The Ciaté Geltox System is the kind of beauty product that I've spent the past dreaming would one day exist. I love a good manicure - in fact I can't remember the last time that I spent more than a couple of hours without colour on my nails. As a result, I've come to realise that housework and full days spent tapping on a keyboard are my worst enemy. It's rare that I make it past day three without some level of damage, even when using a high quality top coat.
The Geltox Starter Kit comes with everything you need to achieve a professional looking, gel finish manicure at home. One of the more time consuming parts is the preparation. Each nail needs to be free from any polish or oils before being buffed, smoothed and shined until you have a flawless base to work with. Once that's done, you simply apply whatever nail polish you choose. I've used regular shades from brands such as Essie, Kiko, OPI and NARS and have found that any combination gives just about the same results. The trick is to work in thin layers, building the colour up little by little in order to achieve a perfectly smooth finish. This means that a couple of shades have needed three coats in order to reach full opacity, but the longevity of the polish and the promise of having a chip-free finish for up to a fortnight is more than enough to make up for the extra inconvenience.
Once the colour is completely dry (I usually wait an hour or so), the gel topcoat can be applied. It's thicker than regular top coats and has a slightly gloopy formula, although once it's applied to the nails it evens out and looks as glossy and shiny as my beloved Seche Vite. Working on one hand at a time, I apply a thin layer of the gel before curing my nails under the LED light for 60 seconds. Any guess work is taken out as the Ciaté lamp is on a pre-planned timer, meaning that you'll know exactly when the time is up as the light automatically switches off. The nails are initially left feeling sticky, but a quick swipe with the Ciaté Geltox Cleanser is all that's needed to leave a completely dry, high gloss finish. I usually apply a little extra polish to the tips of my nails and wrap the gel underneath before curing again - which allows extra durability to the areas most likely to chip and peel.
As far as downsides are concerned, there are a couple to bear in mind. The first is time. In the instructions, Ciaté pre warn that the Geltox system is far from a quick fix - in fact it's notched up the length of time it takes for me to complete a full at-home manicure to at least an hour (two, if I'm really trying for a flawless finish). It's also expensive. The starter kit retails at around £99, which I'll admit would have been way out of my usual budget if I hadn't stumbled across them selling in my local TK Maxx for a fifth of the price. Even so, it's possibly worth remembering that a single gel manicure in my local salon comes to £28 - meaning that within the first four uses you have the potential to more than make your money back.
I don't think the Ciaté system is a necessity, but for nail polish hoarders it's a really impressive piece of kit and one that I can see myself getting a lot of use from in the coming months. Having the freedom to choose virtually any colour in my collection and being guaranteed a fortnight of solid wear is a real luxury - as the ability to achieve a gel finish without the faff of a salon trip.