Thursday, December 15, 2011

Broadway Brush-On Gel Nail Kit Review

After I got a full acrylic set done for my best friend's wedding this past July, I vowed to never set foot in a Nail Chop Shop ever again.  You know the kind of nail salon I mean.  The ones where you leave with your nail bed almost filed down to your skin, your cuticles bleeding, and the gnawing feeling that it's going to take months to get your nails back to their once healthy state.  But hey, for now that fresh french manicure you're rocking looks great and it only cost you $20.  Well, I couldn't take it anymore, and since I can't afford the nice salons where they actually care about the health of your nails along with the prettiness of them, I had to learn to do them myself for now.  So when I spotted this Brush-On Gel Nail Kit from Broadway Nails at Wal-Mart for only $10, I just had to try it.  I'll tell you now, I was very conflicted about this kit after using it.  Find out why after the jump!

Included in the kit is:
  • Brush-On Gel
  • Brush-On Activator
  • Brush Cleaner
  • Natural and French Nail Tips
  • Manicure Stick
  • Nail File/Buffer
In a nutshell the procedure is as follows:  You prep your natural nails, pick out the correct nail tip size for each finger and glue them on, apply the brush-on gel, apply the brush-on activator on top of the gel, repeat the gel and activator application for a second layer, and, finally, let dry.  

To be honest, it pretty much is that simple.  This is the first huge plus of this kit:  Application with this kit is the definition of the word "cinch".  Let me put it this way, if you've ever applied Glue-On Nails and if you've ever painted your nails before, you can most definitely use this nail kit effectively and easily.  The next huge plus of the kit are the results:
As you can see here, I chose the natural tips since my plans were to paint over them anyway.  You can see the seam where the tip ends and the natural nail begins, but only if you hold them up close.  They looked so nice that I wore them naked like this for a few extra days before painting them.  Also, I had read reviews of this product that claimed that the nails fell off quickly.  This was not the case for me.  I'm still wearing them to this day and not one of them looks or feels like it's about to budge anytime soon.  I've opened soda cans, peeled oranges, and washed my hair with confidence and no damage whatsoever.

Okay, now it's time to talk about the only con this kit has, and it's a big one:  dry time.  There really is no dry time because I'm not sure they ever did truly dry.  The packaging promises the formula will be dry in under 5 minutes.  Five minutes, my you-know-what.  After I completed the directions I sat for TWO HOURS and the suckers were just as sticky as they were when I finished.  Luckily I didn't have anything to do and we had put a movie in, so I didn't mind sitting there.  The true problem was the fact that my nails had become a magnet for every little piece of stray hair/dust/lint around.  I live in a house with 2 long-haired dachshunds - sticky nails for more than 5 minutes just cannot happen.  

After getting completely fed up, I tried spraying it with nail glue dryer....didn't work.  Then I tried spraying it with a gel activator I had from another kit....didn't work.  So I tried spraying it with a nail enamel dryer.....kiiiiiiiinda worked - a little.  It was still sticky as hell, but a little better.  Finally, I painted a coat of Nails, Inc. Kensington Caviar Top Coat, that I reviewed here, and hallelujah, it worked!  Well, worked for the most part.  The gel underneath wasn't truly dry, but the top coat dried enough so that my nails weren't picking up every stray hair and piece of lint in the house.  And I must say that although the formula took so long to dry, it wasn't like wet nail polish where if you touched it or hit it against something it puts marks and/or fingerprints on the nail.  I hit the nails quite a few times but it didn't show any damage, luckily.

So does the dry time make or break this kit for me?  Well, during the time that I was actually waiting for it to dry, I would've definitely said break.  It was such a pain in the ass.  Every time I moved (and sometimes when I was just sitting still) I had to pick a hundred little hairs and lint off my nails.  However, the next day when the fear of the nails not being dry enough had faded away, the results were so beautiful and long-lasting that I think I can get over the dry time.  After all, I did find a way to help the drying along so at least I'll know for next time and maybe it won't be so bad.  

Bottom Line:   Amber LIKES!!! (but reeeeeeally wanted to LOVE)

  • Just a tip when using this product:  Try your best to file down where the false nail tip meets your natural nail bed.  The more blended you can get it, the better it will look.  I didn't do this to well on some nails and once I painted over them it became apparent that my nails weren't completely level.  It doesn't look as bad if you don't paint them, however.
So are you DIY kind of person when it comes to your nails or do you love your salon manicures?

UPDATE 12/24/11:
So after I did some research I figured out how to apply these a little better so they dry a bit faster.  According to the instructions, you apply a layer of gel + activator, and then right after that you apply another layer.  The first change I made was letting the nails dry between each layer and that did help.  Secondly, I made sure not to apply too much applicator, as the instructions do not mention what is too much or too little.  These changes did help.  Each layer took about 15-20 minutes to dry, as opposed to never really drying at all after hours and hours.  Still not 5 minutes like the packaging claims, but much better than it was the first time :)  Not sure if it helped, but instead of doing one whole hand at a time like the directions say, I also did one nail at a time as far as applying the applicator right after I applied the gel for each nail.  Hope that helps


  1. Hi I got this set for Christmas and love them I also had a problem with them drying and I also tried all kinds of things to get them to dry finally I put another layer of the gel and activator on and it worked! What I came up with was that the chemical mix was off the first time I had put it on hope that helps your drying problem :)

  2. Thanks, camofreak! I just did my mom's nails with it yesterday and I pretty much came to the same conclusion you did. There is a certain chemical mix that is "optimal" for drying. I think it's more glue and less activator, but I'm not sure yet.

  3. Thanks so much for that review, really helpful! Your nails look lovely.

  4. My kit said it came with the nail gel but there was nothing in the bottle. what happened? is it separate? i bought the exact same kit as you.

    1. It should have come with 3 bottles, 1 says "brush-on gel", another says "brush-on activator", and the last one says "brush cleaner". Everything you need should be in the kit so there's no need to buy anything separate. If you did not receive the 3 bottles I listed above, someone may have tampered with your kit prior to purchase.

  5. I hate this product! It looks nice for a day and then you get a million cracks all over your nails for some reason? But you don't need to do layer after layer, one is enough. If it's not dry (sticky) just put on one more coat of the activator and it will be dry in 10 seconds.wish it didn't crack because it does work nicely and it's easy. Ugh....

    1. uhh... the multiple layers if gel/activator is what prevents the cracking :/ js

  6. I'M WITH AMBER JOY! Where can I get more Applicator Gel! I have enough of everything else, JUST NOT THE GEL. Have all the nails, don't want to purchase the whole kit as ONLY NEED GEL, WHERE CAN I GET IT??????

    1. I used the brush on nail glue that you can buy separate and it worked the same

  7. did anyone react to the glue or gel. Mine never did seem to dry and I woke up the next day with welts all over? I am wondering if I had a reaction the glue or gel?

  8. Try buying all the stuff separately on amazon, or even sally beauty supply website. When it comes to the issue of the dry time... You have to wait 5 minutes in between layers of gel, also make sure you're dipping into the cleaning bottle after every dip into activator and application to nail. Also another great tip, after you apply the tip put a small amount of the activator on the crease of your real nail and tip(after filing of course).
    Hope it helps :)

  9. Loving you for this review. Currently waiting for mine to dry...they are a mess and I have a job interview in the morning! Damn

  10. I like it a week later and my nails are still on and applying the cleaner in the crease of fake nail and real nail really does help the fake nail blend with your real nail and also filing before tho

  11. mine wont dry its been minutes this sucks i cant go to bed untill it drys i dont think its going to

  12. Hey everyone! If you end with a coat of the gel, your nails dry instantly!!

    1. Omg! Freaking thank you! I've been sitting here FOREVER!

  13. Okay, so I screwed up the first time and had to take them off and start over. If you read the instructions very carefully, the way you are supposed to apply them is...

    Tip + Gel (on tip line to help blend) + Gel (entire nail) + Activator + Gel + Activator + Gel

    Again, you put the tip on, then apply a small amount of gel on the tip line where it meets your nail line to help blend it. After that, you begin your gel application. Brush on the gel, followed by the activator on all 10 fingers. Then repeat the process - gel, followed by activator, then brush on a second layer of gel to "seal" the nail. This will result in a beautiful, shiny finish that takes about 5 minutes to set up.

    The first time I did this, I didn't read the part about where you need to apply the last layer of gel and they literally never dried. I did my nails a couple hours before bed and when I woke up in the morning, they were still tacky (not to mention a hot mess - covered in dog hair [I have three long haired dachshunds], dust, and lint).

  14. Why did my gel brush get rock hard because now i am sitting here with sticky nails and i cant apply the last coat of gel to set them

  15. Use brush on nail glue same thing. Not cheap good glue

  16. For anyone reading this... I researched it before applying because the instructions aren't very "thorough".

    1. Fit the nails to each finger.
    2. Use gel to apply the nails.
    3. Let dry.
    4. Go over each nail in the crease of the nail bed and fake nail with a small coat of gel applicator.
    5. Coat each nail with the activator.
    6. Let dry for a minute. (It stays sticky that's normal).
    7. Go over each nail with the gel completely.

    After 5-10 minutes if it still hasn't dried.. coat your nails with a clear dry coat of polish (any brand) I used Broadway gel top coat ($2 at Dollar general).

    No problems. Still perfect 3 days later. Not like regular fake boxed nails. These actually hold really well.

    1. One more note... You only use the ACTIVATOR one time. Don't use a lot of it. You'll be using more gel applicator.

      The activator isn't needed very much it just helps hold the gel in place.

      Also.. if you need to save the applicator gel (noticed a lot of people claimed they ran out).. use regular nail glue to start on step one.

      I would stick with the Broadway brand if possible since they compliment each other.

    2. Last time I promise... I'm in cosmetology school. And this is almost fool-proof "salon quality" if you take your time with it.

      Don't be in a hurry! That's the trick. In a salon it will take a professional to do your nails 15-20 minutes. So if it takes you 20-30 minutes, there's nothing wrong with that.



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