At-home nail kits

The best at-home nail kits for DIY gel manicures

23 Apr 2024 | |By Hitanshi Kamdar

Swap out clunky press-ons for salon-quality manicures

All products are chosen independently by our editors. Luxury London may earn commission on items purchased.

Few things compare to the joy of getting a fresh set of gel nails. Whether you go for a subtle monochrome look, extravagant extensions, or a classic French tip, well-manicured nails can make you feel instantly put-together. And, while a morning spent in a nail bar makes for a lush pampering session, for the time-poor, luxury at-home nail kits can work wonders.

If, like me, you’ve been veering away from DIY gel manicures out of fear of smudged nails and shoddy cuticles, your fears are misplaced. You’ve been missing out on a host of brilliant at-home nail kits that are easy to master. Complete with detailed instruction manuals and fool-proof tools, you can primp up those tips in no time at all.

How to use gel nail kits at home

While not all nail kits are identical, most follow an application process similar to salon manicures. Start prepping your hands by applying sunscreen to protect the skin from the effects of the UV/LED lamp used for curing the gel polish. Then use acetone or nail polish remover to clean the nail surface before filing to your desired shape, pushing your cuticles back and buffing away the shine. Follow this with a thin layer of base coat, two to three coats of colour and a thin top coat, curing for 30 to 60 seconds between each coat. Finish with a lint-free alcohol wipe, cuticle oil, and hand cream for a professional look.

Whether you’re looking to add length, brave intricate nail art, or add a sorbet hue to your nails in time for summer, we’ve rounded up the best at-home nail kits to invest in for perfect DIY gel manicures.

Best overall: 14 Day Mani signature gel nail starter kit

Ideal for novices, 14 Day Mani’s simple step-by-step starter kit is as easy as they come. The kit includes all the required nail prep tools in addition to a 54W LED/UV lamp which cures each layer in 30 seconds, meaning minimal UV exposure. The best part? You can pick your favourite four from a range of 100 shades, which means you can get the colours you use most, even if that includes an alternative shade like black. My only complaint would be that the lamp comes with a short wire and the manicure starts chipping at around the 10-day mark.

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Best for salon-quality extensions: Mylee Go Long! Kit

Mylee’s gel polishes have been favoured by manicurists for some time now, so it’s only natural that its at-home kits are among the most reliable. While the brand has numerous options to choose from, its Go Long! nail extension kit stands out. It comes with reusable nail forms, poly nail gels and an LED curing lamp, in addition to the usual base coat, gel polish colours, top coat, and nail prep tools. I found the poly gel easy to manipulate into my desired shape and length while the manicure lasted two weeks without any chips and was quick and efficient to remove at home, unlike salon acrylics.

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Best vegan nail kit: Manicurist green flash kit

One for eco-conscious beauty enthusiasts, French brand Manicurist’s products are bio-sourced and eco-friendly. This Green Flash starter nail kit comes with a classic shade of your choice, a 24W LED lamp, a base coat to help protect the nails, and a top coat for shine. The pros? The shades are versatile and the formula can be removed like normal polish without damage to your nails. The cons? The manicure starts chipping after a week and the two-minute curing time between each coat means prolonged exposure to the lamp.

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Best compact option: Le Mini Macaron gel manicure kit

If your vanity is already too cluttered, opt for Le Mini Macaron’s compact nail kit. This gel manicure kit comes with a multitasking formula that combines base coat, colour, and top coat in one bottle, a mini nail file, cuticle stick, remover pads, and a tiny circular LED lamp with a USB cord. The only downside? You can only cure one nail at a time, meaning your manicure will take longer.

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Best powder dip manicure: Glamrdip Salon perfect kit

While gel manicures are great for glossy, lasting results, if you wish to avoid the UV/LED lamp hassle, Glamrdip is a good alternative. The British brand offers coloured dip powders that harden on your nail without curing. The powder formulas come in a range of shades, from neutral pink and beige to deeper red and mauve, and are hypoallergenic, vegan and cruelty-free. While the dip and dry process can take a while to master, if you’re looking for a salon finish while protecting your nail health, Glamrdip deserves our attention.

From £64
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Best stick-on gel manicure: Glaize

We get it, sometimes you don’t even have enough time to apply regular nail polish, let alone a gel manicure. Perfect for giving your nails a makeover in a pinch, Glaize’s stick-on gel manicures not only come in a variety of shades and patterns, but they’re also made-to-measure so they’ll fit your nails perfectly and look as polished as a professional manicure. Simply upload a picture of your hands, select your desired colour, and stick them in your makeup drawer for emergencies.

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