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For those of you that have stumbled across this post first, you can find more information on how these reviews are conducted here.

This is the first of my nail enhancement product reviews and I will admit, I am a long time fan of LE. I first met Lezlie and Jim McConnell (the husband and wife team that created the line) at Premiere Orlando a very long time ago. I believe it was when the line first launched.

I don’t know if LE released the first gel polish type product, but they were definitely the first I had ever been introduced to. Lezlie was incredibly sweet to me at her booth and (unlike some rude, abrupt product developers who will remain unnamed) spoke to me for about 15 minutes and answered my questions. She clearly loved her product and connected with the professionals that use it on a personal level. She and Jim were very interested to hear any feedback we could send their way. I purchased their entire line of colored gels. Back then, they were sold in plastic tubs with yellow & purple labels and purple tops–their packaging certainly has come a LONG way since then, lol.

I used it up completely in several months. I absolutely loved it. It was a bit thicker than the gels out now, but you have to remember this was roughly 7-10 years ago and the technology has changed quite a bit…as has my skill level with a gel brush, lol.

After using up my LE product, I didn’t buy more. My distributors didn’t carry it and my salon owner at the time believed that colored gel was a fad that would die out “like crackle polish.” This was back when crackle came out and faded within a few months. I wonder what she thinks about both products now, lol.

I’m absolutely thrilled that LE makes acrylic products. I would have been happy to test it out just based on the way Jim and Lezlie treat techs, but I’m even more ecstatic about it knowing that John Hauk has helped them develop it. John sent me a sample of the new acrylic and I couldn’t wait to try it. He also sent me one of LE’s new brushes to try, so this review will include a small review of the brush.

We’ll start with the acrylic. I applied it today, so this post will be updated as the next two weeks progress.

How I Prepped: I prepped the same way I typically do. My hands had not been exposed to water in two hours. I pushed the cuticle using hand sanitizer. I buffed off the shine. I etched the nail plate lightly (but thoroughly) with a 180 grit file. I dehydrated the nail bed with 99% alcohol. Because I didn’t have the LE primer that goes with the system, I did not prime at all. (I don’t ever mix lines.) The lack of primer will be taken into consideration as we observe how the nails hold up over the next two weeks.

Set Time: Moderate. It doesn’t set super fast, but it doesn’t take forever either. It gives you plenty of time to push your product into place and clean it up, but isn’t still floppy and gummy 10 minutes later.
Consistency: Medium viscosity. To me, this product has an absolutely excellent consistency. The LE brush really did a great job of holding just the right amount of liquid to work with the product. Seriously, it was perfect. Immediately after applying a ball of acrylic, I give the product about two seconds to level. Some products melt down into a mess, some stick together like a ball of gunk. This product slightly leveled and left the rest to me. It required just a tiny bit of manipulation, but wasn’t too solid. I would say that it is similar to that of EZ Flow, which has been my favorite product consistency of any on the market.
Weight: Light. Some acrylics are very dense feeling–these are not. I don’t know what sorcery they used, but I would compare the weight of these to sculpted gel nails.
Clarity: As you can see in the picture, I have one nail done in Clear and one done in Competition Pink & Competition White. They are incredibly thin. Despite how thin they are, that white is WHITE. You can’t see through it at all. The pink is a beautiful natural color and completely bubble-free (your results may vary because you might not be as awesome as I am at applying your product…but I digress, lol). The clear is exactly that. Not yellow, not cloudy–clear.
Color Consistency: The colors are all consistent!
Color Consistency Over Time: I will update this on 5/8! I can’t tell the future!
Durability: This will be updated again on 5/8, but I can tell you that these nails feel incredibly solid for being as thin as they are.
Odor: Surprisingly, the monomer did not smell half as strong as other brands (namely CND & OPI). On a scale of 1-10, 1 being odorless and 10 being unbearable, I would give it a 3. I applied these twenty minutes prior to a client showing up. My room has no ventilation other than a window (which I kept closed purposefully). When they came in, neither could smell any trace of the acrylic. Compare that to when I use OPI. Even with the window open and my treatment room door closed, the staff at the front end of the office can smell it.
Adhesion Over Time: I will update this on 5/8!
Cost: I have no idea what the cost is on the LE acrylic, but I’m going to look into it, since obviously I’ll be purchasing some myself.
Soak Off Time: I will update this on 5/8!

I really can’t say enough good things about this acrylic.
Extra Bonuses:
* No heat! I manipulated my product quite a bit during application. I was playing with it and pushing it around. With other lines I’ve used, I’ve noticed that when you overmanipulate product, it tends to heat up. This didn’t happen at all with mine. Neither one of the nails became hot during the curing process, even with all the manipulating I was doing.
* No bubbles! Even with all the poking and prodding I did, there is not a single bubble in my product. It is also completely clean looking. No cloudiness at all (which is a problem I’ve had with every line I’ve used so far with the exception of EZ Flow–but even EZ Flow has a few cloudy colors). Before anyone says anything about why product looks cloudy, I can assure you I know exactly why colors look cloudy. I always use new monomer in a clean, sterile, stainless steel cup. I know my product ratios. If I say a product is cloudy, it is because it IS cloudy. It has nothing to do with my application technique. “Clear” powder should be CLEAR. Like glass–not frosted glass. This product is like glass.
* Files nicely. My e-file didn’t slice through it like warm butter (the way it would if I used it on gel), but I didn’t have to apply any pressure at all to shape my product. I am compulsive about the product at the cuticle area blending in perfectly with the natural nail, so I always do a quick pass with my e-file. I hate the way a file feels on my nails, so I only use it on the sidewalls and to shape up the free edge, then I buff the up and apply oil. I used the LE files that came with my sample and their cuticle oil. The product filed off easily and buffed to a crisp, smooth surface. I didn’t even have to topcoat these. And no–I didn’t use a 3-way or wax buffer. I just used LE’s Foamie file (180/280 grit).
* The brush. Oh my god…the brush. Buy it. Now. They could charge double what they currently charge and I’d still buy it. I liked it that much. I’m going to channel Obama again and say, “Let me be clear–” I am a picky, picky bitch when it comes to brushes. I have been using the same brand of brushes for a very long time. I use Atwood round brushes (I have a 6, an 8, a 12, two 16’s, and a 22). I am OLD SCHOOL. I never, ever thought I’d change brush brands. I made many attempts. I’ve tried them all: OPI, CND, Tammy Taylor, and about ten thousand different random brands. I didn’t think I would ever find anything that made me as happy as my 16. I was wrong. While I still love and cherish my 16, the LE brush is definitely going into my collection and will be perfect for fills. For full sets, I’ll probably stick to my 16 since I have perfected the 1-ball sculpted nail with it, but the LE brush holds a lot less liquid and works great with the system. I’ll save myself a lot of product by using it instead of the Atwood 8. (Atwood brushes, btw, tend to start leaking yellow out of the ferrule over time–not a desirable trait in a brush.)
Things I Wasn’t So Impressed By: Both things that didn’t really thrill me are things that are completely determined by personal preference alone. Both did their jobs, they just didn’t do them the way I would prefer they did. Just because I wasn’t a fan doesn’t mean that you won’t be.
* The Cuticle Oil: I happen to prefer a thick, heavy cuticle oil. LE’s cuticle oil is thinner and absorbs into the skin nicely. It definitely did the job, but I’m big on textures and it didn’t feel like I felt it should have felt. It was very clean. I would say that I prefer an oil that is the same weight as olive oil–borderline greasy. Again, I am weird. Trust me, I read what you read. I know how strange it sounds, lol. I know a lot of women that would kill for a cleaner, more absorbent oil. I’m a freak of nature.
* The Forms: I’m just as picky about forms as I am about brushes, so my standards are insanely high. I like my forms thick, super sticky, and dual-sided. I’ve been using OPI’s Freeforms and Transforms. The LE forms were super sticky, but they were a little thin and hard to fit. Keep in mind that my nails are difficult to put forms on since my nails actually grow upward (typical ski slope nails). Again, I’m picky in this area and even the Freeforms and Transforms aren’t as good as they could be in my opinion.

Alright, so I’ll update this post again in two weeks and re-post it on that date so it’ll appear fresh in your feeds! So far, I’m planning on making LE my new product line for enhancements at work. When I go to Premiere, I’ll get some sculpting gel to try out as well since I’m currently shopping for new products in that department also. I highly recommend LE, not just because of their excellent products, but because of the business itself. Lezlie and Jim are so incredibly nice and there’s a lot to be said about family businesses–especially one that is owned by a nail technician and a cosmetic chemist.

And no–I do not get paid, bribed, or threatened into writing these reviews. These are my honest opinions. I wouldn’t lie to my readers and I wouldn’t recommend something if I didn’t think you would like it. You crazy people have my email address. My phone number & business address are a few clicks away. I have no desire to have my kneecaps busted by an angry subscriber. You can trust these posts.

UPDATE: 5/2/2013
8 days in and my LE nails are still looking spectacular! The color clarity is perfect. There hasn’t been any discoloration or lifting at all. (Remember, I didn’t prime either, so that is saying something!) I’ve also noticed that my edges haven’t worn down either, which is pretty weird because generally I do see a bit of wear on the corners since I type so much. So far, this product is getting an A+++ from me.

UPDATE: 5/17/2013
23 DAYS IN!! My LE nails are STILL looking AWESOME! No lies. Look at the pictures if you don’t believe me.

Day 23.
See my teeny sliver of lift?
Put your glasses on, ladies.
It’s there, I promise.

After Day 14, I broke all of my rules. I wanted to see exactly what it would take to destroy these nails. I washed dishes without gloves, I painted my house, I scrubbed my floors, I pulled weeds, I MOVED ALL OF MY FURNITURE BY MYSELF INTO A BIGGER OFFICE…nothing. No wearing down, no chipping, no breaking, no peeling, no splitting, no discoloration, no popping. I have a teeny, tiny, itty bitty sliver of lifted product. Seriously, a sliver. That’s it.

Keep in mind that I did not trim these down at all. I am breaking the 1/3-2/3 rule in a big way. Still, I have no issues.

My mind is made up. This is my next enhancement product. My clients have been following this experiment since Day 1 and absolutely can not believe that I have been wearing these for so long without any issues at all. I almost don’t want to soak them off. But, the time has come. I have to find out how long it takes for these to dissolve. Here we go.

UPDATE: 6/4/2013

It is Premiere Orlando 2013. I am in a Light Elegance gel class taught by Pina More, showing off the nails I applied on April 24th. They are grown out almost 3/4 of an inch…but the lifting is still just a tiny sliver. People are gawking. I’m pretty sure that my experience with this product has netted LE several hundred dollars in sales today. I’m going to head down to the main floor and show them to John as well.

UPDATE: 6/5/2013

I soaked them off today using Expert Touch. I really do not like to use acetone…ever. Expert Touch is a great (but ridiculously expensive) remover. It’s one of the places where I splurge a little bit as far as supplies go. It took about 35 minutes to remove my LE acrylic. I wrapped the nails in foil with soaked cotton pads and put my hand in a terry mitt. (Then I sat here twisting and burning because standing still is not something I’m particularly good at.) I did file the surface of them a bit to allow the Expert Touch to penetrate. The LE did what almost all EMA based acrylics do–it dissolved into a gritty, sandy mush.

UPDATE: 9/1/2013

I have been using the LE acrylics on my clients and have had more success with it adhering to my nail biters and problem clients than any other line out there. I did have an issue with some discoloration on a client who was wearing the cosmetic pink powder, but since I’m unsure what she had her hands in (and it didn’t become evident until after two months), I’m going to go ahead and say, “Who cares?”

I love this stuff. If they ever change the formula, I will fight somebody.

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