How We Chose Our Products
We selected the best gel nail polish kits based on the following criteria:
- The type of lamp, size, and wattage
- What long-wearing colors and types of gel polish are available in the kit
- What extra items are in the kit, including removal tools
For more details on choosing the best kit, check out our buying guide below!
Best Gel Nail Polishes For An Easy At
Youll look like you just left the salon.
Theres nothing more relaxing than a trip to the nail salon. An hour spent getting your nails trimmed, buffed, and shellacked is a self-care ritual that many of us look forward to. But since going to the salon isnt always in the cards, its important to know how to take that ritual into your own hands. Of course, you probably already know how to file and paint your nails. But a great at-home manicure comes down to which polish you use. We recommend setting your typical lacquers aside and opting for a gel nail polish formula. Youll find its the key to a long-lasting, chip-free manicure.
How To Diy Gel Nails
First things first, its vital to master the craft. The trick is to ensure your nails are perfectly prepped before you start to paint. Make sure your nails are totally clean and free from polish. Take care of your cuticles too, gently pushing them back with cuticle cream and a hoof stick .
To ensure maximum success with an at-home kit, the most crucial thing is to keep your layers of gel thin: paint them too thickly, and they wont set properly. Whats more, remember to run over the free edge of your nail to seal your mani sufficiently.
To find out whether these DIY gel nail kits can really meet your impeccably high standards, we tested all the best ones on the market to bring you the eight that impressed us the most. Drum roll please.
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Chanel Le Gel Coat Longwear Top Coat $28
Forget knock-off bags Chanels Le Gel Coat is the most economically friendly way to wear real Chanel. Better yet, it provides the benefits of gel nail polish without needing a UV light system. Simply dry your nails with natural light before moving on with your day thats better than everyone elses. Fash-un.
How Long Will The Manicure Last
At a minimum, you want a gel manicure to last for two weeks. Thats usually the timeline quoted in a salon, and that should be your goal. But you can find brands that will promise even longer wear, often upwards of 21 days. This can be ideal for people that dont want to do their nails frequently. However, to achieve those results, youll want to follow the brand instructions exactly as specified.
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Other Diy Gel Manicure Kits We Considered:
- Le Mini Macaron Le Maxi Deluxe Gel Manicure Set : Overall, this DIY gel manicure kit is easy to use. The directions are straightforward, and the nail polish cures quickly and without a sticky residue, even without a top coat. That said, I was quick to notice the kit doesn’t come with a top coat or base coat. The directions also don’t mention best practices for how to apply them, either. Le Mini Macaron does sell two top coats: a shine formula and a matte formula. I wish the kit would include one or the other, especially given its price point. The kit also doesn’t work as well with other brands’ polishes, which is limiting.
- Enova Cosmetics Gel Nail Polish Kit : There’s a lot to love about this compact gel kit. For starters, it’s super portable, and will take up hardly any space in your home. It doesn’t require a base or top coat, and the gel polish applies beautifully through a tube. All you have to do is squeeze and the color comes through the bristles that are perfectly shaped to paint an even coat of color over your nails. The reason Enova’s gel kit didn’t make my top 5 list, is because I applied the color on a Sunday, and by Tuesday morning, it was chipping. As much as I love how convenient the system is, the wide array of color options, and how quickly it generated a fabulous manicure, I felt that the lack of base or top coat negatively affected the manicure’s potential for longwear.
What Is Gel Polish
Gel polish is a type of nail polish that is applied in layers and cured under a UV or LED light. It is typically more expensive than standard nail polish but lasts much longer.
The nail polish industry is a billion-dollar industry. With so many different brands on the market, it can be hard to decide which one to buy.
There are a number of different gel polish brands on the market, but only a few are worth considering.
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Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro
Not only will this formula give you that salon-worthy manicure you’re after with lots of shine and evenly distributed color but it will also improve the health of your nails while you wear it. Infused with oils and botanical extracts that nourish and strengthen, this polish won’t jeopardize your nails, so you won’t have trouble wearing them bare after. Choose from 11 bold shades, including a mix of bright and neutral hues.
Shop now: $20 nordstrom.com
How Easy Is The Application Process
Most at-home gel manicure kits are designed to be fairly goof-proof, although they do require more steps than a regular polish manicure. While you might have some issues with thick polish, the majority are designed to be applied similarly to if you were giving yourself a manicure with regular polish.
But some options are more advanced. For example, our Best Natural pick has gel polish in squeeze tubes instead of bottles and requires a more complex process to create gel nails especially on yourself. If youre not the best at more advanced tricks, stick to whats familiar and opt for traditional bottle applications.
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The 6 Best Nail Polishes For At
Getting your nails done by someone else is a nice treat, but painting them yourself can be quite relaxing as well. You just have to have the right polish ready. So, in the spirit of research , we swiped every bottle we could get our hands on to see which ones truly worked the best. Here are the six winners that you can try for yourself at home.
Best Soak Off Gel Nail Polish
When it comes to gel polish, there are a lot of different brands and types to choose from.
So which one is the best?
Well, that depends on your personal preferences.
Some people prefer soak off gel polish because its more durable and can last up to two weeks without chipping.
The brands of gel polish linked above can be soaked off using acetone. Apply nail polish remover to a cotton pad, then wrap the pad around your nail. Wrap tin foil around the nail or a nail clip like these. Then wait for 10-15 minutes and the gel will peel right off.
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Best For Beginners: Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit
What We Love: There are only three steps, making it ideal for beginners.
What We Don’t Love: There’s only one shade of polish included.
A household name, Sally Hansen is a trusted source when it comes to all things nails, so it’s no wonder that the brand’s at-home gel nail kit is ideal for someone trying to learn the basics. “This kit is perfect for beginners because it involves only three steps and is so simple to follow,” our tester shares.
The kit contains an LED lamp, one polish color, both top and base coats, and nail care essentials like a file and buffer to help shape nails. What makes this kit unique is how fast it works. “The drying time was very quick and it wasn’t sticky after the suggested curing time ,” the tester adds. “It dried hard, smooth and streak-free.” Plus, according to the brand, the kit lasts for up to 10 gel manicures, which is a pretty good value for $60 total
That said, this kit covers the basics and nothing more. While a minimalist might love the fact that there’s only one shade, the tester notes that she wishes there were more colors available with the kit. However, you can shop all 21 of the gel polish shades, which are sold separately, at Sally Hansen. After all, variety is key when it comes to nail polish.
LED Light: Yes | Nail Polish Included: 1 | Features: Nail care accessories, LED lamp
Best Gel Nail Kits To Use At Home
No matter the reason, sometimes you just want to do your nails at home. But at the same time, you want that manicure to last. And this might mean that its time to upgrade your nail polish collection to include an at-home gel nail kit that will give you plenty of shine and no chipping or cracking for at least two weeks. But before you run to the nearest beauty retailer or drugstore, you should check out our guide that not only highlights some of the best gel nail kits but also clarifies what you need to know before you spend your money.
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Best Overall: Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit
What We Love: It comes with eight polish colors and cute embellishments.
What We Don’t Love: The options can be overwhelming for a first-timer.
For someone looking to dip their toes into doing their own gel manicures, this kit is an excellent place to start. The comprehensive set is equipped with all of the essentials you need to prep your nails and craft unique designs from the comfort of your home. With six bottles of regular gel polish and two bottles of temperature-changing ombre polish, you’ll never get bored with your nails.
As if the eight polish colors weren’t enough, the kit also comes with a selection of embellishments like flower decals, holographic sequins, and a variety of rhinestones to seriously upgrade your mani. The kit also includes an acid-free primer, a dehydrator , a base coat, a top coat, and eight manicure tools .
If you’ve ever gotten a gel manicure, then you know that the gel polish needs to cure underneath a UV light in order to harden. This kit comes with a professional-grade, 48-watt LED light that offers three timer settings at 5-, 30- and 60-seconds. The heat setting is automated at low, so you can’t change it, but, fear not: The tester shares that the light emits moderate warmth, rather than piping hot light.
LED Light: Yes | Nail polish included: 8 | Features: Decals, sequins and rhinestones
Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit Is A Salon
Pros: Last up to 21 days, comes with all the tools you need for a salon-quality manicure
Cons: Longer time commitment, removal process is very messy
Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit not only has rave reviews from customers, but their queue of UV lamps look like something you’d find at a professional nail salon. I’m pleased to report it performs like salon equipment, too.
The Pro Kit includes a pre- and post-application cleanser, remover, base coat, top coat, one gel nail polish, cuticle oil, adhesion sanitizer , a UV lamp, and prepping utensils. While the multi-step manicure can feel overwhelming, each serves a purpose and adds to gorgeous nails, so I don’t recommend skipping them.
This UV lamp also works on a timer, and cures nails in about 45 seconds. The entire process takes about 20 minutes. It’s a longer time commitment than other UV lamps on our list, but the end result is unparalleled, so I really appreciate Red Carpet Manicure’s attention to detail.
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Gelish Mini Basix Complete Starter Kit
Since this set didn’t come with instructions, we had to look up the steps online, and even then, they weren’t very clear. Beyond that, the gel layers never seemed to fully dry, which resulted in a clumpy effect. And the polish didn’t last more than 24 hours, leaving our tester’s nails slightly damaged in its wake.
What To Do Once Your Nails Grow
So, you successfully applied the gel polish and its been two weeks. There arent any chips or dents and all is wellexcept for the growing gap underneath the color.
Your nails will continue to grow and create a naked spot underneath the color. Its really the only downside of long-lasting polish. The gap can be a bit unappealing to look at and throw off the entire look of the manicure, but dont worry: there are a few solutions.
Apply More Paint
You could simply paint over the bare spot on your nails. Its not the easiest solution since youll have to blend it into the previous paint job, work in a small area, and potentially have to push back new cuticle growth.
You can take advantage of the situation by adding a new color. Color blocking is a popular design choice and will probably earn you a few extra oohs and ahhs. Plus, you wont have to try so hard to make it blend in. Use tape to block off the rest of the nail to create a stark contrast between the two colors.
If you want something more exciting than color blocking, try getting creative. Use nail glue and glitter or rhinestones to cover up the area. Use white to draw a border between the polish and the bare nail and call it a reverse French manicure .
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Gel Nail Polish Prices
Gel nail polish is available in single bottles and in sets or kits. A quality kit will contain a variety of colours, although the bottles are often small . They range in price from about $15 to $30 for around eight to 20 bottles, and some include base and top coats. You can purchase top and base coats together, or smaller sets that include one to a few colours and a base or top coat. Expect to pay around $10 to $23 for this option. You can also choose your favourite premium gel nail polish individually, which runs approximately $13 to $25 or a bit higher per standard size bottles . You may also opt for a complete gel manicure kit, with everything you need for an at-home manicure, although usually, the quality isnt the best, and a decent kit should cost close to $100.
What To Look For When Buying Top Coat Nail Polish
There are hundreds of options when it comes to top coat nail polish. First, youll have to decide whether to use a regular nail polish, lacquer, which is a slightly thicker, more durable version of traditional nail polish, or gel. According to Aaron, top coats which are labeled as instant dry or quick dry are ideal for regular polish and lacquer.
Since both formulas take longer to dry, and even longer if your coats are too thick, a quick-drying top coat helps set the polish faster. You also have to decide which look youre going for, says Aaron. Do you want an ultra glossy manicure or are you going for a trendy matte look? Speaking of looks, here are some subtle things your nail polish color reveals about you.
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What Comes In The Kit
As you saw in our round-up, not all gel manicure kits are created equal. Some versions are color polish-only, others also include base and topcoats, and then other variants include a gel lamp and nail tools. So, youll need to consider whether or not you want an all-in-one solution or if youre okay with buying some items separately.
How To Apply Gel Nails At Home
It is possible to get salon-quality gel nails at home, however, it takes a few more steps and supplies compared with regular nail polish. A gel polish and lamp are essential, but there are a few additional items that we recommend for achieving a perfect manicure at home.
These items include a nail buffer, cuticle remover, base coat, top coat, alcohol wipes or something similar, and cuticle oil.
First, you need to prep your nails. File your nails to your desired length and shape. Use the cuticle remover to remove or push your cuticles back. Gel polish won’t adhere to your nails correctly if they have any kind of oil on them, so make sure you wipe your nails with alcohol wipes, acetone, or a nail prep solution.
You can then apply the base coat. Make sure you don’t get any of the base on your fingers, and then cure it under the lamp as directed. Next, you apply the color. It’s best to apply gel polish in thin layers and build up the color if needed with additional layers. Make sure that you cure the polish fully between each layer.
When you’re happy with the color and have applied any nail decorations, you can add the top coat. Again, cure as directed.
Some gel polish will still feel tacky to the touch, even if it has been correctly cured. This is normal! Use alcohol wipes to wipe this tacky layer off. Apply cuticle oil to your nails, and you’re ready to go!
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