Just about every nail brand I can think of has a "gel effect" line out now. A lot of them promise not just the look but longevity of a gel manicure, but do they actually deliver?
I thought I'd try the Barry M Sunset Gel range with Vengeance is Wine (£4.99, 10ml) when it came out last October -- it was in the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection (reviewed by Polished Inka). I've now worn this a few times, and I can confirm: it definitely doesn't last as long as a classic gel manicure cured by UV lamp. But it looks good while it lasts! Which, depending on my application technique, can be up to five days without dents or scratches or chips.
For some reason my brain keeps wanting to call this "Revenge is Wine". It also makes me want to insert a Mr Burns gif, so let's get that out of the way:
According to Barry M's product copy, the system is meant to "deliver the look and resilience of pro salon gel nails without a UV lamp or the expense!" I was pretty disappointed by the wear when I first tried it -- it chipped within the first day and dented really easily. It was nothing like an actual gel manicure. BUUUUUT I've always been pretty crap and impatient at putting on polish... apparently you're not supposed to slosh on two coats without waiting for them to fully dry in between. I've since had much better results after putting on two thin coats and taking my time; it's lasted roughly five days each time I've worn this with a bit of tip wear and minor chipping by days six and seven. It definitely starts looking scruffy around day seven and by then I'm ready to get rid of it.
I'd been looking for something that was classic but a little bit vampy, and Vengeance is Wine is spot on -- a deep, rich red with brown undertones. The closest I have in my collection is the Body Shop's Colour Crush in Crimson Kiss (£5, 6.8ml), which is lighter and leans more purple. The formula itself is on the thick side, and it applies evenly. It's actually pretty decent in coverage after just one coat but needs two to be fully opaque. The brush is on the wide side -- almost exactly the same width and shape as those of my YSL polishes -- and flat so it lays across the nail nicely, and I can cover most of my nails in three strokes.
The polish on its own has the shine of your average nail polish. However, the Sunset Daylight Curing range includes a Daylight Curing Topcoat -- I bought it at the same time as Boots had a two-for-£7 deal on Barry M. It gives the whole thing the high-shine, plush finish of a gel manicure. The instructions say to only use with the Sunset gel range, but I've since used it with other brands (Chanel, & Other Stories, and Priti NYC to name a few) with good results. However, the shine does wear off -- you can see it fading on my nails in the photos.
Vengeance is Wine removes just like a regular polish, and while it's such dark colour, there's been no weird staining after removal even without using a base coat. I'm pretty pleased with it overall, and am thinking of picking up more colours from the range -- possibly Dark Side of the 'Shroom (also from the A/W collection) or Bug A Blue (from the recently released Spring 2016 collection; products shown on Beauty Queen UK's blog).
I'd love to hear about any experiences you have with similar gel-effect polishes, particular by Sally Hansen and OPI. There's also Sensationail, which is an actual gel polish system that includes a UV light, but I feel like it's a lot of investment -- plus I'm really not keen on the annoying removal process for gel nails. Thoughts?