Gel manicures have been around a fair few years now. And in the last few months a wide range of at-home systems have come on the market.  As a keen home manicurist (for that read nail polish addict), it's long been something I've yearned after. But the thing with all these home systems is that they are fiddly and seem to have endless steps to complete. And, to be honest, that's put me off. After all, since I like to change my polish regularly, the idea of spending an hour and a half faffing about with various potions just doesn't do it for me.  If I was ever to get along with gel manicure,  I needed something simple. Something quick. Something fuss-free for those times when I just didn't have the time to keep re-doing my nails but which, when I wanted to change the colour, could easily be painted over one. And it just didn't exist.

Until now. Because now Haute Polish's brand new to the UK system gives me everything I wanted. What's most remarkable is that, for the first time in a home system, there is only one bottle needed - combining base, colour and top coats in one. 

Let's see what the folk at 'Haute Polish' say first. Here's their 'blurb':

"Now you can have salon quality gel nails at home in as little as 6 minutes! We made Haute Polish easy by innovating one ground breaking formulation that does it all. The Haute Polish formulation eliminates the need for typical "old fashion" adhesive gel base caot, colored gel lacquer and top-coat step, commonly known as "3-Step Gel" with the fast and easy "all-in-one" one-step Haute Polish. Haute Polish works as a self leveling base, color lacquer and protecting shine top-coat, all-in-one easy to use product.

Haute Polish features an "all-in-one" formula that eliminate the time and hassle of using multiple products and is available in 96 amazing colour shades.

Haute Polish delivers all of the great benefits and long wear of up to 14 days found in traditional gel nail polish, but without damaging or weakening your nails."

So, just how true are these claims? Well, pretty much entirely so! But, if you're going to pay out more than £60.00 to a set, you're going to want a better explanation that that, so let's look at the kit first. The version I have launched on QVC (as a Today's Special Value, no less), - nothing like a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee to encourage you to try out something new! It contained the following: the LED Smart light, 2 bottles of colour in Tickle (a sugary coral-pink) and Ecru (a beigy natural), 24 cleansing and finishing wipes, 10 detailing wands, a nail buffer and 48 removal pockets. And the all-important instruction leaflet. 

The light - Haute call it a  "smart" light since it talks you through the process  with the help of a character named 'Emily'.  is lightweight and has a fairly short cable, so you'll need to set up close to a power outlet, or use an extension cord. As for Emily? Well she's certainly useful for the first few attempts, but after a while, you'll probably want to disengage her.  This is easily done by depressing the 'on' button for five seconds. She confirms that you have switched off the verbal instructions and then goes quiet.

A freshly-completed, full gel manicure using the Haute Polish's Tickle coral-pink that came with the QVC Today's Special Value kit. Excuse the 'normal' person fingers - I'm certainly no hand model! Simple and quick to do for the experienced home manicurist, the shine of a gel manicure is unparalleled and the two colours supplied with the TSV - the aforementioned Tickle and the natural Ecru can be built up to be as strong as you choose or left very natural and clean with just one or two coats.  This photographs shows three coats of the Tickle polish for a more opaque finish. 

Now let's look at the steps needed. My best advice would be to lay everything out before you start. So that means your polish, the buffer, at least one detailing stick and a cleansing/finishing wipe. Work systematically and slowly  because you want to do the best job possible and it won't take that long any way. Gently - this is very important - remove surface shine from your nails. Do not buff harshly, you only want to create a 'key' for easier adhesion of the gel. Using the cleansing/finishing wipe thoroughly wipe your nails and the surrounding cuticles (as well as the tips and backs of the nails). Carefully place the wipe back in the pouch - you will need it again later.   

The standard instruction is to 'do' the four fingers of one hand first, then the other fingers, followed by the thumbs. But, since I have very small hands and fingers, and am ridiculously impatient,  I found that I could easily get four fingers of one hand AND the thumb of the other in the light at the same time. Paint carefully and slowly. Remembering to 'cap' the end of the nail. That is carefully paint or dab a little of the gel along the free edge of the nail, making sure you even out any blobs before curing.  This seals in the nail and prevents shrinkage of the gel (which can leave a paler or bare patch at the point of your nail), and helps to avoid lifting and so prolongs your manicure.

If you get any gel on your skin or cuticles, use the detailing stick to remove it now. You don't want to be peeling it from your skin after it's gone hard! Remember, the gel won't dry until you cure it under the light, take your time to get it just right. While the polish can't smudge once it's set, it can do so now, so make sure you have it applied properly BEFORE you put your fingers under the light.

Once you are satisfied, place your fingers flat on the bed of the light. Using the other hand, press the 'on' button. The light will begin curing your polish. If you have "Emily" switched on, she will talk to you to distract you while your polish sets. If not, you simply have to wait for the light to finish.  

Either way, the light will go out once the cure is complete. Remove fingers from light. Repeat the process on your other hand, and then on your two thumbs. If you require, you can paint on, and cure, another coat (and another if necessary). Once you have reached your preferred level of colour, use the cleansing/finishing wipe to remove the tacky residue that will be left on your nails. You may notice that some of the colour comes away on the wipe - do not worry about this, it is quite normal. Once you have done this you will be left with a strong, glossy coat of colour on your nails and you can get on with your life. You can, literally, do anything. Go to the bathroom, feed the cat, eat, drink, garden even put on cuticle oil and handcream!


So, do you get that 'Salon perfect result'? Well, obviously this depends somewhat on your nail painting skills, but I would say that, because this is gel and not standard nail polish, you have a good deal more time to play with getting the polish just right so it gives you the very best chance of getting a professional-looking finish. And, yes, I was pretty pleased with my own application, although I have to admit my second attempt was much better than the first. But even the first was pretty acceptable. 

Removal was fairly straightforward. First you use the buffer to "break" the shine from the gel.  Then, using one removal pocket per finger you tear open the pocket and place your nail inside the pouch, making sure that your gelled nail is in contact with the remover pad inside. Firmly wrap the pocket as tightly as you can around the nail so that it comes in as close a contact as is possible. I think, unless you have an "assistant" to help, you might prefer to remove one hand at a time, because once you have the pockets on one hand it's very hard to do anything at all, let alone wrap the remaining pockets around your other fingers!

Ten days after the Haute Polish manicure in two coats of Ecru, the only sign of imperfection is the re-growth at the base of the nail bed. 

I left mine on for 15 minutes ( a couple of the nails needed a bit longer) and the gel lifted off easily and didn't really need much help to do so. Just remove the finger from the pocket, and wait a few seconds. When the gel is ready to remove it will spontaneously separate from the nail, flaking away easily. If the nail isn't yet ready, just pop the nail back inside and wait a little longer. 

One of the problems with the traditional gel manicure systems is that they often require dipping in strong chemicals for half an hour. This is not only drying to the surrounding skin, but many people complain about nails becoming flaky and thin. Haute polish promises that the polish contains no nasty solvents and that the precise application of the removal chemicals means much less potential for harm to your nails and skin. My nails looked pretty much in the same condition they did before I used the system. Only longer because the gel polish had protected them from knocks and bangs for the previous ten days.

One of the other concerns about gel manicures is that the technology uses UV light which we all know can be damaging to skin health. However, the Haute Polish system uses an LED light. Which, although it is UV means that you need so little time under the light that the manufacturers reassure us that it's " a fraction of the UV of natural daylight".  And in case you're still not convinced, or like me extremely pale and so don't want to run any risk, no matter how small, of triggering yet more freckles - why not do what I did and apply and SPF product before beginning your manicure? As long as you make sure to use the cleaning wipes thoroughly to remove oily residue, it shouldn't have any impact on your manicure.

How long did it last? Not quite the "up to 14 days", but then I'm tough on my hands. I have cats to clean up after, a garden to tend and computer keys to bash at. Add in my habitual baking and cooking and you can tell I'm not holding back. On my hard-working nails they lasted 10 days. Now, I don't know about you, I think that's pretty impressive.

Since I'm a nail polish junkie, with a vast (and embarrassingly numerous nail polish collection), I', never going to be satisfied with wearing just one colour for 10 days at a time. But that's the thing with Haute Polish, and all gel manicures. You can paint a "normal" polish over the top, wear it for a few days, remove it and are still left with a glamourous, unharmed, very glossy gel colour underneath. And a big plus is that I found my normal polish went on much more smoothly over the top of the gel. And, I have a confession to make. On the advice of QVC's beauty expert Alison Young, I used my OPI Nail Envy on my nails before I applied the gel polish. I made sure to let it dry very well and then used the cleanser/finisher wipe very thoroughly to remove any stickiness. Since my manicure lasted through 10 days, I'd say it had no adverse effect.

The good news is that dozens of new and vibrant colours are about to hit the UK market any day. And while, at around £15.00 per bottle they're  tad pricier than the average professional polish, you aren't going to have to buy base and top coats, so it probably still works out more cost effective. 

I can't really think of a negative comment to make about this system.  My nails have grown very nicely and they don't feel at all bendy and weak. My cuticles have also been kept in check too. So that's another bonus. Before purchasing and certainly before applying, I'd recommend checking out Haute Polish's YouTube page for full demonstrations of all the processes. This set, and other polishes are available at QVC and at Haute Polish's UK site.

In the United States, you can buy in various stores such as Target and on Haute Polish's own website