The 3 Best At-Home Gel Nail Kits

By Marissa DeSantis

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 kit. The best ones will include everything you need: 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 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 at-home gel nail kits you can buy on Amazon, below.

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 Mini Soak Off Gel Nail Polish Kit will give you that same long-lasting quality right at home, while saving you money in the long run. In addition to a full-size LED light for curing, the kit comes with five nail polish colors (two full-size options and three minis), a pre-polish cleanse, base coat, top coat, finishing cleanse, cuticle oil, and gel polish remover.

"This kit has paid for itself already after I've used it 4x. I love the small LED curing lamp, because my whole hand doesn't go in it. With people having issues with the aging of their hands from those curing lamps, I'd rather have a smaller lamp that I can just put my fingertips in. It comes with every single step needed, and 5 colors ... My nails always look amazing and they are as smooth and shiny when I do them with this kit as they are when I have them done at a salon," one reviewer reports.

2. The Best Kit Under $35

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 Sanitizer 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.

"Works like a charm. Fast and easy to use. The portable light is perfect to take along on a trip or for doing your nails on the couch while watching your favorite movie. Quick to dry and lasted weeks!" raves one reviewer.

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 shares, "This worked great, and was fast and easy to use. It's exactly like a salon ... Best of all, I used the light with other (cheaper) brands of gel polish and had no problems, which means more choices too. I'm really happy I bought this and it will save tons of money overall. The polish was also easy to remove and didn't cause any damage, and the light seems study."

Another reviewer says, "It takes me 30 minutes to do a complete manicure but the best part is my nails are completely dry as soon as I am done! The polish really does last me a full 2 weeks without chipping or scratching."

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