish works for you, or not. THEN you can go back and get additional bottles. (Reminder that, in the US, Walgreen's has an excellent return policy that won't leave you out $16+ if you're one of the folks for whom this product won't work well.)

This collection contained:

  • Clear UV-activated top coat — comes in an opaque black bottle, to protect the contents from UV exposure

Flawlessly Nude

  • Birthday Suit
  • Bare Dare
  • How Nude
  • Tan-acious
  • Truffle Shuffle

Love Pinks

  • Pinky Promise
  • Pink Cadillacquer
  • Rosey Riveter
  • Pinky Rings
  • Pink Up
  • Pretty Piggy
  • Pink Talk

Street Pastels

  • All Chalked Up
  • B-Girl
  • Throwing Shade
  • Greyfitti
  • Street Flair
  • Camo Queen
  • Grey Matters

Runway Shock

  • Electra-Cute
  • Shockwave
  • Short Cir-cute
  • Redgy
  • Hydro-Electric
  • Style Maker
  • Tidal Wave

Daily Delights

  • Sugar Fix
  • Malibu Peach
  • Lemon Heaven
  • Smartease
  • Wet My Thistle
  • Tea Party
  • Creme de la Creme

Mad Mod

  • Dig Fig
  • Get Mod
  • Blacky-O
  • Red Eye
  • Winestock
  • Twiggy
  • Mad Women

Fired Up Metallics

  • Game of Chromes
  • Too Haute
  • Super Charge
  • Combustealable
  • Hunger Flames
  • Spice Age
  • Purplexed

Other questions that I have are:

  • does the UV-activated top coat have a "shelf life"? I know that many of the thermal-activated polishes on the market carry warnings that they may "stop working"/stop showing signs of the thermal-activated color change after one year. Is this polish, or its top coat, similar?
  • since both the polish and the top coat tend to thicken faster than other polishes, how can consumers safely thin this polish? Will regular nail-polish thinner cause problems with the chemical reaction that hardens the top-coat when exposed to sunlight?
  • does the "sunlight exposure" have to be direct sunlight? Or is indirect sunlight / sunlight through fog sufficient to trigger the chemical reaction between the top coat and the polish itself? (This could mean that, for folks like myself who live in coastal rain forests, this polish formula will effectively be seasonal...unless we invest in a UV lamp for our homes. Which kind of kills the "at home gel manicure with no lamp" selling point.)

I asked these questions to Sally Hansen via Twitter on September 9, a few minutes after they'd responded to another blogger's remarks about this collection; but received no response.

I currently have Birthday Suit, Grey Matters, and Pink Tank. There are several other colors in the line that look interesting to me, including Blacky O, Wine Stock, Spice Age, Purplexed, Style Maker, Street Flair, and Game of Chromes. But I want to wait and see if Sally Hansen reformulates the line to avoid the thickening problems that many others have mentioned. I'd hate to pay this much for these polishes, and only get two or three manicures per color out of them.

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