Let’s take a peak inside my salon drawers! Here is a quick little guide on my go to products I use in my salon every friggin’ day! Can I just say I’m so excited to be writing this for you, I feel like this is long overdue. What have I been doing?! And for those of you who don’t know me, welcome! My name is Katie Masters aka @nailthoughts and I am a nail artist located in Santa Monica, CA. So I am ready to break down my go to products for you based on so many of your frequently asked questions, I hope this helps!
BOTTLED VS POTTED GELS:
First things first, I will say that the majority of the colors I use are potted gels! I HIGHLY recommend using potted gels for art! They stay put, the fine lines won’t bleed, and they are very pigmented. HOWEVER, there are a very specific handful of extra finicky colors that I will only use the bottle for (ex. white, black, milky white..). The reason I choose the bottle for those because I find bottled gel makes those extra finicky colors less streaky and go on extra smooth (and fast!) especially if you are doing all over color. So truthfully, there are big time pros and cons for each gel application technique, but both are definitely necessary for your collection!
BRANDS I USE
The two brands that I use are Presto gel and Kokoist gel. Lately I have been leaning more into Kokoist because I find that the colors are a little bit more buttery and self leveling when you apply them, while Presto is a little bit more sticky and takes a tad more effort to get the streaks out. I know it may seem like a minor difference, but trust me, when I am running behind I find myself recommending only Kokoist colors to my client just because I know I can save that extra 5-10 minutes with application. But of course I like to have a couple brands on deck because each brand brings their own color swatches to the world and you want as many options as you can! Both of these brands can be soaked off! So on that note, here are my like, TOP recommendations on what you absolutely NEED in your drawer:
Quick note: You can get 10% discount on anything you order off of the www.kokoistusa.com website using my code NT10.
ABSOLUTELY KEY and 100% necessary to have these always. These are my go to’s for all of my line work. These will change your detail work immensely and it’s always a sad day when I run out of the pot. Like I might as well not go into work until I re order.
PICTURED: BLACKEST BLACK AND BLUEY WHITE DETAIL LINES.
THOSE are all the juiciest freshest neutrals/nudes that I use all the time as backgrounds for my art. If you want to see some swatches of some of these and a whole list of more color rec's check out my highlighted "KOKOIST" story on my IG. I love all of these nudes for a couple reasons:
- They are sheer so you can layer them up to make them more opaque or keep them sheer for a more barely there, whimsical look without looking streaky!! HELLO. What a dream!
- Since they are sheer, I find they are SO fast to put on. Honestly, my biggest salon secret (that is not a secret anymore I guess) is I love putting art on top of nude colors because the nude is so quick to slap on so I set myself up to have way more time for art.
PICTURED IN ORDER: PEANUT BUTTER TOFFEE, AND NUDIST BEACH
The real tea is in the base coats, right? And if you need to know anything about me, it’s that I love working with people’s natural nails and growing them with stronger base coats and care. So here are my top three right now that I use:
- My latest obsession has been with the brand Luminary . They created these crazy base coats that are SO strong, buildable, AND have a nude color already in them. THREE IN ONE: base coat, builder gel, and color. And I have to admit, when I was first seeing it around, I was a little skeptical like okay, is this like that horrible 3 in 1 shampoo that claims to do everything but is kinda crappy? But ohh I was WRONG. I tried it on myself, finally, and it felt so strong, so durable, and saved me so much time by bringing it all down to one step. So I HIGHLY recommend having these in your drawer, because talk about saving time in the salon, look at some of the stuff I was able to do from saving base coat and color application time with just ONE layer of the color “Peace” as the base coat AND color:
This base coat/color combo saves me incredible amounts of time for French manis too! Anywho, I would say my top three colors you should buy from them for your drawer is
But I just gotta say, I own all of the colors and it’s just changed my life for the better.
NOTES: These DO soak off, and they do build up heat under the light, so make sure and warn your clients! They also have a pretty distinct smell that you will either love or hate.
Here is their site! I do get commission from that link by the way!
AND if you want to see a video of me using Luminary, click HERE to see how I use it on my own nails!
This is a great gel for those clients that have really long and strong nails and need that extra layer of strength before the color application so their nails won’t break. It’s a builder gel base coat! I use this on most of my long nail clients now. It almost acts as a hard gel overlay…but with base coat mixed in! You know I’m all about that one less step life!
NOTE: Yes this soaks off. This is a great strong base coat to have especially if you are e-filing your color off. This base also builds heat under the light so make sure to warn clients.
- And finally my OG base coat I still use on the regular- PRESTO BAMBINA BASE COAT *update- it looks like they discontinued this and replaced it with the presto no sanding base gel- I have not tried that yet.
This is such a great base coat and has been with me since day one ❤️ It’s so funny because the only reason I bought it in the first place was because it was the only base coat on the Naillabo site that had the actual word “base coat” in it while the rest just said “clear gel”. So me not realizing that the “clear” gels were also a base coat led me to only buy the Bambina base. I mean, shows how important marketing is, right? This is a great base gel for just good old natural short to medium length nails that are ready to have long lasting manicures.
NOTES: This base does soak off! This specific formula def has a distinct smell to it (some people like it, some people don’t). And the website for the base says no sanding necessary on the nail, but I do it anyway.
We are almost done I promise! We couldn't forget about top coats! And to be honest, I only use two!
I just love a non wipe top coat. And if you don't know what that means, basically when gel cures, it will always have a layer of uncured gel on top. This is why you gels are sticky until we wipe it off with alcohol. But now there are options for non wipe top coats which means once it's cured, it's done! Highly recommend using this when you are in a hurry or even making press on nails!
NOTES: I tend to cure this top coat for about 60 seconds under my LED light for max shine and curing. This top coat doesn't stain.
This is a top coat that needs to be wiped but this is my second go to as well. It doesn't stain even on hair dressers.
WOW WE DID IT! You made it through my list! I hope you found it helpful and insightful and as usual, I am always here if you have any questions! I'm sure I will add a part two very soon.
xo, Katie Masters aka Nailthoughts