This High-Quality, At-Home Mani Kit Is the DIY Dream
Like many, I'm used to having my nails done professionally at all times (for the most part)—but I'm always up for a fun DIY beauty challenge, and self-made manis are right up my alley.
With coronavirus-induced quarantine imposed upon us, once-common luxuries (like mani, gel or dip services, for example) have quickly become a thing of the past.
I'm personally losing it over lack of a spray tan, but if I were round up where people on Instagram seem to be suffering (surface-level) the most, I'd have to say, collectively, it's with their nails.
Leading up to the pandemic, I'd seen Instagram ads for Olive & June's perfectly packaged at-home mani kits. Getting dips regularly, this isn't something I necessarily thought I needed, but I was always drawn to the colorful ads. Fast-forward some time later, we were faced with isolation demands, and just like that, I immediately thought of the upscale Beverly Hills-based nail salon.
I reached out to a rep for the company with a request to review one of their kits (they have four to choose from, ranging in price from $42 – $100). The rep obliged immediately, and graciously offered to send me their $80 Everything Box.
Even if you only order The Tool Box (which comes with no polish), you still receive the seven-piece set that accompanies all the other boxes. Each box comes with the following:
The brand's signature, patented bottle handle is made with soft, silicone material and a comfy grip, slipping on to the bottle as easily as it can be removed.
Nail Polish Remover Pot
Shockingly acetone-free, your nails slide right into this sponge-filled container, removing any lingering polish in no time. No cotton balls needed!
This is a multi-grit cube that buffs and smoothes nails and cuticles.
Grittier than the buffer tool, this dual-sided product helps gently grind down and shape the edges of your nails.
A hydrating product formulated with Cactus Flower, this adds immediate new life to your dry cuticles.
This acrylic brush is equipped with contoured synthetic bristles, making it perfect for getting rid of any painting outside-the-lines moments.
These stainless steel flat-edge clippers are made to create your nail shape.
Each set varies, but my kit came with six personally selected, vegan, cruelty-free polishes, and one heavy-duty top coat (that pairs well well with other polish brands, too). I opted for mostly pastel spring shades (given the gloominess of our world right now, brightening things up, at least on my fingers, definitely added some lightness to my days)—but there's an array of shades to choose from (dark included).
Okay, let's first get into the impressively pink packaging. While certainly feminine, it's not overwhelming, just incredibly sleek. I sat there on my white rug (with coverings, of course!), and as I went through the suggested steps, for a moment I actually thought I was in a salon.
The O & J rep gave me some guidelines to go by, and they were as follows:
Step 1: Shape, Clip & File
I kicked things off with clipper use. O & J live by the 90/10 rule: 90% of your shape comes from your nail clipper; 10% from filing. I used the flat edge of the clippers to cut my nail into its desired shape. Then I gently smoothed out the edges.
Step 2: Prep
I then dipped each nail in the polish remover pot to rid old polish and excess oils that can interfere with polish adhering to the nail bed. Once my nails were prepped, I was instructed to avoid touching my face and hair, due to their natural oils.
Step 3: Trim (Hangnails Only!) & Buff Cuticles
Using my buffer cube, I gently glided back and forth along the edge of the cuticle to erase dry skin and smooth things out. This is where I also cut away at any lingering broken skin around the nail.
Step 4: Polish
We've got to talk about the polishes. Obviously the most imperative part of the process, I can't speak enough of their praises. I decided to put almost all my selected hues to use, ending up with a bright handful of color pops. Not only do the O & J applicator brushes apply incredibly effectively, but the quality of the polish itself is remarkable. It looks and feels different than any other polish I've tried. Funny enough, they're just $8 a pop, unlike some of the drugstore brands out there that are actually more expensive. While there was some minor chippage after day three of wear, this polish is far sturdier than any in my arsenal.
Following my three layers (the brand recommends two to three coats, with a five to 10-minute wait between each), the final top coat pulled it all together, and I was left with one more step to perfecting my self-made mani!
Step 5: Shine
I've never owned a polish clean-up brush before, and I've always meant to get one. Even the pros aren't exempt from getting a little extra paint here and there. I dipped the brush into the remover and made my way around my nails and cuticles.
Once done, I applied the brand's magical cuticle serum, which—no joke—was an instant game-changer. The serum took my DIY project from B+ to solid A. O & J calls the serum their "must-have, can't/won't/don't-leave-home-without-it product." Real talk: I agree!
DIY pampering treatments aren't just about the final outcome, but also the experience. What we love about going to a spa or salon is the decor, the specialty products you wouldn't normally use at home and the time put into making you look and feel your best. That's just what this kit did for me. Hitting up my local drugstore for ordinary nail care could most certainly get the job done, but Olive & June's kit really felt like a full-blown salon-level experience.
Additionally, the kit comes with either tools you can use forever or products that will take a long time to run out. So even well after quarantine, you can be sure these will make a nice addition to your next girls-night-in!
For even more, check out the following video to get a better sense of how to rock the ultimate DIY mani:
Looking to make a whole day out of at-home spa treatments? HERE's how to set the right mood!