IF you're looking for a long-lasting, chip-free manicure, gels are one of the most popular and effective beauty treatments out there.
Softer than acrylics (plus less damaging), a glossy gel mani is a salon favourite many of us can't live without—but they're just as easily achieved at home with a DIY kit that will save you money in the long run, not to mention keep your nails looking great while salons wait to reopen.
The best gel nail kits come with a lamp to harden or 'cure' the polish, just like what you'd expect at a salon, along with a selection of gel polishes that include every layer you need: we're talking primer, base coat and top coat.
UV lamps have traditionally been used at salons for years, but of course it's important to bear in mind that long-term exposure to UV can be harmful: for that reason, many nail technicians and DIY beauty gurus opt for LED lamps these days which cure in less the time and are kinder to skin. Win-win.
Gels can be quite thick in constistency, so building up coverage using thin layers is absolutely key. Once you've got the hang of it, these kits are truly addictive: you'll never have bad nails again!
So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best gel nail kits below to get your fingers looking mighty fancy—plus we've put one to the test ourselves to see just how easy it is. Let's go!
1. We tried: Mylee The Full Works Complete Gel Polish Kit (Black)
Mylee The Full Works Complete Gel Polish Kit (Black) – Autumn/Winter, £130 from Mylee – buy here
Mylee has been championing affordable, at-home nails ever since it launched in 2014, and as a fave with many a pro nail technician, it's definitely a good place to start if you're looking to recreate the salon experience at home.
We tried the Full Works kit, which as the name suggests, contains pretty much everything you'll need for the perfect gel manicure from prep to finish—including cuticle oil, Prep and Wipe & Remove Duo, lint wipes, a buffing block, top coat, base coat, eight polish colours and the all-important LED lamp.
For those who have never delved into the world of DIY nail lamps and gels, this kit makes it super-easy to try out, with fool-proof instructions explaining every step. After preparing our nails with a cuticle stick, nail file and buffing block, we applied Mylee's Prep & Polish Wipe with the lint-free cloths provided, which sanitises the nail plate. Once that was done, it was time to start painting and curing. We did find the gels to be of quite a thick consistency, so applying them as thinly as possible is probably a skill we'll need some practice at. The colour choice was great though, with a range of pastels, rich hues and glittery gels to suit all tastes.
Over to the lamp itself: we loved that it was lightweight, roomy enough to cure all five fingers at once and was super-easy to use. With three settings, all we needed to do was apply a coat at a time, press our desired cure time (15, 30 or 60 seconds) and the lamp got to work without fail. Once we'd applied a few coats and cured each for 30 seconds, we finished with the kit's top coat and a further 60 seconds under the lamp.
The gels were still tacky at this point (which is normal) so we were slightly worried we needed more curing time, but a quick application of the Prep & Polish Wipe took away all the stickiness and revealed cured, glossy nails that we're now obsessed with.
2. We tried: Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit
- Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit Rose Crème, £20.95 from Feel Unique – buy here
If you’re looking for a kit that’s easy-to-use, reasonably priced and delivers a good result, this nifty little number might just be for you.
Apparently, everything you need is inside for a gel polish manicure, including a file, little wipes to rid of dust or oils, and gel polish. We tried out the beautiful Macaroon-style kit to see if it gives you just as chic nails.
Thankfully there's an easy step-by-step guide that comes with the kit (we'd never done gel nails at home before!), which tells you to file your nails, clean them with the cuticle stick and little wipes, and proceed to paint with gel polish, then hold inside the mini macaroon for 30 seconds and repeat once.
Attaching the macaroon to a power socket is super easy, and the light turns off when your 30 secs is up – all in all, it's straightforward and safe enough for any nail-painting age.
We managed to varnish both hands with the vibrantly glossy Cherry Red shade in the space of about 15 minutes, with results good enough to be straight from the salon.
Of course, the neatness of your manicure is really down to how steady your hand is, as you have to be good at painting in the lines to give yourself a fabulous set. But we believe in you.
As a test to the quality of Le Mini Macaron's gel polish, we worked out, walked the dog, hair-washed, and cooked dinner before deciding whether it's worth it. Our manicure fortunately remained intact besides a tiny scratch, take with that what you will.
3. Best Budget Gel Nail Set: Fuse Nail Gel Starter Kit
- Fuse Nail Gel Starter Kit, Na-No Way!, £16.41 from Amazon – buy here
Like anything in life, the more prep you put into a project the better the result.
However, if you’re a busy girl-on-the-go, you might not have the time you’d like to spend beautifying your nails. The answer? The Fuse Nail Starter Kit. It keeps things simple with just one bottle of gel colour and a mini LED lamp.
And, while some kits require two coats of application, all you need here is one coat, 30 seconds of curing for each nail, and you’re done.
It is a cute kit that you can even carry around in your handbag – and the price is a deal-clincher, too.
4. Best For The Full Salon Experience: SensatioNail Gel Polish Starter Kit
- SensatioNail Gel Starter Kit, Coral Sunset, £45.73 from Amazon – buy here
Find a comfy spot, sit back, and get ready to give yourself a salon-quality manicure right at home.
This kit contains everything you need for that in-salon experience, including a gel cleanser to clean your nails, and primer to prepare them, and then the base/top coat and gel colour polish itself.
You can use the provided nail file to get the shape you want before you start, and the manicure stick to wipe off any slips with the colour.
Apply your base/top coat after the primer and cure in 15 seconds. Then, apply your gel nail polish and cure in 30 seconds.
Another layer of base/top coat will add a high-shine, and then a final application of the gel cleanser with a wipe (included in the pack) gives a super-gloss finish.
Extra bonus? The LED lamp is big enough to put all your fingers in at once, which is also less fiddly. Your no-chip 'Coral Sunset' colour lasts up to two weeks before you need a top-up.
5. Most Professional Kit: Red Carpet Manicure Professional LED Kit
- Red Carpet Manicure Professional LED KIT, £89.95 from Lookfantastic – buy here
Call off the search! This is the gel nail kit to end all kits. Everything you could think of or need is included, meaning you won’t have to splash out on a salon visit for months.
There's a nourishing cuticle oil to prep your nail bed, a cleanser and sanitiser, gel nail colour, a shine top coat and a host of accessories which even includes 20 foil removal wraps (no picking at peeling varnish here).
6. Best For Nail Art: GelTouch Nail Art Kit
- GelTouch Nail Art Kit, £44.77 from Amazon – buy here
Are you a bit of a magpie? This sparkly set will be right up your street. Perfect for any nail art enthusiasts, it’s a polish-to-gel kit so the only fiddly part might be adding the beads and glitter.
Buff your nails and shape to your satisfaction before cleansing with provided wipes.
Paint your nails with your favourite varnish and wait to air dry. Then, add the gel nail top coat and use tweezers to start adding your glitter and beads while it’s wet.
Once your nails are pretty-as-a-picture, cure them for 60 seconds.
Apply another layer of the top coat and then cure for a further 60 seconds.
Do the final rub with a cleansing wipe for added shine and you’ve got yourself some dazzling red carpet-worthy nails.
After a couple of weeks when you fancy getting creative again, you can easily remove the gels as the formula contains simple peel-off technology. Pretty neat, huh?
7. Best Gift Idea: Le Mini Macaron Le Maxi Rouge And Moi Gel Manicure Set
- Le Maxi Rouge And Moi Gel Manicure Set, £65 from Missguided – buy here
Another set by Le Mini Macaron, the 'Le Maxi Rouge And Moi' is the perfect, pretty gift for a beauty-lover's birthday or Christmas.
From the sparkly nail file to the velvet bag and matching ruby-red led lamp, Le Mini Macaron's romantic deluxe gel manicure set is as beautiful as it is functional.
Including a full-size led lamp, four gel colours, cuticle stick, removable wraps, a nail file and an 'amour' postcard, this is an all-rounder that's sure to flawlessly replicate those trips to the salon.
8. Best For Extensions: Rio UV Gel Nail Extension Kit
- Rio UV Gel Nail Extension Kit, £19.99 from Argos – buy here
Want to hop on the XXL nail trend? Rio's 'UV Gel Nail Extension Kit' can be yours for under £20!
Offering formulated gel that reacts to UV light to create sturdy nail extensions, these can also just be used as a strong protective layer on top of your real nails.
The kit has a total of 100 tips! As well as clear UV gel, a finishing wipe, a grit file, a sanding block, a nail slicer, cuticle pusher, nail glue and an application brush.
They've also included a step-by-step DVD to assist you in creating a flawless manicure, how kind.
Which at home gel nail kit is the best?
To be honest, there are some really strong options available these days—and most kits will offer similar results at competitive prices. Our picks above are big contenders for the best of the best: and having tried Mylee's kit, we'd definitely lean towards that as being a winning choice.
Are home gel nail kits worth it?
In our opinion: yes!
The average gel manicure at a salon starts at around £25, which works out at £300+ a year for a monthly fix—plus more if you get regular pedicures too!
Considering the kits above are just a fraction of that cost, it definitely saves money in the long-term to master an at-home gel mani yourself.
Plus you can always do a mix of salon and at-home treatments to keep the costs down while still splashing out occasionally.
Which nail gel brand is best?
There are some popular contenders out there: among those that always come out top-rated are the likes of OPI, DND, Essie, Gelish, Nails INC and Sally Hensen.
Are UV lamps or LED lamps better for gel nails?
LED nail dryers offer a faster drying time compared to UV lights; it takes UV lights anywhere from eight to ten minutes to cure gels, while LED lamps take 30-45 seconds.
As an added perk, LED bulbs should last much longer than UV bulbs, as well as using less power, so they could save you money in the long run.
What do you need for gel nails at home?
If you want to do your nails at home, you'll need a UV or LED lamp, a base and top coat, gel cleanser, cuticle oil, primer, a buffer and lint-free wipes.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best gel nail kits? We've got a whole beauty section for you to explore.
Just fancy the lamp and not the full kit? Then take a look at our selection of the best nail lamps, here.
For more amazing product recommendations across fashion, parenting and more, check out the Sun Selects main page.
Source: Read Full Article