I Tried A Gel Manicure You Can Do & Remove At Home

It’s changing my nail game.

My honest review of Manucurist's Green Flash gel polish, a gel mani you can do (and remove) at home.
Getty Images/Maryna Terletska

I’m a manicure aficionado. Ever since the pandemic began, I’ve become an expert at doing my own nails — cuticle pushing and all. But before salons closed, gel manis were my thing; I’d get one like clockwork every two weeks. While I love my regular polish, I still can’t resist the allure of gels: They don’t chip! They last for so long! Well, thanks to the Manucurist Green Flash gel polish, I can get the best of both worlds when painting my nails.

The French nail brand has created the very first plant-based alternative to gel polish — that you can paint and remove at home — and just launched stateside in May. And it’s pretty perfect timing: After a year of fine-tuning their DIY manicures, people have been curating their own nail essentials (I know I have). According to industry data conducted by the NPD Group, searches for nail care dramatically increased in 2020. While there are tons of cool press-on options on the shelves now, Manucurist’s Green Flash line fills the gap in the market for those who prefer gel polish for home manis but aren’t quite ready to return to the salon. Obviously, I had to get my hands on it — pun intended — immediately. Read on for intel on the healthier solution to gel manicures.

How Does Manucurist Green Flash Work?

Green Flash gets its name because it’s classified as a “green” beauty product. As in: It’s formulated with 84% natural ingredients (an impressive feat for nail polish, a category that’s traditionally packed with chemicals), it’s 12-free (aka doesn’t use toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, and hydroquinone), and it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

If you’re a gel aficionado that gets a tinge of guilt when you look down at your nail beds after polish removal only to see brittle, super-dry, parched tips, you’ll appreciate the clean alternative. The thing with gels is that your nails can get damaged when you take them off since you’ve got to soak them in acetone — which is really drying — before dealing with sometimes-aggressive scraping to get every last bit off.

The magic behind Manucurist’s formula is... drumroll please... you can use regular polish remover to take it off. Essentially, that means you get to bypass the only downside to classic gels while still reaping the same long-lasting, chip-resistant benefits.

With the Full Pro Kit — which costs $89 — you get everything you need for your home mani: a base coat, top coat, a color polish, a gel polish remover (acetone-free, BTW), and a cute little LED lamp to cure it all. Follow each step and you’ll wind up with a shiny mani in less than 20 minutes. Sounds easy enough.

Testing The Manucurist Green Flash Polish

This isn’t completely necessary, but I filed my nails, pushed my cuticles back, and did some buffing before anything else (told you I’ve become an expert). The actual first step is to use the brand’s polish remover to make sure your nail beds are clean. Then it’s time for the base coat, which is just like any other gel base and needs to be cured after applying. You stick your fingertips underneath the LED light, and it’s easy to leave them in for the recommended amount of time since there’s a 30 second and a 60-second button (protocol is two minutes for the base coat).

The rest of the mani is what you’d expect: You apply your color polish, cure for two minutes, put on a second coat (for full vibrancy), cure again, and then swipe on your top coat before your final curing sesh (the last one is for three minutes). It’s basically the same as a regular manicure but with mini-LED lamp breaks in between each layer of polish. So for me, it’s a good time... even when I paint my dominant hand.

Five days in and still looking fresh.

Because Manucurist’s Green Flash is a gel, it’s dry and finito after you finish curing the top coat. Despite having a more plant-based formula, my nails still felt and looked like they were rocking a regular gel manicure. I was nervous to touch anything — I feel way more secure after getting gels professionally done. But I was able to use my remote to scroll through Netflix, put a harness on my dog, and get myself a drink, all miraculously without any smudging.

My fire-engine-red nails didn’t chip for at least six days. I was impressed with their longevity, but they did start to show wear and tear after a full week (much like regular gel manicures do). Hey, a full sink of dirty dishes called — polish can only stand so much before it decides to flee from your nail beds. My only complaint with the Manucurist gels? Though they came off with the acetone-free remover, it took a lot of soaking and a full-on arm workout of rubbing with a cotton pad to fully get off. The upside is... my nail beds weren’t in terrible shape, as they tend to be after taking off standard gels. Still, I was able to take the polish off, which is a major perk to the formula.

If you want a gel mani you can fully do at home or simply need a polish that lasts, this is an A+ option. Personally, I’m going to keep the Green Flash in my manicure rotation.