2022-07-30 03:27:22 By : Mr. Steel Saky

Over the past few years, many have become makeshift at-home nail technicians. Some experiment with press-ons, polish or designs, while others focus on improving overall nail health. One thing’s for certain: Frequent manicure appointments can be time-consuming and expensive.

There’s a budget-friendly alternative: The best at-home gel nail kits can be used regularly or in between professional services, and are a great way to keep your nails looking fresh. Plus, they basically pay for themselves after a couple of uses. Unlike regular nail polish, which somehow always manages to chip as soon as you exit the salon, gel polish is practically budge-proof thanks to the use of an LED or UV light in between each coat to cure the polish and make sure the color stays put.

At-home gel nail kits are a great way to keep your nails looking fresh and chip-free.

Whether you’re a pro or a rookie, or are looking for something portable or affordable, there’s an option out there for you. Read on for our top picks for gel nail kits, along with application advice from experts.

Red Carpet Manicure’s 8-piece set has everything you need beyond the typical gel polish and LED light pairing to create a salon-worthy manicure. It includes a nail primer, pre- and post-cleanser, foil wraps for removal and a nourishing cuticle oil. Fans of the kit stress the importance of following the instructions included, noting that the prep step is as essential as applying the polish. 

Nail artist Kesang Gurung adds that the cuticle oil provided in the kit can and should be  applied in the days and weeks after painting nails to help them last longer. “It helps to hydrate and strengthen your nails, making them look fresh, but also preventing them from chipping and breaking,” she says.

A mainstay in the nail space, it’s not surprising that Sally Hansen has a gel nail kit that’s beloved among many. It comes with the essentials: an LED lamp, gel base and top coat along with some basic tools. While compact, users can get up to ten manicures out of the set and the instructions are easy to follow for those trying out at-home gel kits for the first time.

Speaking of beginners, nail artist and Pear Nova founder Rachel James says that nail health should always be a priority, and proper prep can factor into that. Sally Hansen’s kit comes with several nail cleanser pads for this purpose. James says, “Gel manicures and pedicures will last longer with a strong foundation and, if applied properly, the gel polish will help to protect your natural nail.”

Gurung has reached for CND’s shellac products for years because of their high quality and great coverage. The removal process is also easy. She notes, “You don’t have to file the top layer of the gel, all you have to do is wrap it in an aluminum foil for 10-15 mins and it just falls off in one piece.” For that reason, she notes it would be great for at-home use.

There is a catch: Gurung says it doesn’t last as long as other gel brands but adds that “it doesn’t damage your nails and, for me, I would go for nail health over the longevity of the polish.”

Not the best at applying nail polish—gel or otherwise? Stickers and nail wraps are a great alternative. This brand asks very little of its customers: Simply select the best size (each packet comes with 20 strips in 10 different sizes), stick them on each nail and trim so that they fit correctly. Don’t skip the curing step which will keep the wraps in place and ensure they last for up two weeks. A topcoat also helps, according to some reviews. The nail wraps come in a variety of colors and designs, from marble to terracotta.

We get it: Life gets busy and sometimes you don’t have the luxury to use your kit at home, which is where Le Mini Macaron’s adorable one-step product comes in. The polish includes a base and top coat right in the polish so you don’t have to lug around a bunch of bottles, while the LED lamp can be conveniently charged with a USB cord that can plug into an outlet as easily as it can a laptop. 

It does only cure one nail at a time, but it helps that it takes a swift 30 seconds to do so. The key to a long-lasting look seems to be applying the polish in thin coats.

This kit comes with 19 different items—including a buffer, primer and LED lamp—for less than $30. Just because the price is low, it doesn’t mean the product skimps on quality, either. Users praise it for its easy application process (only takes three steps and the nails cure in just 60 seconds) and note that the setup is great even for rookie DIYers. Just remember that practice makes perfect.  

Love the long-lasting durability of gel polish but hate the smell and the petrochemical compounds typically found in them? Try Lilaque. Its gel polish and top coat contain a soybean oil derivative as the main ingredient which is described as low odor. The brand’s at-home manicure system also includes a mini nail lamp, emery board, buffer, and alcohol and acetone remover pads. Users can achieve an enviable manicure in 30 minutes or less, and it generally lasts seven to 14 days.

The name Lilaque is a reference to “lacquer” and “lilac,” a wink to the product’s plant-based formula. The nail lamp, while small compared to others, is also shaped like a pretty blossoming flower. 

Choosing the best at-home gel nail kit depends on what you’re hoping to achieve and how often you plan on using it. Are you only looking to give yourself a manicure or touch-up in between salon appointments? Then you might just need the basics. Are you really leaning into being an at-home technician? Then it helps to have a fully stocked kit. The main essentials, as recommended by Gurung and James, include a UV or LED lamp to cure the polish, a gel base and top coat, a nail shade you like, nail file, buffer, cuticle pusher, rubbing alcohol and acetone.

Start off by filing and shaping nails to your desired length and shape. From there, lightly buff the nails to smooth out any ridges and push the cuticles back. Next, wipe with rubbing alcohol “for a clean and dry canvas,” says James. Then apply a thin layer of the base coat and cure under the lamp for 60-90 seconds. Follow that up with two coats of your preferred nail shade, curing after each coat for the same amount of time. During this step, James says, “You can use a clean-up brush dipped in acetone while painting to remove any gel polish that is on the skin or cuticles.” Lastly, apply a no-wipe topcoat and cure.

Gurung adds that if you’re using a regular top coat, wiping it with alcohol after applying is essential “so that it doesn’t feel sticky.” She recommends topping everything off with some cuticle oil on each nail for some bonus shine and moisture.