If you’ve been getting a gel manicure for years, it can hard to let the habit go. But let’s face it: weekly gel nails are pricey, and we don’t always have the time to go to the salon right when our mani is crying for it. Luckily, at-home gel kits are becoming more common and affordable—plus, they include everything you might need. Here are four different kits, each with their own method, so you can check out the one that might work best for you.
Lightning Speed Gel Kit by Kiss ($15)
This kit includes a brush on gel, which you apply by dipping nail tips into a loose powder, then placing them on your natural nails. In this kit, the gel is cured with an activator spray. It also includes a manicure stick and both natural and white tips.
Nutral Nail Gel Perfect UV-Free Gel-Color ($12)
This gel doesn’t have the fuss of a lot of other kits—no lamp or powder needed. The gel is applied like polish, with the first coat being an activator, and then the second (or second and third, depending upon preference) are polish; finish it off with a cleaner.
Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Starter Kit ($60)
While this kit is a bit more expensive, it gives the most professional finish. Red Carpet’s at-home version includes a battery-operated LED curing light, as well as both base and top coat gels, cuticle oil, and a gel nail-specific polish remover.
Cosmar Brush-On Nail Kit ($10)
With nail tips, gel overlay, nail glue, a buffer and manicure stick, this kit is both the most affordable and the most straight forward.
After you’ve experimented, if you don’t have gel-specific remover, here’s the best way to take off gel nails:
- Soak your nail for 5 to 10 minutes in a bowl of acetone nail polish remover.
- Gently pull off the gel nails.
- Apply the remover with a cotton ball to your natural nails, removing any excess or stickiness.
- Push back cuticles with an orange stick (available at most drugstores) then file and buff your natural nails.
- If you are leaving your nails gel free for a while, apply a clear nail growth or strengthening polish to keep nails healthy until the next manicure. We like Duri Cosmetics’s Rejuvacote growth polish.