Today I have a full review of Opallac Gel Polishes along with swatches of some of the shades I’ve worn. Opallac Gel Polish is a light based curing polish that can last for 14 days. It is Australia’s best selling at-home gel kit and is available in Priceline stores, or online from Priceline of the Opallac website. When I first wanted to purchase some Opallac products, I couldn’t find any good in depth reviews that actually talked about the brand and products. So I decided to buy them, and have spent many months testing these products so that I can provide you with the review that I wanted to read before I purchased the products.
Opallac Gel Polishes are cruelty free (no animal testing on ingredients or finished products by brand, third parties, suppliers or where required by law) and vegan (contains no ingredients derived form animals or animal by-products). Opallac market the brand as being 10-free and ‘non-toxic’. When they refer to 10-free, they are referring to the polishes being free of formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, Parabens, ethyl tosylamide, acetone and animal ingredients. Personally, I don’t need a 10-free polish, just 5-free, which is formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), camphor, formaldehyde resin free. One thing I really didn’t want in a gel polish was HEMA (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate or hydroxyethyl methacrylate) free, as I know many people who have become allergic to HEMA after prolonged use. I do need to note though that Opallac does contain EMA (ethyl methacrylate monomer) which can cause allergies in those already sensitised to HEMA. I haven’t personally had any sort of allergy with these products but I wanted to include that information as it is very hard to find a consumer HEMA free gel (it’s much easier to find HEMA free gel from nail technician only brands).
Opallac sells a range of different colours and finishes. I have only tried colours from the Core Gel Polish line, and they all had a creme finish except Babes In Bondi which has a subtle shimmer. I haven’t tried anything from their sheer, sparkle or colour changing lines as they didn’t interest me. I was new to gel polish, so I started with the Priceline at-home gel kit, which contains three shades as well as the top coat, base coat and the 7Watt LED Lamp. You also get a 2-in-1 Shine & Soak Solution, 30pk remover wipes, and a nail file and buffing block. If you already have a compatible lamp then you can just purchase the top and base coats, as well as any colours you like. The starter kits are a good value for those just starting but I don’t use the removal wraps, buffing block or nail file as I already have better replacements. I have been using the 2-in-1 Shine & Soak Solution which works well, but I won’t repurchase as 100% acetone is cheaper and I can easily add glycerine to it if I want it to be less drying. I have however been using and reviewing nail polish for years, so I had all this on hand, where as nail newbies will need those items in the starter kit, so I understand why they’re there.
I regularly get 14 days wear out of my Opallac gel mani’s, and I can push it to 2.5 weeks with an extra step, but I had to experiment with the application process to get there. Many people have messaged me on Instagram asking how I get my gel mani to last, as they can’t get more than a weeks wear out of theirs. There are a few things that go into getting my mani to last that time, the main one being my application technique. The first couple of mani’s I did, only lasted 7 days as I followed the Opallac application process to a T, and when I contacted them about it, they just said that I must be doing it wrong. In actual fact, I had to change the application process to get the best wear time on my nails – everyone has different nail chemistry so different application methods work better for different people (I would hope a nail brand would know that).
The main difference in my application is that I apply a thicker layer of polish than their application guide suggests. Thicker coats, however can mean that a polish is more prone to bubbling and that you will have to do clean up as you will get cuticle flooding. I apply the base coat in a moderately thick way, ensuring a go over the cuticle so that there is no polish stuck it it before curing. You must clean up at every step before curing, as polish sitting on the skin will cause the polish to peel off early. My favourite clean up brush is the Fabulously Flat from Mitty and I use it with straight acetone from Bunnings. For the coloured coats, I also apply a moderately thick layer, ensuring that I coat the free edge (tip of nail) well. When I clean up the coloured layers, I make sure there is a gap between the cuticle and nail colour. For the top coat, I apply a very thick layer, coat the tips well and then make sure the top coat goes beyond the edges of the coloured layers (but still over the base coat), and also ensure that none is on the skin. That technique gets me two weeks worth, but I can easily get 2.5 if I put another layer of top coat on one week after I completed the mani. Over-curing gel can make it crack and therefore reduce the wear time, but this hasn’t been a problem for me.
The other thing that plays a part in my mani’s longevity is my nail health. I have done a lot to make my nails healthier over the years, if you want to know more about that I can do another blog post. The main thing to note for this post is that if my nails are cracking or too flexible, then the polish will come off sooner as it will get micro cracks from the unstable base and they will lead to premature large cracks or chips. Every time I take off a gel manicure, I spend the next 24 hours oiling my nails constantly using the Emily de Molly nail oil, before I put on my next mani, just to boost my nail health. I am terrible at doing this, but ensuring you wear gloves whenever cleaning can also make a mani last longer.
I follow the normal removal process, but I buff quite a bit of the colour coat off as that reduces the soaking time. If you have double top coated, you need to make sure you file through both layers before soaking. I soak until it is very easy to slide the colour coat off my nails, as I don’t want to cause nail damage by trying to pry off the polish early. Instead of the Opallac remover wipes, I use the Mitty Polish Off Soakies, as they’re reusable and work better for me. Even with the use of a thick base coat and long soak time, there is still a small amount of hard residue on the nail bed. If was going to do another mani straight away, then it wouldn’t both me, but I leave my nails bare for at least 24 hours between gel mani’s, so I try to buff those bits off so they don’t annoy me. I’ve been doing this for 6 months and my nails are still healthy and look good (no yellowing), but the buffing has made them slightly thinner, which isn’t ideal but I’ve accepted that is the cost of gel nails for me. If you do this, only buff your nails sparingly, because it does take layers off, and use a very fine grain nail buffer – I have found the Opallac buffer the be far too course for my nails. Wearing gel has allowed me to grow out a long vertical crack on my thumb, which is the reason I turned to gel in the first place. Unfortunately the crack is caused by an injury to the germinal matrix, so it will always reoccur unless I continue to use gel polish to keep it together (which I’m doing). If you find that you get minor nail tip crack or chips, then gel polish can help prevent that too.
I have found that on my nails, the light and pastel colours tend to wear for less time than the brights, but it’s not significantly different. Most of the colours I have are opaque in two coats, except Buttermilk from the Pastel Gel Palette, which needs three coats. The shine of the top coat dulls by the two weak mark, but that’s typical of all gels I’ve tried and not specific to Opallac. It doesn’t bother me, but I just wanted to add that information for you. The biggest problem I have had with the Opallac brand is that the black coating off the bottles chips off into the liquid product and then gets transferred to the nail. For some people this might not matter, but I spend such a long time on my nails, working through blurry vision and shakes, so it’s really disappointing when there are black dots on my nails at the end. They annoy me so much that I edited them out of most of my photos, but I left them in the pastel mani above. Opallac know about this problem but will not fix it or give reply with any compassion to their customers, I’ll talk about this more below.
Room For Improvement
There are some small improvements that I would like to see from the brand, one being to have a timer attached to the lamp, as it would be a lot easier than having to start a separate timer on my phone each time I need to cure a layer. I have actually resorted to using little 90 second sand hourglass timers that are meant for schools, as Pickles is scared of phone sounds. I bought mine for $1.95 from Mad About Science (it was so hard to find a cheap 90 second timer). Opallac have just changed the shade name labels on their bottles from the colour of the shade to all black, but the coloured stickers were so much better for me. Without them, there is no way to see what the shade looks like without opening the bottle. I have lots of shades so I can’t remember what they all look like, so it would be much easier to see the colour from the outside. I have made swatch sticks of my shades but I would prefer that the brand made it easier for their customers by just using coloured stickers.
I am less than impressed with the customer service I have received from Opallac Gel Polish, and after talking to others it seems like I’m not the only one who has had this problem. I contacted them about my Candyman Can bottle, as the shade is advertised on the website as a much darker green than the one I got (swatch above). Since I contacted them, they have now uploaded a bright swatch to the website, but the main image is still much darker than my almost neon green. I contacted them wanting to know if they had advertised the shade wrong or if it was a batch issue, and instead got a snarky email in return. If I worked at a brand and saw that a customer had received a colour that was completely different to what was advertised, I would contact them immediately and try to find a solution that the customer was happy with. Instead, I was met with someone on Instagram who didn’t seem to care (and has actively ignored any constructive criticism of the brand), and someone via email who made it even worse. I actually really like the neon green of my Candyman Can bottle, so it wouldn’t have taken much for them to make me happy, just an explanation and assurance that they were dealing with the issue would have been enough to make happy and a big fan of the brand.
I have spoken to another customer who contacted them early last year about the flaking bottle issue. Instead of helping her, they told her that she has to be careful about scraping off the excess polish do it doesn’t get on the outside of the neck (note that customers need to scrape off the polish to apply a thin layer as they instruct you to apply to the nail). This customer replied saying she was a nail tech of nearly 20 years and was being careful but it was happening to all her bottles, and Opallac never replied. If they had listened to her, then I wouldn’t have faulty bottles that cause black dots on my nails, as this exchange happened over 6 months before I bought my first bottle. I am shocked and appalled that a brand selling in Priceline with such a big audience has such disregard for their customers. I have spent a lot of money on this brand, and a lot of time using the products and talking about them on Instagram, as well as helping their customers to get longer wear out of their product, as the brand wouldn’t help them. All I wanted in return was decent customer service, which brands should give to all their customers, but that obviously didn’t happen.
Overall, I actually really like Opallac Gel Polish as a product. My favourite and most used shades from Opallac are True Blue, Cosmolicious, Misty Rose, Date Night and Life’s A Peach, as well as the neon and pastel kits. I didn’t like Bare It All as it was a weird pastel orange on me, certainly not a nude. Say I Do is the closest they make to a nude shade for me, but they don’t seem to make any nude shades for really deep skin tones. Those should be added, and I would love to see a bright medium yellow in their range. But the main thing I want them to fix is the black spot issue caused by the packaging flaking. As for their customer service, I just don’t know. I don’t know if it is an issue with the whole brand, or if it was a couple of bad individuals that need better training, but I don’t think I can support a brand that doesn’t care about their customers at all. I have spent a lot of money on these gel polishes and the product works really well for me, so it is extremely disappointing to see how I and others have been treated. Let me know what you think about the situation. Customer service is such a massive part of the brands I love, so I don’t know what to do from here, as I haven’t found other consumer gel brands that fit my requirements.