Staff Writer Rachael Medina
Rachael Medina is the senior content writer and operations manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests o…See full bio
Spending more time at home has prompted me (and many others) to perfect the DIY manicure, but achieving a just-out-of-the-salon look is easier said than done. Especially when you’re looking for clean beauty products without all the harmful ingredients found in traditional polish, nailing an enviable paint job can feel unobtainable. But Olive & June’s kits are game changers because they come with everything you need to succeed—plus the brand posts tutorials on how to do a manicure at home, so there’s no more guesswork.
Going to a nail salon has always felt like the ultimate treat-yourself moment for me. While I regularly painted my own nails at home, there’s something about the pampering experience of getting them done professionally that I just couldn’t replicate myself. Pair this with my lack of patience during the drying phase, and the only way to get blemish-free polish was to have someone else do it for me. That is, until I tried Olive & June’s manicure kit.
Founded in 2013 by Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Olive & June (named after her great-grandmother and grandmother) offers a clean beauty salon experience in-store in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Pasadena, as well as at home. With several dozen nail polish shades to choose from—in addition to nail and cuticle care items, tools, and nail art—it’s easy to see why this brand is so popular.
Each nail polish is free of camphor, DBP, ethyl tosylamide, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, and xylene. The seven-free shades are also formulated to be long-lasting, vegan, and cruelty-free—so you can feel good about stocking up and making at-home manicures a regular part of your routine.
I ordered The Mani System with a single color and was delighted when it arrived. The box itself doubles as a phone booth—complete with a shelf to hold your phone—and holds all of the incredible tools that help make any manicure effortless. The Mani System comes with:
The approachable packaging keeps the tools nice and neat—in a reusable zipper case—so seeing all of the system’s items doesn’t feel too intimidating. As someone who’s used to clipping, filing, and polishing alone, the additional tools could easily feel like a ton of extra work, but Olive & June does an excellent job of presenting them in a user-friendly way.
If you’re beginning to panic (or just want to ensure the best experience possible) I highly recommend taking a look at an Olive & June tutorial. It covers everything from shaping your nails and using the remover pot right before you put on polish to the importance of placing the Poppy and applying the top coat—basically, all you need to get your ideal Olive & June nails.
Having used several brands of nail polish throughout my life and exclusively cleaner polish in recent years, I’ve had a wide range of experiences, but Olive & June did not disappoint. I’ve never used a full mani kit, and I’m happy to say it’s well worth the investment.
Complete with all the necessary tools, this is the best manicure kit I could’ve asked for. I began by shaping my nails and was very pleased with how the flat clippers achieved my preferred style. I attempted both a squoval and a round look and was surprised at how easy they were to achieve by thoughtfully clipping and filing. After shaping, I used the polish remover pot and buffed my nails before jumping into the painting process.
It might seem strange, but this was easily my favorite piece in the kit. This nail polish remover pot makes removing old polish easier than ever and doesn’t create any unnecessary waste. Since there is a sponge inside the pot, the nails rub against this surface, making taking off polish incredibly easy. Even with darker—typically stubborn—polishes, this remover works wonders.
When I finished prepping my nails, I was finally ready to paint on the polish. I found the flat side of the brush, popped on the Poppy, and got to work. The polish (I used the Obsessed shade) applied smoothly and appeared somewhat translucent after the initial coat.
I tried really hard to be patient and leave enough time between coats and was relieved to have not messed the nails up as they dried. After the second application, my nails were beautifully red, evenly covered, and shockingly without imperfections—a near impossibility for me with other types of polish.
Even without using a top coat (though you really shouldn’t skip this step), I was happy to see that my polish lasted several days—through showers and excessive hand washing—without chipping. For the absolute best results, make sure to take the time to apply a top coat and reapply it every few days.
I don’t think I can go back to painting my nails any other way after trying Olive & June’s manicure system. I’ve never had an easier time shaping my nails or removing nail polish, but I can’t overstate the power of the Poppy—because it offers a larger surface area to hold onto and fits intuitively into the hand, I felt stable while painting with both hands and really don’t know how I got by before.
The clean up brush offers an easy way to remove unnecessary polish, and the cuticle serum is a refreshing addition that makes me feel like I just left the salon. While I would still recommend this set without these last items, they help to elevate the system for a truly luxurious experience.
Since I can’t get enough of this at-home manicure solution, I’m already looking forward to my next purchase. Whether it ends up being the pumpkin spice latte polish collection I’ve been eyeing or the pedi system for summertime, I’m confident it will offer another elevated DIY nail experience—I can’t wait.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Note: This product was independently selected and purchased by California.com. We did not receive compensation for writing this review, and we do not receive a commission for affiliate links.
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