June 22, 2015

Sally Hansen Big Peel Off Base Coat & Insta-Ombre Polishes [Swatch][Review]

Hey nail people! How is everyone?

Today I have a review and some swatches of some new nail products from the drugstore: the new Sally Hansen Big Peel Off Base Coat and three of the new Insta-Ombre effect Nail Colors. I decided to talk about these two products together because glitters make for a good test of peel off bases!

Sally Hansen- Big Peel Off Base Coat; L to R: Sally Hansen- Copper Cap, Sally Hansen- Layer on Lilac, Sally Hansen- Grey-diant

Let's find out if these glitters give an easy ombre look to the nail and if this base coat peels off cleanly!

First, I applied the Big Peel Off Base Coat. This photo was taken at about the 1 minute mark:

5-minute mark:

~9 minute mark, fully dry:

So the instructions are to apply a thick coat, but I used the thinnest layers I could to reduce dry time. Still, it took almost ten minutes for the base coat to fully dry and become transparent. It feels just like a PVA glue mixture going on, and I had no problems with application.

Time to apply the Insta-Ombre nail colors! On the back of each polish, Sally Hansen gives these directions:

  1. Apply 1 coat to clean dry nail. Wait 1 minute.
  2. Apply 2nd coat from mid-nail to tip. Wait 1 minute.
  3. Apply 3rd coat to nail tip.

Here is one coat on all nails:

L to R: Grey-diant, Layer on Lilac, Copper Cap (two nails)

That's pretty sheer, so I decided to add a second full coat to the entire length of the nail! Here's what that looks like:

You can see that Grey-diant on the index nail is actually noticeably sheerer than the others.

Here is the manicure after the next two steps:

It's really not much of an "ombre" effect, and the coverage is a little disappointing. At normal viewing distances, AKA not photos, I can't really tell at all that the glitter is heavier at the tips. The tips are thick and goopy-looking though due to all the extra polish there.

Let's try to peel it off now!  For this first test, I did not let my polish layers dry completely (set all the way through). I started peeling it off essentially right after I was done taking the manicure photos. This is to simulate how I'd normally use this product while swatching polishes- to see if it'll peel completely before the middle layers are totally dry. 

(You'll find a second, fully dry test of the Big Peel Off Base further down this post.)

So, partially dry peel test: I used Glisten & Glow- HK Girl, which is a quick dry, on top, so the top polish was dry and pretty hard to the touch, but the middle layers were still slightly soft at this point.

I just used a nail to push against the edge of the polish at the cuticle line, and it came right up:

You can see that the edge folded under a bit, so you can tell the polish wasn't stiff.

Still, it peeled right off all in one sheet:

There were some little bits here and there on the sides and nail tips, but those came right off by just scratching gently. That's pretty good- overall a clean peel!

There are some areas where my nailbed looked roughed up a bit, but I don't think it took too many chunks away or anything.  If you are super concerned about your nails breaking or peeling down the line, that might be an issue for you, but I'm typically not.

The peelies:

I was pretty pleased that Big Peel Off peeled so nicely when the polish wasn't even 100% dry!

For my next test, I wanted to try an Insta-Ombre polish over a base color. I decided to use Copper Cap over Zoya- Pandora.

Here is one coat of Copper Cap over Pandora:


And here is what the "ombre" looks like:

I applied the layers just as directed this time, instead of using two full coats first.

I think that it's quite pretty, and the ombre effect is a little more noticeable! It's still not super obvious, but the coverage is much better, and I can tell that there is more glitter at the tips of my nails. But, like the first example, my nail tips are awkwardly thicker than the rest of my nail plate due to the extra base and layers there.

Let's peel it off! 

So for this part of the test, I wore the polish for a little over 24 hours. I took a hot shower during that time, and used my hands as I otherwise would. By hour ~20, I noticed that a couple of the polish edges were really loose and sort of wanted to lift up off the nail. I didn't pick at them though, and they stayed on until I made the decision to peel.

The instructions do advise to avoid hot water for 3 hours directly after application, and I did follow that.

I pushed against the edge the same way as before:

...and they lift right off:

I think that's even a little cleaner than the first test!

The peelies:

I do feel like you're not going to get long wear times out of this product. I think it's fine for 24-36 hours, especially if you're not showering or using much hot water, but don't expect to wear a Big Peel Off Base manicure for longer than a day or so.

Overall, I really like the Big Peel Off Base Coat, and I'll be keeping it around for glitters, and probably even for swatching chunkier finishes- or even when I don't feel like exposing my cuticles to acetone! Very useful! It peels off readily with no resistance and not much discernible damage to the nail bed. It basically feels and performs like a good PVA glue mixture. I'm not sure how many showers or days of intense hand-washing a manicure could endure, but it does perform as advertised. The one drawback is the initial dry time, but with thinner coats, that's improved.

As for the Insta-Ombre nail colors, well, they are pretty nice glitters as far as sparkle factor goes. Do they deliver an instantaneous ombre effect to the nail when used as directed? No. Not in my opinion. They are all really base-heavy for that purpose, and the density is just not right for making a gradated look.

However, I think these would perform pretty well if they were sponged on instead. The sponge would absorb the extra base, and you'd be able to dab on a gradient effect fairly easily. Are most drugstore polish shoppers going to know about this method? I don't think so? So, for me, these have a big marketing gimmick, but if you're looking for pretty clear-base glitter toppers, or glitters that'll be great for sponging, I think these are great.

Sally Hansen Big Peel Off Base Coat  | $5.99
Sally Hansen Insta-Ombre Nail Color | limited edition | $5.99

What do you think?

*Disclosure: polishes in this post were provided to me as press samples for honest review, and all opinions are my own.


  1. The peel off base seems to have worked really well for you. I've always wanted to try one but haven't yet but I should. It seems to helpful especially if your swatching a lot of colors.

  2. The Big Peel off looks like a winner! The Ombre ones seems to be a waste since that technique can be done with many polishes. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  3. I'm not overly impressed with the "ombre" effect BUT they are gorgeous microglitters! Copper Cap looks fab over Pandora :D

  4. I'm so glad that I picked up a couple of the peel of bases when I was at Target. The only thing is I got it for my glitter filled cruelties that I at least want to wear for 4-5 days. But the microglitters I 'll pass. I do love how you layered the copper one though.

  5. wouldn't using any fine glitter nail polish with this technique create an ombre effect?

  6. Yes, pretty much! That's why I think the marketing is a bit gimmicky.

  7. Yay! Well, let me know how long your manicures last with the peel off base!

  8. LOL, no, me neither. Thank you!

  9. Yea, so true! I do like Big Peel Off though!

  10. Oh, Lisa, you should try one! So convenient!

  11. Clockwork EggplantJune 23, 2015 at 11:41 PM

    Interesting, your experience with the peel-off base coat was pretty much the inverse of mine! I used my usual top coat (Glossyglam) and wore it for three days with no problems, apart from some minor tip wear, but when it came time to take it off my nails wound up with quite a lot of peeling that I had to buff out. There was no major damage, but it was still annoying. I've heard that giving your nails a quick soak in warm water before removal helps to prevent that, so I'll give it a try next time I use it.

  12. So maybe top coat makes a difference! Or maybe it's body chemistry? Very interesting! That's disappointing it didn't peel off well, though. Maybe use a really thick coat of it next time? And, yea, definitely exposure to soaking/ warm water tends to peel base coats for me. Temperature changes in general cause the nail plate to flex and stuff, so that can help loosen anything on there. Thanks for chiming in with your experience! :)