Although I mentioned wanting to try Butter London's Patent Gel Top and Tails Set ($40) many months ago, I never got around to trying it and actually repurchased my favorite Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab set in the meantime. However, as part of a once-in-a-lifetime event, I got the chance to play with the set for free. And I took this set for a serious test drive.
I had the mani of a lifetime on my nails when I tested this, so I was rooting for as long of wear as possible (and I was ready to accept chips because I wanted to keep this mani on my nails as long as possible!). Let me tell you: if you ever have the opportunity to have a manicurist-to-the-stars do nail art on one of your nails, you baby that mani. And stare at it. A lot. (Yes, I'll share this story in-depth in the future.)
I actually started this blog post the day that I got the mani and updated it daily, rather than relying upon my memory. This is my experience with my first mani; my subsequent experiences are below.
For reference, I used the following products: Butter London Melt Away, Butter London Patent Gel Base coat, 2 coats of Butter London Lady Muck, very thin layer of nail art using Butter London polishes, top coat of Butter London Patent Gel Top Coat, and Butter London Handbag Holiday Cuticle Oil when everything was dry. In my experience, gel topcoats tend to behave best with polishes in the same line.
Day 1- Initial observations: Dry time was about average, although I was petrified to touch anything for awhile because well- I did NOT want to mess this mani up. I did little typing to preserve the mani
Day 2: I had purposely not written a lot of blog posts/done a lot of typing/ done much to disturb my nails. Even after finally breaking down and cooking (and doing dishes), I didn't notice any imperfections in my mani. I did not work on this day, so I could limit my computer time.
Day 3: I had the day off from work. However, I did notice one small chip on one nail and slight tip wear on a second- despite having wrapped the tips incredibly carefully. It survived some outdoor duties, but I was wearing gloves.
Day 4: The first real work test. Sadly, I noticed a substantial chip on my thumbnail on my dominant hand.
Day 5: After two days at work (and a lot of typing), I can see regrowth on 2-4 nails, some minor tip wear on most fingers, the large chip in my thumbnail, and cracks in the upper left corner on three nails. However, due to the design it's not noticeable unless you're really paying attention.
Day 6: No more additional damage, but I noticed that the light had gone out of my mani, so to speak. It just looked dull and boring- and the design is anything but. Some minor repair work to take care of the chips, regrowth, and cracks (because I really want this nail art to last for awhile) followed by another coat of topcoat and my nails look literally brand new again. While they weren't being further damaged, the shine had dissipated from the topcoat. I feel like this mani is ready to roll for a few more days. I have to admit that it's odd not to be doing my nails every night! I've got 4 wheels of nail art to show for it though.
If I had been wearing a bright or dark shade, I likely would've attempted a repair after Day 5.
Day 7: The topcoat helped my nails, but my cuticles are starting to look a bit sad. I don't want to do much with them because it would simply expose the regrowth. Rubbing some Dior Creme Abricot helps a bit, but I'm afraid of exposing the regrowth. I have a feeling that this mani is on its last legs. For one thing, I have the first Summer 2014 nail release to review... (among other things)
Day 8: Another beauty event, and the reason why I was hoping that the mani would last. I've never had a mani last through 8 days before- it either needs to be removed or I get bored. There are obvious chips and cracks along the edges; the nature of the nail art helps to disguise them.
|Some of the wear. Notice the regrowth and chipping on the edges.|
On average, I tend to get chips in my nails within 1-2 days with a standard mani. I can get 4-5 days from Tom Ford Nail Lacquer, and with Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab + certain polishes (Modern Love, Careless Whisper) I've gotten 5-6 days. So I was incredibly pleased by the performance of this product.
At $40, it's not inexpensive. However, it's $5 less than Deborah Lippmann's version. I like both of them, and I think personal preference and your stash should really determine which brand to gravitate towards. If you have more Butter polishes, go with their version. If you have more DLs, go with that version.
Subsequently, I've tried this duo with a few other polishes and haven't been able to replicate the results with non-Butter London polishes. Chanel Tutti Frutti actually chipped within one day, unfortunately. It does seem to be better with polishes of the same brand. I haven't had the same chipping issues with other Butter London base/top coats.
Overall, I loved my experience with Butter London's Patent Gel