I Tried ManiMe’s Custom Gels & I’m Officially A Stick-On Nail Convert

ManiMe's In The Air Spring collection features press-on gel manicures

I've never been *obsessed* with gel manicures because, although they last a long time, they're also kind of a hassle (mostly professional, hard to remove, expensive, toxic formulas). But then, the brand ManiMe popped into my inbox with its at-home, press-on gel polish that's made "10-free" (aka sans 10 common toxins), 3D printed to fit any nail to a T, and delivered right to your door. It sounded almost too good to be true, but in the name of beauty, I tested out ManiMe's new In The Air collection — and it got me thinking about jumping back on the gel manicure train.

After going through the whole process, I realized there are a few major pros when it comes to ManiMe (aside from the price, which ranges from $15 to $25 a set): the gel formula, tailored fit, and varying designs. Unlike the press-on polish I've used before, where shaping and getting them to fit my nails is the hard part, ManiMe digitally scans your nails (from photos you upload to your profile) and then 3D prints its press-ons so each is made for your unique nail shape. When they're delivered directly to your door, the 100 percent Korean gel formula is already cured — which eliminates the harmful (and inconvenient) UV light.

As for the formula itself, it's Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified and leaves out 10 toxic ingredients: formaldehyde, DBP (dibutyl phthalate), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, fragrances, parabens, ethyl tosylamide, and phthalates.

When it comes to options, as of right now, ManiMe has four collections — ranging from singular shades to circular designs — with In The Air being its new 2020 spring collection. Celebrity nail artist Madeline Poole and Hang Nguyen (aka The Hang Edit on Instagram) were tapped for this collection to produce four designs each, that, according to a press release from the brand, were "inspired by the vivid colors, sun kisses, and blooming botanicals that spring-time brings."

I went with Not so Mellow Yellow ($25) from Hang Nguyen, because it seems like everyone could use a boost of sunshine right now, myself included. While the application process wasn't as simple as swiping a coat of polish on, it only took me about 20 minutes to do both hands — which was a tad longer than I expected but not overwhelmingly time consuming. After pressing each sticker onto the nail, there's extra material that hangs over the edge that, with a provided filer, you file downward. It takes a few times to get the motion right, but once figured out, the excess material starts to rip at the tip of the nail, allowing it to be pulled or clipped off.

Post-ManiMe Application / Katie Stanovick
Post-ManiMe Application / Katie Stanovick

Though I haven't gone the full two weeks the brand guarantees the nails to last (before simply peeling them off), I have gotten them wet, applied sunscreen with them, and scratched my head, all without issue. Final verdict: I really like my nails — especially the design — and I would purchase again not only for myself but as gifts, too. It's cheaper than going to a professional while still providing high-quality manicures with safe ingredients, which is a big yes in my book.

Maybe most importantly, I appreciate that ManiMe is doing its small part to support those on the frontline during the unsettling time of COVID-19. The brand has already supplied over 500 custom manis and 4,000 alcohol wipes to healthcare workers over the past month and are currently working to send out more.

There's no better time to test out ManiMe's new collection (and the rest of its products) for yourself, so snag your own exclusively from the brand's website and check out Not so Mellow Yellow, among others, below.

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