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.
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).