The 3 Best At-Home Gel Nail Kits

Unpopular beauty opinion alert: Manicures aren’t worth the money. Yes, the occasional trip to the salon can do a world of good (not just for your cuticles, but for your mind, too), but sticking to a gel appointment every two weeks is both time-consuming and expensive. Not only can you save more than $40 by doing your nails yourself, but the best at-home gel nail kits make the whole process surprisingly easy. Plus, you can create a whole soothing self-care setup by putting on a face mask and catching up your favorite shows while you do your nails.

But before you get started, you need to choose the right gel nail kit. The best ones will include everything you need for a manicure: the LED light to cure your nails, a base coat, a top coat, an application cleanser, and at least one shade of nail polish.

Once you’ve got the basics in your arsenal, you can start adding more gel polish colors to your collection and get creative with designs as you perfect the at-home shellac process. As you start, remember to read through the directions entirely before you begin, and keep them handy as you continue. Another tip to keep in mind is to apply your polish (base, color, and top) in thin coats, as almost every at-home issue, such as the polish feeling tacky or peeling off within days, can be traced back to applying polish too thickly. And don’t skip on the pre- or post-application cleanser as it removes any oil on your nails prior to painting so the polish adheres better (and once complete, it takes away stickiness for a smooth, shiny finish).

Find three of the best DIY gel nail kits you can buy on Amazon, below.

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1. The Overall Best At-Home Gel Nail Kit

If you’ve previously been a salon-only gel manicure enthusiast, you’ve probably noticed Gelish as one of the brands the pros use. Their Intro Starter Kit will give you that same long-lasting quality right at home, while saving you money in the long run. In addition to a LED light for curing, the kit comes with two nail polish colors, a pre-polish cleanse, base coat, top coat, finishing cleanse, cuticle oil, and gel polish remover.

"I was a hairdresser for 20 years. I wanted my own gel nail kit, but at at my discount price the uv light and polish is still rather spendy. This kit is great and you can’t go wrong with the price and Gelish brand. Highly recommend it!!" one reviewer reported.

2. Author’s Pick

This Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Starter Kit was my first ever at-home set, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Red Carpet Manicure was the first company to create an at-home take on the popular in-salon gel manicure, and they’ve been perfecting the process ever since. This affordable starter kit comes with a portable, battery-operated LED light that’s super-tiny so it won’t take up much space. The kit also includes the brand’s Prep Max Adhesion Primer to clean nails before painting, plus a base coat, a shine-enhancing top coat, a post-application cleanser, cuticle oil, gel nail polish remover, and gel polish in Red Carpet Reddy. And if red polish isn’t your thing, Red Carpet Manicure offers more than 100 gel polish colors, most of which are available on Amazon, from classic pastels to bolder vampy and neon shades, and even sparkling metallics.

One reviewer commented, "I’ve been using this kit for 5 years, every 2 weeks I repaint my nails. It has paid for itself hundreds of times over. I have purchased more colors and refill solutions and top/base coats. Also, pro tip, alcohol works just fine as the purify solution when you run out of that. This kit is a must have for me!"

3. Another Solid Pick From A Classic Drugstore Brand

For a drugstore take on the at-home gel mani, Sally Hansen’s Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit is another affordable contender to consider. Though slightly smaller than the other kits on this list, it still includes everything you need for 10 at-home manicures: an LED lamp, base coat, top coat, 10 cleanser pads, gel polish remover, a cuticle stick, nail file, nail buffer, and nail polish in Red My Lips. While the lamp and polishes will certainly last you longer than 10 uses, you’ll need to restock on the cleansing pads and remover for future manicures. Many reviewers note, however, that for best results, you must follow the instructions to a T.

One happy customer shared, "I’ve been using this kit for 5 years, every 2 weeks I repaint my nails. It has paid for itself hundreds of times over. I have purchased more colors and refill solutions and top/base coats." Another reviewer wrote, "Surprisingly easy to use. Nails look same as salon and lasted 3 weeks! Definitely buy it."

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