I love a good looking set of nails, and have been thinking about at-home gel nail kits lately. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share thoughts on the best gel nail polish and kits within this simple “how to” article.
As you likely know, there are many errands and to-do steps involved when prepping for your wedding day. To ease the frantic chaos, consider what you can do for yourself. Instead of booking a slot at a salon to get your nails done, why not do them at home!?
Here’s how to quickly go about doing it before your big day:
- Look at buying one of the top gel nail kits listed in this article
- Set aside a chunk of time to relax as you get your hands ring-ready
- Assemble a group of your besties ahead of the big day
- Unwind, have a glass of wine, and reflect on the exciting day of love you’ve got waiting ahead!
Real gel nail polish requires a UV lamp to set and harden the nails, and they must be soaked off with acetone (soft gel nails) or chipped off (hard gel nails). The finish of soft gel nail polish is natural, lustrous and lasts for far longer than regular nail polish — no chipped nails on your wedding day!
There are also gel-like nail polishes that give the aesthetic benefits of a gel manicure without the use of a UV lamp. I recommend soft gel nails, as they can be easily removed at home with nail polish remover. Just make sure to have a rich hand cream standing by to replace any moisture lost.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best home gel nail kits below!
Best Home Gel Nail Kits
A gel nail kit for beginners should provide you with everything you need. It should definitely include a UV lamp to save you from making two purchases. After that initial lamp purchase, you can go ahead and start buying individual gel nail colors on their own. A good kit should include base coat, color, top coat and ideally, some other treatment products such as cuticle oil and polish remover.
1. Vishine Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit
We love this kit because you get everything you need, including the UV lamp. You also get manicure tools such as a cuticle pusher, dotting pen and a nail buffer.
The 6 polish colours are stunning, (grey-taupe, plum, pale pink, beige nude). You also get two glitter shades, a pinky shade and a white, opalescent shade. We think this is a great set for adventurous brides who want to play with nail art. You get striping tape, a matte top coat and french tip stickers. Choose a feature nail, or go all out and create a unique design for all 10 nails. Make a Pinterest board for ideas and use the included nail testers to experiment!
The price is pretty great considering you get all of the goods in one box.
2. Azure Beauty Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit
This well-loved set is a very thorough, comprehensive kit perfect for total beginners who need everything to complete the job. You get the UV lamp, tools (file, clippers, cuticle pusher), base and top coat, cleaning and removal wraps, cuticle oil and even a brush to remove any dust after nail prep.
My favorite part is that you get four colors! Three of these colors are quite vampy (deep red, aubergine and dark navy), with a silvery glitter shade too (that would be my choice). As always, use the UV lamp and tools with colors from other brands.
3. Gelish Pro Kit Professional Gel Nail Polish Set
I selected this kit for to-be brides who don’t want a whole lot of bulk added to their bathroom cupboard. You get the UV lamp and the necessary products, but you don’t get a bunch of tools and extras that you may already have.
You get cuticle nourishing oil, pH Bond to cleanse and balance the nail, base coat, top coat, polish remover, nail cleanser and LED lamp. The set comes with two colours, a true red and a frosted pale pink. All you need to add is a nail file and cuticle pusher — both of which are super cheap to pick up at the drugstore if you don’t already have them.
Best Home Gel Nail Polish
1. Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish + Top Coat Kit
Essie nail polish has been a longtime favorite of mine — shout out to my go-to shade ‘Muchi Muchi’!
These polishes are not technically gel polishes, as they don’t require a UV lamp in order to set. They are a regular nail polish with a gel-like finish. They have the natural shine and durability people choose gel manicures for. I’ve chosen this double set for anyone out there who wants a gel-like manicure for their big day, without having to purchase and use a UV lamp.
Definitely a good choice for brides who want to allocate only a small chunk of time to their nails. Simply brush on two coats of color, then use the top coat. Done.
The color Inside Scoop, which comes with this set, is exceptionally beautiful for lovers of pale, delicate pink.
2. Gel Lab Pro
Another gel-like nail polish that doesn’t require a UV lamp. The Deborah Lipman Gel Lab Pro polish won a “Best of Beauty” Award in 2018 from Allure, who truly know their stuff. We love it because it means you can slap it on quickly, at home, without having to buy extra equipment.
We recommend using a base and top coat (any will do) to help with longevity. A notable feature is that this brand is completely vegan! Our top colour pick is “Love Hangover”. A fitting shade name for a bride, no?
3. Gellen Gel Polish Set
I absolutely had to include this set by Gellen, (a super highly-rated gel nail polish brand). I love that you get 6 colors, allowing you to create some cool art or add a feature nail.
In my opinion, this color set is perfection because it has a bold fuschia, warm peachy orange, mid-toned peachy pink, classic pale pink, and TWO glitter shades for wedding day pizzaz. Perhaps you could buy this set in conjunction with the Gelish set so you’ve got your color choices, your UV light and your top/base coats too.
How to remove (soft) gel nails at home
Removing gel nails is more complicated and time consuming than regular nail polish removal. It’s all down to the molecular structure of the polish itself.
I wasn’t the greatest science student, so I won’t attempt to enlighten you on all the scientific nail polish stuff! All you need to know is that gel nails need a longer nudge in order to rid themselves from your natural nails. I strongly recommend that you get hard gel nails applied and removed by a pro at a salon. It takes some heavy chipping and filing and it’s just easier, cleaner and safer to have someone else do it for you.
We’re going to focus on soft gel nail polish removal, as you’re more likely to be using soft ones at home.
13 Steps to Remove Soft Gel Nails
- Take your nail file and gently file the top layer of your nails. This is to disrupt the top coat of the nail polish sequence so that the nail polish remover can soak more thoroughly into the color polish below
- Take a cotton round and soak it, (really soak it) in nail polish remover
- Wrap the soaked cotton tightly around your nail with a doubled-over piece of aluminum foil
- Repeat until all of the nails have been wrapped
- Sit back and relax for 15 minutes to let the nail polish remover really work its magic
- Remove all of the cotton and foil pieces
- Lift away the gel polish
- Use a wooden cuticle stick to nudge away any stuck bits
- Gently wipe away any excess product with nail polish remover
- Thoroughly clean and dry your hands
- Rub cuticle oil into the cuticles
- Apply a nourishing, strengthening product to your bare nail (optional, but advisable!)
- Moisturise your hands
How to do gel nails at home
We’re going to focus on soft gel nails, as we think they’re the best option for DIY application. Hard gel nails that are often used for lengthening the nails, need a little more technique and expertise in order to properly apply. Plus, they’re far tougher to remove!
If you’re looking for hard gel nails with nail art or lengthening, skip the at-home idea and book a trip to the salon.
To apply gel nail polish at home, you’ll need:
- Acetone/nail polish remover (if your nails already have polish on them)
- Nail file
- Nail clippers or scissors
- Cuticle oil/cream
- Cuticle pusher/orange stick
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Cotton rounds
- Old cloth (any lint-free cloth)
- Gel base coat, color, top coat
- A quiet hour to yourself to relax and take your time with the process! Perhaps recruit your maid of honour or bridesmaid to help you? They could be armed with Q-Tips to wipe up any rogue polish, and top up the champagne glasses!
Step 1 – Nail Prep
Make sure that your nails are clean, unpolished, shaped to your liking, and your cuticles are nourished and pushed back.
- Remove any existing polish with nail polish remover (if removing gel polish, see above!)
- Wash your hands in water to remove any excess polish remover
- Shape and file your nails with clippers and a glass nail file
- Wipe away any dust created by the nail filing process
- Apply a cuticle cream or oil to your cuticles and try not to get too much of it on your nails
- Use your cuticle pusher or orange stick to push back the cuticles. I advise against cutting or dissolving your cuticles as it can go too far, causing bleeding, pain and infection
- Clean and dry your nails and hands, making sure to remove any oily product from your nails (or else the gels can peel away!)
- Some kits include a sanitizing product which goes on before the base coat, so use that according to the instructions
Step 2 – Apply Base Coat
- Have a small towel, Q-Tip, and your UV lamp all set up in front of you before you begin the “painting” steps
- Take the base coat from your kit and apply a very thin layer, the thinner the better!
- Use a Q-Tip to quickly remove any gel that may have transferred onto your skin
- Place your fingers under your UV light for 45 seconds, or for as long as your chosen polish brand advises
Step 3 – The Color
- Paint on a thin (again, thin!) layer of your chosen color
- Pop your fingers under the UV lamp again, for the suggested length of time
- Repeat the process so you’ve got 2 layers of UV-set color
Step 4 – A Top Coat
- Paint on your top coat
- Set the top coat under the UV lamp for the suggested time
Step 5 – Remove the Sticky Layer
Use isopropyl alcohol (or the supplied cleanser in your kit) to remove the layer of tacky, sticky residue from the completed nail.
You’re all done! Rub your hands and cuticles with a generous layer of hand cream when you go to bed the night before your wedding day. You’ll wake up with freshly polished, soft and silky hands, ready to be adorned with your new ring and the hand of your official new partner in life!