Review: What happened when we tried an at-home gel polish manicure set?

We tried out the DIY Provacater at home gel polish kit and we didn't do too badly. If you want to try a DIY gel polish we'll tell you the pros and cons.

Provacater has a Professional Hybrid system that contains all the components needed to do your own version of a gel manicure. You might know of this manicure as a 'Shellac' manicure, as Shellac is one of the most used brands in salons. It's also known as the two-week manicure and tends to be harder and longer wearing than a regular polish.

The Provocater Professional Hybrid System is ideal if you (like me) rarely take a trip to a beauty salon. I love getting crafty and I love beauty so I have always enjoyed trying to do my own beauty treatments. I also find it difficult to find the time to get to the salon for said treatments. If I'm going to a salon I want a gorgeous relaxing facial or massage so I love the idea of doing your own manicure at home. I also love that the removal kit is included so I don't have to take a second half-hour trip to the salon just to have it removed! Doesn't it sound much more appealing to wrap your nails in acetone and wait for it to work while you sit in front of the TV at home during those precious out-of work-hours?

Provocater starter set

The Provocater Gel Polish Starter Set €69.99

I was very apprehensive to do this at home by myself in case I made a complete mess of it. I am a makeup artist, not a trained beautician, so this is out of my comfort zone. With it being a two-week manicure, surely mistakes would be more difficult to fix? I think the key to this is preparation. You need to set up your manicure station before you start. Make sure that everything is within easy reach. I unscrewed the lids of the nail polishes and the cleaner. I soaked six pads in cleaner and had the wooden corrector sticks ready for accidental blobs.

The manicure took me about 30 minutes start to finish. Set up beforehand took me about 10 minutes - that included making tea and unwrapping chocolate and putting on MTV to watch while I worked. I literally didn't need to move while I painted.

Instructions don't come with the pack. Instead, like most things these days, it has instructions on the website in the FAQ. I kept the page open beside me on my phone so all I had to do was tap to make sure I was on track. The polish is thicker than a usual nail polish. I made sure there was very little on the brush. You need to apply thin layers with as little strokes as possible so as not to get bubbles in the paint. Also, because of the gel texture, it acts differently to a nail polish. It recedes a little from the tip of the nail and the cuticles. Once I had painted each hand, I went back and filled in the tip of the nail again before setting them under the lamp.

The Pros
  • The kit is quite straightforward and easy to use
  • The brush on the nail polish is well shaped for precise application. It is slanted, almost like an eyeliner brush. You need to flip the brush 180 degrees when doing each side of the nail. When you are painting down the right side of your nail you want the more rounded side of the brush nearest the skin at the edge of the nail
  • The kit has tools to help you fix little mistakes
  • All of the removal tools are included so you can get it off before it starts to look shabby
  • The lamp is lightweight and easy to use
  • The finished result was almost as good as an in-salon gel polish. I loved the result
  • The colour is a beautiful red; a pillar box red as I like to call it
  • The manicure is still perfect on the remaining nails (some peeled off) 7 days later. No chips!
The Cons
  • The online instructions advise you to use a primer before the base coat which isn't included in the kit. However, I went ahead and painted my nails without it and I think this might be the reason some of the nails peeled off
  • The wire is a little short on the LED lamp so you will need to set up your manicure station next to a plug socket
  • The kit only comes in one shade so if you don't like red you will need to buy another shade of polish
  • A couple of my nails peeled off throughout the week; one the very next day and then two more as the week went on
My final thoughts

This is a genius kit to have at home if you are a busy gal. I know so many ladies who work on the road, working mums, stay-at-home mums with multiple kids and generally busy women who don't get the time to go to the salon. I am one of those people who only remembers the night before a big event I haven't done my nails. This week, these nails saw me through two nights out and a two-day photoshoot. I used a nail oil throughout the week to make sure my nails stayed hydrated underneath. They are in perfect condition since removing the polish. I will definitely use it again but I will invest in the primer for next time.


Header image via CSG Womens Thermals


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