Hello! Last week I mentioned that I’d been trying out soak-off gels for a couple of weeks, so here is the review for you. I was kindly sent the NYK1 Secrets Gel Starter Kit to try out and review. Gel nails are totally new to me, I’ve always been a bit nervous to try them as the process seemed a little tricky, so this has also been a fun learning experience for me! With this in mind, I just want to disclose that I am in no way trained professionally or otherwise in gel nails, so my experience *could* be subject to my own lack of my experience – and I wouldn’t recommend that you take my advice as given, it’s literally just what has worked/hasn’t worked for me 🙂
As you can see, you get a pretty comprehensive kit! There’s a lot of products included so I’ll list them below:
- 1 36W UV Curing Lamp
- 4 NYK1 Secrets Gel Polish bottles (10ml) in colours of your choice.
- 1 NYK1 Secrets UV/LED Top Coat
- 1 NYK1 Secrets UV/LED Base Coat
- 1 NYK1 Instruction manual
- 1 NYK1 Prep & Shine Sticky Residue Remover
- 1 NYK1 Acetone Remover (100ml)
- 1 CND Solar Oil (3.7ml)
- 1 Pack of lint-free wipes (200 wipes)
- 1 Pair of soak-off dishes
- 1 Pack of orange sticks (10)
- 1 Set of nail art brushes (3)
- 1 Metal cuticle pusher
- 1 Dappen dish
- 1 Buffer
- 1 Pair of toe separators
- 12 Pots of nail glitters in various colours
- 1 Box of 12 colours of rhinestones
- 1 Nail file
- 2 Nail wheels
- 1 ‘Diamante Magic Pick-up Pencil’ (I presume for picking up rhinestones!)
- A wee bit of cotton wool!
The only thing possibly missing is foil for removal using the foil method, but it’s not a big deal. Besides, they provide the soak-off finger dishes, if you’re happy to do it that way.
Onto the colours I received:
NYK1 Secrets Gel Seduction
Seduction is a lovely morello-cherry jelly base filled with red glitter. I felt very glam wearing it! This was the first get I tried, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s super glossy, you can’t feel any grittiness from the glitter and the wear was great. I got 4 days out of it before I had to take it off (due to other swatching needs!). It didn’t chip or lift at all in that time – the only thing I noticed was a tiny bit of tip wear but I think that could be because I applied it quite thickly. It was opaque in 2 thick-ish coats, or possibly 3 thin coats.
NYK1 Secrets Gel Helena
This is a very pretty blue-leaning lilac. It’s actually pretty vibrant, quite unlike any standard nail polish I own. I have it on my toes because I liked it so much! (I got a bit overexcited with it!). This one I ended up wearing for 7 days, during which I had slight lifting on one nail and it actually chipped on my right index finger, although I suspect that’s again probably more due to my application naivety than anything else – this one I also did pretty thick – eep! It was opaque in 2 thick coats (or probably more in 3 thin coats, as my 2 coats were really very thick!). I love the colour though.
NYK1 Secrets Gel Rosebud
This is a soft-ish pink, quite flattering. This one I didn’t try for any length of time, so can’t comment on the wear. I think this is probably my least favourite in terms of colour, but it’s a nice one for office-friendly wear. And you could always jazz it up with some glitter (something I didn’t get round to trying yet!). It’s opaque in 2 thin coats.
NYK1 Secrets Gel Hot Chillis
This is a vibrant jellyish pink filled with pink and blue shimmer. I liked this one a lot. But it did seem to shrink literally as I was applying it, even when I wrapped the tips, as you can probably see here. Maybe I just have to work faster lol. It was also impossible to photograph – hence the flash. It’s really very pretty in person. Opaque in 2-3 coats, some needed just 2 but a few were 3 for me.
Everything with the application went great – the instruction booklet included gives step-by-step directions on how to apply soak-off gel polish, the nail glitter, the rhinestones, and how to make a French manicure with gels, as well as instructions for extensions, overlays etc. (not included in this kit). They were definitely clear and comprehensive, so no issues there.
The lamp was also really good – it was easy to assemble and nice and roomy – I could fit my whole hand in at once which was good. It also has a timer setting, set to 2 minutes, which turns the lamp off automatically once you’re done. All of the other accessories did their job well too.
I know I didn’t wear the gels for too long – NYK1 claim that they will last for up to 2 weeks I think, and I feel quite confident that they would last at least 10 days.
I actually didn’t have any problems until the removal process. For a starter, my nails felt very tight and constricted throughout removal, to the point where my nail beds were actually pretty sore. Though this could be because my coats were thick. Secondly – the actual removing. At first I assumed it must be my technique or lack of experience, as the gels just didn’t want to come off. I used the foil method, where you soak a piece of cotton wool, put it on your nail, wrap foil around it to help it stay and maintain a warm environment and leave for 10 or so minutes. I ended up taking these off a good 4-5 times, and when I was removing Helena, it took me at least an hour to shift the best of it. I did also keep my hands on heat while removing, using advice from friends. I still have a sort of residue, which looks to me like the base coat stuck to my nails… I’ve buffed them to within an inch of their lives to get rid of it but nothing much doing. I think I’m going to have to just leave them til they grow out.
I spoke to a couple of my friends about my problems removing, and they all said it was unusual. And by checking out YouTube videos for removal tips/process, it looks like the gel actually reacts with acetone in a different way from most other gels. Where it’s supposed to come off (ideally) in one sheet, the NYK1 gels sort of crumbled round the edges, but held on for dear life over the rest of the nail. I couldn’t find much online except that Polly Polish had a similar experience, and Kamila of KittyKam’s Nails had a similar experience with BlueSky gels. Interesting.
This happened to me twice, with both the gels that I wore for any length of time. I also had severe drying of my skin from using the pure acetone the first time, so bought some CND Shellac Nourishing Remover after advice from a few blogger friends (who I will list at the bottom of this post), which did thankfully keep my skin nice and moisturised throughout the removal process. It smells nice of cucumber, too! But anyway, since that’s a professional product that most people find successful in efficient removal of gel polish, I think it must be something to do with the actual gel polish that NYK1 sells. If I’m totally honest, it has put me off using them again. I can’t tell yet whether it’s the gel colours, or the topcoat and base coat which are causing the issue, or both, so when I have invested in a different base coat and topcoat (like OPI) I will come back and update the post.
TL;DR: The gels are really bloody hard to remove, and I’m reluctant to try them again for that reason. But it doesn’t seem to be ‘normal’ for all soak-off gels, so don’t let that put you off them full stop.
**EDITED TO ADD** Andrea, the lady who created NYK1 Secrets has actually responded in the comments with some useful tips about removal, so if you are having problems or are concerned you may find her thoughts useful! Just scroll down to the bottom to see them 🙂
I do really think the kit is a good one, with all the items provided you won’t be needing anything for a good few applications. And if you do run out of anything, NYK1 Secrets does sell the products individually so you can top-up. I would be reluctant to recommend the gels themselves though – but will reserve final judgement until I’ve tried the colours with a different base & top coat. (Yep – I’m willing to take one for the team!).
If you want to buy the kit, it’s £102.95 here. You can also buy the kit with fixed colours here, for a bit cheaper. Or if you like having the choice of colours, you can buy it with 6, 8 or 10 colours of your choice here – which go up in price accordingly. I will say that they have a great colour range, and I can’t actually fault the application, but unfortunately the removal issues really lets the product down.
The lovely bloggers I mentioned above who have helped me with advice (or just by me reading their blogs!) who also have a lot of great posts about soak-off gel people are: Nail Lacquer UK, B Nailed to Perfection and Simply Into My Nails.
I hope my honest review helps you out! It’s always hard to write when things don’t quite go how you hoped them to, but I couldn’t be anything less than honest so what can ya do haha. I will still be using soak-off gels in future, as I really loved them while they were on and the amount of time and faffing it saves is really good, I just think I will invest in a good quality base coat and topcoat first!