Treat yourself to a salon-like experience with these affordable must-haves.

By Jennifer Aldrich
March 30, 2020
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If you're someone (like me) who has a routine of going to the nail salon for a fresh manicure every few weeks, you're probably brushing up on your at-home polish application skills right about now. No, you can't pay a visit to your nail technician, but you can learn to do your own nails. You'll begin by removing your current color, which is important because if done incorrectly, you can damage your nailbeds. But don't worry, we broke down how to remove your gel nail polish (and other types too), which involves removing the polish with acetone, and carefully filing the rest away.

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, 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. (To compare, one these kits that includes an LED lamp, a colored polish, and a couple of tools costs just $15.89.) Who knows? You might become a total pro and exclusively do your nails yourself.

Credit: Courtesy of Target

As you know now, 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: $13.19, Target

Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

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 $12.99 each.

Buy It: $59.99, Ulta

Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

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 the gel color that's included, from seven shades, including four different pinks, a red, a maroon, and a white.

Buy It: $35, Ulta

Credit: Courtesy of Target

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. You can check out other colors from Target, including a mauve and a black, for just $5.99.

Buy It: $15.89, Target

Credit: Courtesy of BUTTER London

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: $25, BUTTER London


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