Looking for long-lasting, pretty spring nails? It’s easier than ever with the popularity of at-home gel manicure kits growing and new offerings hitting the market every month. We tested out the latest kits and some fun new add-ons to make your DIY gel manicure even better!
Kiss Everlasting Gel Polish
LED Gel Lamp, $29.99, beautyonlinesupply.com
Gel Polish Starter System, $19.99, beautyonlinesupply.com
There’s lots to love about this gel nail kit: it’s inexpensive and available in most major drugstores, where you can often score additional discounts or earn cash back on purchases. But the quality is also worth noting. The LED lamp is larger and feels sturdier than others in the same price range—big enough to accommodate toes, too. The color range is small, but we loved the aqua shade called Sweet for spring nails. Even better, for just a few bucks more, you can buy a version of the starter kit with the materials to do a professional-looking French manicure.
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Hand & Nail Harmony Gelish
Basix Kit and Mini Pro LED Curing Light, $49.95 and $69.95, sallybeauty.com
The most recent gel manicure kits to hit the market seem to emphasize customization. Gelish, a salon-quality brand available to the public at Sally Beauty Supply offers several sizes of LED lights, including a small battery-operated version for just $19 and a medium-sized lamp that cures in 45 seconds and costs $69.95. We loved how quickly the latter cured and the diamond-like finish it gave—glossy and rock-hard. One nifty add-on that Gelish offers is a Foil Wrap Removal Kit. Rather than soak your fingers in a bowl of acetone, you soak the cotton pad and wrap your fingers in foil. This method (which you could recreate with foil and cotton pads you have at home) made removal much faster and gentler on the nails and surrounding skin. We’re converts!
Couture Gel Nail Polish Kit
If you’re a DIY pro who wants to replicate the salon experience at home as much as possible, this is the kit for you. The 36-watt UV lamp is the type used in salons and will cure virtually any brand of gel polish you can buy. It also allows you to cure all five fingers at once—unlike every other lamp we’ve tried. The kit comes with your choice of three colors from Couture’s impressive selection, which includes a rainbow of color and glitter options for spring nails, and the bottles contain nearly twice as much product as other brands. A word of caution: We found this polish had a runnier texture than other brands and application took a bit of practice. On the plus side? It stayed put until removal, but then practically slid off our nails with no damage. If you have some experience with gels, this is a worthwhile upgrade to your collection—especially since the company offers a money-back 60-day guarantee.
Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit
No doubt Red Carpet is a brand that keeps on top of nail art trends: In addition to its impressive gel starter kit, it offers several cost-effective gel kits that give you all the tools you need to create spring nails adorned with dots, ombre, rhinestones or glitter. We tested out the
Gems & Jewels Manicure Kit , which includes three colors, three types of glitter and rhinestones for just $29.99. The application can be a little messy, but it wasn’t difficult, and we got a super-impressive multi-colored glitter effect that lasted for weeks—and no one could believe we did it ourselves.
Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit
It was only a matter of time before the drugstore’s most popular nail brand released its own version of gel nail polish. And it doesn’t disappoint—this kit earned high marks from us for its user-friendliness and the fact that we could get a shiny, opaque manicure in just one coat, which speeds up the process. The starter kit itself only comes with three fairly ordinary color options—pale pink, red or wine—but Sally Hansen has reproduced many the regular line’s popular colors in gel form for purchase separately, like Commander in Chic, a purpley-taupe perfect for sophisticated spring nails.