We Tried 9 At-Home Gel Manicure Kits — These 6 Deliver Salon-Quality Results

The Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit is our favorite.

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Have you ever treated yourself to a manicure only for your nails to chip on the way home from the salon? If you've experienced this, it can feel like a big waste of both time and money. That's why gel manicures are increasingly popular: Gel polish leaves behind a super glossy finish that stays intact for weeks — even after washing your hands or doing the dishes. Whether you're committed to DIY-ing your nails, or are trying to cut back on salon visits, achieving a salon-quality gel manicure is possible at home, all thanks to at-home gel nail kits.

We set out to find the best at-home gel manicure kits of 2022. To do so, we rounded up a handful of testers to research the most popular kits and try them out in our testing lab to determine which ones are worth the splurge. After thorough testing — taking into account ease of use and removal, drying time, quality, and post-mani nail health — we picked the best performing kits. Ultimately, the Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit impressed us most due to its salon-quality results and top scores in the aforementioned categories.

Find the best at-home gel nail kits, according to InStyle testers, below.

The Winners

Best Overall: Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit

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Also available at Morovan and Walmart

What We Love: It comes with eight polish colors and cute embellishments.

What We Don't Love: The options can be overwhelming for a first-timer.

For someone looking to dip their toes (and fingers) into doing their own gel manicures, this kit is an excellent place to start. The comprehensive set is equipped with all of the essentials you need to prep your nails and craft unique designs from the comfort of your home. With six bottles of regular gel polish and two bottles of temperature-changing ombre polish, you'll never get bored with your nails.

As if the eight polish colors weren't enough, the kit also comes with a selection of embellishments — like flower decals, holographic sequins, and a variety of rhinestones — to seriously upgrade your mani. The kit also includes an acid-free primer, a dehydrator (which prepares nails for gel), a base coat, a top coat, and eight manicure tools (think: nail clipper, buffer, cuticle pusher, and more).

If you've ever gotten a gel manicure, then you know that the gel polish needs to cure (aka set) underneath a UV light in order to harden. This kit comes with a professional-grade, 48-watt LED light that offers three timer settings at 5-, 30- and 60-seconds. The heat setting is automated at low, so you can't change it, but, fear not: The tester shares that the light emits moderate warmth, rather than piping hot light.

It's pretty incredible that the kit contains everything you could ever need to do a gel manicure, but with that said, it can be overwhelming for a first-timer. Thankfully, it comes with an easy-to-follow guide and has a pretty wide margin for error. The tester notes that, "Regardless of the mistakes I made, the gel came out pretty good."

LED Light: Yes | Nail polish included: 8 | Features: Decals, sequins and rhinestones

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Best Value: Gellen Gel Nail Polish Kit

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Also available at Gellen Nails

What We Love: For $40, you get everything you need to create a gel manicure at home.

What We Don't Love: There are no removal accessories included.

The comment section of this Amazon-favorite gel nail kit is filled with thousands of positive reviews, and according to our tester, it's for good reason. At an affordable price point, you get a powerful 72-watt LED curing light, a removable tray that allows you to do your toes with ease, manicure tools, design accessories, and 12 different polish colors.

The tester shares that she was pleased with the long term results. "The finish is extremely shiny and the color comes out beautifully," she says. Plus, even after a few weeks of wear, the gel polish didn't damage her natural nails.

One thing this kit doesn't include: Removal accessories. Thankfully, removal supplies aren't hard to come by — in fact, a trip to the drugstore should do the trick. Sally Hansen Global Ambassador and nail pro Madeline Poole previously told InStyle, "You only need pure acetone to effectively and quickly break down the gel polish."

LED Light: Yes | Nail polish included: 12 | Features: Powerful curing light

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Best for Beginners: Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit

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Also available at Amazon, Sally Hansen, and Walgreens

What We Love: There are only three steps, making it ideal for beginners.

What We Don't Love: There's only one shade of polish included.

A household name, Sally Hansen is a trusted source when it comes to all things nails, so it's no wonder that the brand's at-home gel nail kit is ideal for someone trying to learn the basics. "This kit is perfect for beginners because it involves only three steps and is so simple to follow," our tester shares.

The kit contains an LED lamp, one polish color, both top and base coats, and nail care essentials like a file and buffer to help shape nails. What makes this kit unique is how fast it works. "The drying time was very quick and it wasn't sticky after the suggested curing time [of 30 seconds]," the tester adds. "It dried hard, smooth and streak-free." Plus, according to the brand, the kit lasts for up to 10 gel manicures, which is a pretty good value for $60 total (and significantly cheaper than visiting the salon where gel manicures can cost upwards of $40 each.)

That said, this kit covers the basics and nothing more. While a minimalist might love the fact that there's only one shade, the tester notes that she wishes there were more colors available with the kit. However, you can shop all 21 of the gel polish shades, which are sold separately, at Sally Hansen. After all, variety is key when it comes to nail polish.

LED Light: Yes | Nail Polish Included: 1 | Features: Nail care accessories, LED lamp

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Best Polish: Essie Gel Couture Longwear

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Also available at Essie, Ulta, and Target

What We Love: You don't need to use an LED curing light.

What We Don't Love: The final result isn't as hard as a typical gel manicure.

If you're hesitant to use an LED light, skip the curing step and try this swipe-and-go option. The application is the same as a traditional nail polish: All you have to do is paint on two coats of an Essie gel shade (there are plenty to choose from) and top it with the gel topcoat. Because there are only two pieces in this set, it's a great option if you want to avoid cluttering your beauty space.

Aside from being a quick and convenient way to get a gel mani at home, the results speak for themselves. "My nails look like they got professionally done," our tester says. "Even after 2+ weeks, there is very minimal chipping."

The praise for this kit doesn't stop at the simple application and longevity either. The removal process also couldn't be easier. The polish comes off with regular acetone polish remover you can find at the drugstore. The tester says, "I loved that I didn't need to go to a manicurist for removal and that taking off the gel took the same amount of time as regular polish." Some gel polish has the tendency to make nails weaker, but after removal the tester mentioned that her nails were still in tip-top shape.

It's worth noting that because there's no curing process involved, the final result isn't as hard as a typical gel manicure. The reviewer didn't seem to mind, though, given that the polish stayed intact without it.

LED Light: No | Nail Polish Included: 1 | Features: Top coat included

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Best for Damaged Nails: Zoya Gelie-Cure Foundation Pro Kit Travel LED Light

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Also available at Walmart

What We Love: The brand's patented nail-strengthening serum and base coat repairs nails during wear.

What We Don't Love: Because of the many layers, it takes a while for nails to dry.

If you suffer from brittle, cracked nails, try this kit that helps restore them during wear. The tester shares that after removing the polish, her nails were "totally healthy and moisturized."

Each kit comes with everything you need for a damage-free, clear gel manicure, including the brand's patented nail rescue serum and reparative base coat, clear gel polish (a plethora of color options is sold separately), clear shine polish, polish remover, a nail file, a cuticle pusher, soak-off nail foils, cotton balls, and a travel-size LED light. Best of all, the kit doesn't skimp on quality. "The base polish dries quickly and the clear gel easily spreads across each nail," the tester says. "Plus, the light is easy to set up — just be aware that you need your own charging block."

As with all things, there is one downside — it takes a while for the gel to harden. "The multiple layers of polish make the manicure feel wet and tacky even after drying under the LED light for the recommended 60 seconds," the tester admits. "I had to do multiple rounds under the curing light to get my nails to harden."

LED Light: Yes | Nail Polish Included: 0 | Features: Nail-strengthening serum and base coat

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Best Portable: Le Mini Macaron Le Maxi Deluxe Gel Manicure Set

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Also available at Le Mini Macaron

What We Love: This kit is great for a gel mani and pedi when you're short on time and space.

What We Don't Love: Only one nail can be cured at a time.

From the adorable heart-shaped packaging to the easy-to-follow instruction manual, this kit makes doing a mani on the go enjoyable and fun. Even our tester, a self-proclaimed manicure amateur, says the kit is like a party in a box.

It's not only nice to look at — the entire process is a breeze, too. Our tester notes that she was shocked at how fast the LED light cures each nail. "My nails look fantastic even though my hands are far from steady," she shares. "The quality of the gel and the curing process covered my many mistakes and the cuticle tool was great at removing polish from my skin."

Because of the kit's miniature size, you can only cure one nail at a time. Despite the process taking a little longer to ensure each nail gets enough curing time, the finished product makes the entire process worth it.

LED Light: Yes | Nail Polish Included: 1 | Features: Compact lamp, USB cord

best at home gel kits
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Our Testing Process

To kick things off, we spent about a week researching the top-rated at-home gel nail kits on the market. After honing in on online ratings, we spent a total of 54 hours putting the 9 most popular kits to the test in our lab and at-home. We had each of our testers try the kits so that they could analyze the performance of each one and write down their insights in the process. In doing so, our testers rated each at-home kit on a scale of 1 to 5 for six key categories: ease of use, drying time, overall look, quality, ease of removal, and nail integrity post-removal. After initial application, our testers wore their gel manicures for two weeks to evaluate the long wear claims, then removed to review that process as well. Once all the data was collected, we were able to narrow down the original pool of products to the top six at-home gel nail kits of 2022.

What to Keep in Mind

Curing Lamp

When it comes to gel manicures, an LED curing lamp is key. There's essentially no other way to harden the gel which gives the manicure its signature rock-solid finish. With that said, check whether or not the kit you're eyeing requires a lamp. If it does, opt for a kit that contains one, otherwise you'll need to purchase one separately. Julie Kandalec, a professional nail artist who has worked with celebs like Sydney Sweeney, Mariah Carey, and Jessica Chastain, tells InStyle that every product and manufacturer line has its own base coat, top coat gel colors, and lamps, so you should only go with the lamp that the manufacturer recommends. "You shouldn't mix products or lamps because some of them have a higher or lower output which can cause under- or over-curing of the gel," she explains.

Type of Use

If you're looking for an option to tide you over in between nail appointments, it might not be worth splurging on a full kit, and instead, may want to opt for a gel polish, like Essie. On the other hand, if you're committed to DIY-ing your nails and cutting back on salon visits, investing in a quality kit is essential. Part of the latter category? Make sure the kit you're considering offers a professional-grade curing lamp and a variety of polish colors.

Color Options

Lastly, check out each kit's polish color offerings. Some options only come with one or two shades, while others come with an entire collection. With that in mind, make sure the colors are ones you'll actually wear so that you get your money's worth.

Your Questions, Answered

How do gel and traditional manicures differ?

According to Steph Stone, a professional nail artist who has painted the fingertips of celebs like Lili Reinhart, Camila Cabello, and Hunter Shafer, regular nail polish is painted and air dried, while gel polish needs to be "cured" with a UV or LED light. Gel manicures also grow out or need to be fully removed, whereas a regular manicure can chip and wear off with use.

How long do gel manicures last?

When prepped and applied properly, gel manis can last up to a month, or until your nails are grown out. "The longevity of a gel mani can also depend on how active you are with your hands and how well you take care of them," Stone says. When it comes to nail care, Kandalec recommends using cuticle oils and hand lotion to maintain the integrity of your manicure at home.

Can gel manicures be bad for your nails?

"Damage from nail enhancements comes from improper prep, application, and/or improper removal — not the product itself," says Kandalec. "One way to prevent damage is to visit a reputable salon that doesn't rush the removal process." Gel needs to soak for at least 20 minutes and should never be peeled or picked off, she adds. To remove gel polish at home, Poole explained to InStyle that you should start by buffing the top layer of your mani with a coarse nail file. Then, soak cotton balls in acetone, secure them to each nail with aluminum foil and wait 10 to 15 minutes. "The gel manicure should slide off with the cotton ball when you remove the foil, but if some residue remains stuck on your nail, use an orangewood stick to work it off," she said.

Are gel manicure curing lamps bad for you?

While lamps do produce UV light, the FDA views nail lamps as low risk when used as directed by the label. "If you are still concerned and want to take extra precaution, you can put sunscreen on your hands prior to your appointment or wear gloves with the tips cut off during your manicure," Stone says.

What Is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it's really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle Picks are products we love, and we've put them to the test to be sure you will too.

Want more product recommendations? From best-in-class concealer to the black pants you need for work, check out all of our InStyle Picks content.

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