Can This French LED-Activated Nail Polish Kit Deliver a DIY Manicure That Actually Lasts?

1950s style advertisement with Manucrist nailpolish in
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For me, there’s nothing that makes me feel more like I’m “adulting” than a perfect manicure. It’s like the statement piece of jewellery that ties together a look — glossy, colourful and eye catching. Even better? It’s inexpensive and you’re unlikely to lose it. 

My only issue? Standard polishes do not like to stay on my nails — they flake, chip and peel away in hours. And, when I opt for salon gel manicures, they leave my already brittle claws in ruins.

Recently, a potential solution arrived on my desk in a pink canvas bag full of mysterious products from French brand, Manucurist Paris.

Manucurist offers a range of LED activated nail polishes. The pitch is, they last like a traditional gel polish, but remove like your standard nail polish, minimising damage to your nails. Cruelty free and vegan, some traditional ingredients found in polishes, known to be “hard on nails” have been replaced with bio sourced ingredients like cassava, cotton, sugarcane, corn and wheat. So far, so chic. 

Obviously the French have cornered the market on “adulting” via beauty and fashion. Plus, I was eager for a solution to my tragic nails. My interest was piqued.

What Is Manucurist All About? 

Manicurist also have some solid credentials. Founder Gaëlle Lebrat Personnaz grew up in the nail biz. Her mother ran a salon by the same name in France. But, Personnaz didn’t always want to work in beauty — she studied law, specialising in business and then did a master’s degree in fashion at the French Institute of Fashion. Personnaz then worked with some of the biggest luxury houses in the industry. Think Louis Vuitton to Prada and Saint Laurent. If anyone was going to help me up my nail game, it was Personnaz.

When she decided to return to beauty, she wanted to make a difference and knew the nail category was under serviced. Personnaz took over her mother’s salon in 2016, and set about turning it into a brand that addressed many of the consumer pain points she’d observed while growing up in salons. These included harsh ingredients, polishes that chipped easily and damaging removal processes that involved intense scraping and drilling (we’ve all winced our way through an acrylic removal).

“I wanted to create a product that was easy to apply, provided bold, long-lasting colour and didn’t ruin the anil fibers when removed,” Personnaz told POPSUGAR Australia. Three years of research and development later she had Green Flash! An LED polish that applied like a gel, lasted up to 10 days, and could be removed in one minute. 

Manucurist Paris, nail kit complete with LED light, a base, top and colour coat and nail polish remover.
The Mancurist, Green Flash Routine Set ($124) Image Credit: Supplied

How Did Manicurist Work for Me? 

I am a manicure flop, so while my manicure kit looked simple enough, I was immediately overwhelmed. While every Manucurist product can be purchased individually, I was sent the complete Manucurist, Green Flash Routine Set ($124). The kit comes with the LED Lamp, a base coat, top coat, coloured polish, nail polish remover and five removal clips.

You can soak a cotton pad in remover and sit your fingers in here for a minute before slipping them off and sweeping away your polish — no drilling required. 

In the lead up to my Manucurist adventure I made all my usual mistakes — the biggest and most common being I only remembered to apply polish an hour before leaving the house for my night out. The  Manucurist process is a lot faster than a salon process experience. Each layer of polish requires only a few minutes under the LED lamp to “set” meaning you can move quickly. I would say each hand took ten minutes. The final result was impressive.

My nails were glossy, and most importantly, completely dry. They didn’t stick to my handbag or hair. For a normal person this might not be a common issue. For a person who has been known to paint their nails while on the bus to an event, it was a miracle.

How Did It Last? 

Manicurist "Poppy Red" applied on author's nails.
“Poppy Red” applied on hands in need of some hand cream. Image Credit: Supplied

Manicurist promises up to ten days of wear and I made a solid five days with my “Poppy Red” polish. This is also a staggering achievement. Typically any polish on my hands lasts two days max, and is heavily chipped by the second day. 

I also took no protective measures. I washed the dishes without gloves, cleaned the house and, as I’m prone to, nervously picked at my nails. Were I a less chaotic person, they may well have held up the full ten days.

Do I Recommend? 

If you, like me, appreciate a manicure but can’t stand the fuss or the damage to your nails involved in traditional polishes and their salon gel counterparts, I’d definitely recommend.

While the kit is available in “Poppy Red”, pictured above and “Hortencia” a sheer pale pink reminiscent of OPI, “Bubble Bath” there are 21 shades in the range that are reflective Gaëlle Lebrat Personnaz background in fashion and eye for colour. I personally will be picking up “Dark Pansy,” a winter-perfect deep burgundy and “Dune,” a peachy soft beige that looks like the perfect nude, to add to my “adult nails” winter wardrobe.

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