Treat yourself with these affordable must-haves.
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Getting my nails done keeps them looking nice and also cuts out my bad habit of biting my fingernails. But getting a bi-monthly gel manicure is costly. Plus, with the pandemic going on, I want to stay as safe as possible and avoid unnecessary outings. So, I've learned to do my nails at home. (And I've mastered the art of removing my polish.) You can do your own professional-looking manicure right at home, too, even if you've never attempted a gel manicure at home.

Before you attempt an at-home gel manicure, you'll need to get a few supplies. First, you'll need a gel-based polish. There are many different brands, but they're all formulated to provide the same result: To give you a chip-free manicure that lasts 10 to 14 days. But unlike traditional polish, the gel doesn't air-dry. It hardens thanks to an LED (or UV) lamp. This list features several lamps, polishes, and kits that include everything you need for a gorgeous at-home manicure.

If you're new to doing your nails, don't worry. With just a little practice, you'll become better and better each time you paint. Plus, you'll be saving plenty of money as a gel manicure costs anywhere from $35 to $50 at a salon. Who knows? You might become a total pro and exclusively do your nails yourself.

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led light
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Gel LED Lamp

To harden your gel polish to a chip-free finish, you'll need to dry it under an LED light, like this one. This version has a 7-watt bulb a timer you can set for either 30 or 60 seconds. The light, which plugs into an outlet, works on both your hands and your feet.

Buy It: SensatioNail LED Lamp ($14, Target)

sally hansen kits
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

Gel Polish Kit

This kit from Sally Hansen comes with everything you need for a salon-like experience. It includes an LED lamp, a base coat, a nail color, a top coat, 10 cleanser pads, a bottle of acetone, a cuticle stick, a file and buffer, and an instruction sheet. The hue is a light pink called Shell We Dance, and if you'd like more options, Ulta offers six other colors for $13 each.

Buy It: Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit ($60, Ulta)

mini nail kit
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

Mini Gel Manicure Kit

If you're low on storage space, this miniature kit that hardens one nail at a time is perfect. It includes a USB-chargeable mini LED lamp, one polish, a cuticle stick, a mini nail file, gel polish remover pads, and instructions for application and removal. You can choose a gel color from seven available shades (four different pinks, a red, a maroon, and a white).

Buy It: Le Mini Macaron 1-Step Gel Manicure Kit ($35, Ulta)

gel polish kit
Credit: Courtesy of Walgreens

Beginner Gel Nail Kit

This is another easy-to-use option for beginners. It comes with an LED lamp, one polish, cuticle stick, a file, and a buffer. The gel shade is Made Him Blush, which is a light pink.

Buy It: Sensationail Polish to Gel Transformer Starter Kit ($30, Walgreens)

lacquer lamp
Credit: Courtesy of BUTTER London

Peel-Off Gel Lacquer Lamp

You can use the PURECURE lamp with one of Butter London's peel-off polishes, which sell for $18, or with any other gel-based color you have at home. It has an automatic hand sensor that's set for 60 seconds as well as a manual on and off button.

Buy It: PURECURE Peel-Off Gel Lacquer Lamp ($20, Butter London)


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