I was wandering around CVS a few days ago when I went by their clearance section and saw an amazing sight: UV-free gel polish for $3! I’d been wanting to try gel polish but A: didn’t want to invest in a UV lamp and B: didn’t want to spend $12 on a tiny bottle of nail polish, especially since I tend to change my polish so often that the potential 2 weeks of wear would be useless. But for $3? Oh heck yeah, I’ll give it a try.
There were 3 or 4 colors available but the one that really stuck out was Moonstone, especially since it looks like a pretty close dupe of Zoya Skylar. Comparing it on my nail to swatches I’ve seen of Skylar it looks extremely close, definitely close enough if you can’t afford Zoya and Moonstone is on clearance at your CVS!
Since this is my first gel polish I had to read the directions very carefully. I also decided I wanted pictures, for posterity or something 😉
The directions are a bit confusing when you’re so used to the everyday *paint paint nail, wait to dry, paint paint second coat, topcoat* so I read them like 3 times before even starting. Basically you apply the activator to one hand/foot at a time, put on the color, and then swap the brushes in the cleaner and color bottles so you can clean the brush you just used and have a clean brush in your color. The instructions specifically mention that your first coat might look very streaky, and boy did it.
Nutra Nail Moonstone, 1 coat
I fully anticipated needing two coats, so I let that dry and applied another coat (which was much easier as I had a tiny bit more practice), but it still was a bit sheer in a few spots. As far as dry-time, the box claims it’s rock hard in 5 minutes; I gently checked after 6 or 7 minutes and it was still the tiniest bit tacky–I definitely wouldn’t have risked stuffing my foot into a sock and shoe at this point–but 10 to 15 minutes after my final coat it was definitely rock-hard.
Nutra Nail Moonstone, 2 coats
Nutra Nail Moonstone, 2 coats
Since it was still sheer after 2 coats I decided to add another coat, but only to my right foot. My left foot has 2 coats, right foot has 3 coats. You can tell the toes on my right foot are slightly darker than the left but I did thicker coats on my left foot so they balance out well.
And a close-up comparison of 2 coats (left) vs 3 coats (right).
The final color was very nice, the texture was a tiny bit lumpy but that could be because I took too long to apply it. The finish is a nice mid-glossy finish, I’m not sure if it’s safe to add topcoat to this so I skipped it but I may experiment with glossy and matte topcoats in the future. Overall, definitely a great buy! Being a frugal lacquer addict I still wouldn’t buy it for $12 but for the price I paid I’m quite happy with it.
When using this polish be very careful to apply only to the nail, I got some on my cuticles and skin and it really does dry hard, almost acrylic-like (though not quite as strong) and it was difficult to remove without chipping the rest of the polish.
Let’s see how it hold up! I’ll update in a couple days.
Disclaimer: This product was not sent to me for review; it was purchased by me and no compensation has been given to review this product.
Update 13 days later: ok, it’s been almost 2 weeks now and just 2 days ago I started to notice the first chips. 12 days after application I had lost all the polish on one toenail and I had 3 or 4 big chips, mostly in my big toes. This color lasted a great amount of time, even lasting 2 whole days stuck in hiking boots. My toenails always last longer than my fingernails so if I used these on my fingers I’d probably get closer to a week+ of wear out of them. This would be GREAT for a mani/pedi before going on a long vacation!
I didn’t notice a real difference in wear between the 2 coats vs the 3 coats, the nail that chipped off entirely was from my 3-coat foot but I think that was just coincidence.
Removal was definitely harder than even the average glitter mani/pedi, it took lots of scrubbing with pure acetone and still took about twice as long as usual. Some of the polish started flaking off while I removed it, which was nice.
Overall, I’m really happy with this polish, I think I’ll be using it for pedis and on my mom’s nails (since she always chips hers off after a few days)