The Best At-Home Nail Kits Because Doing Your Own Nails Is Real Money-Saving Hot Girl Shit

at home nail kit
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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do my own gel nails at home. I don’t really like going to the salon because I’m self-conscious about my hands, but I was always worried that I would do a terrible job myself. I recently got my mitts on an at-home nail kit and have been pleasantly surprised at the results.

Not only am I saving money by doing my gel nails at home, but also I get to have some time to myself and relax with my favourite K-Pop album playing in the background.

The best part is that I can do my nails exactly how I like them without being judged — yes, I am going to paint my nails nude for the eighth week in a row.

Whether you’re into SNS, gel, shellac or regular polish, there’s a world of at-home nail kits out there to check out. Here are some of our favourites.

What’s the difference between SNS, gel and regular polish?

If you’re just getting into manicures and getting your nails done, I’m sure you’ve wondered what the difference is between all the different types of products that you can use at home.

Regular polish — the kind you might have used as a child — is basically made to leave a thin film over your nails that dries over time. While regular polish has the easiest (and safest) removal methods, it doesn’t last very long — usually around five days — before you need to go back in with a fresh coat.

SNS stands for Signature Nail System and is essentially a dip powder that hardens on the nail between layers of glue. The removal process can potentially be damaging to nails because it requires an electronic file to remove all the layers of powder and glue. Taking care to not over-file the nails is important here. But, if you do it correctly, SNS can last for up to three weeks.

Gel polish is similar to regular polish in that you need to paint it on in layers. The major difference though is that you need to cure each layer under a UV light, which activates a polymer reaction and allows the gel to harden. Safe removal requires buffing and soaking in a high-strength acetone, which can dry out the skin, but is safe for nails as long as you avoid any electric filing.

Is it safe to do SNS or gel manicures at home?

Image: iStock/iprogressman

The short answer is ‘yes’, but there are some caveats.

We spoke with Dr. Leanne, a GP about whether or not it’s safe to do your gel manicure at home.

“Firstly, you want to be mindful of your level of confidence and skill. Although most of it is relatively safe and easy things can still go wrong. If you’re just starting out then use a simple nail buffer and regular nail polish.

For those feeling keen to level up and use other tools or gel curing machines, there’s a few things to consider here. The health and integrity of your nail and the skin around your nail (your cuticle) is paramount before you start.”

Firstly, you want to make sure that you have access to high-quality products. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. It’s also best to buy a whole kit from the same brand. And if you’re restocking products, make sure you go back to the same brand to ensure that all the products work well together.

Secondly, take your time with it and educate yourself. Before investing in a full SNS or gel nail kit, use regular polish on your nails and take time to learn the application techniques. Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need before starting as well, including small brushes to remove any polish that gets on your skin. If you don’t feel confident, then it’s best to avoid using SNS dipping or gel polishes altogether.

Finally, if you’re really devoted to the idea of being an at-home nail technician, look into doing a professional course. Especially if you’re planning on doing other people’s nails.

How to do SNS and gel manicures safely at home

SNS application is pretty straightforward. Apply SNS glue to the nail, then dip it into the powder. Repeat this step until you’ve achieved the thickness and colour opacity that you want. After this you’ll need to buff and file your nails to the desired shape and thickness before using a top coat.

As for gel, you’ll need file and buff your nails first, then use a UV LED curing lamp between coats of polish.

After both application methods, it’s always best to use cuticle oil when you’re finished, and use cuticle oil once a day thereafter.

When it comes to removal, Dr. Leanne recommends avoiding any harsh chemicals. “I love the Esmio non-toxic gel remover. It’s a great option for limiting the use of acetone and avoiding that dreaded soaking.”

The Best At-Home Nail Kits

Esmio Pro Starter Kit

This Esmio pro starter kit is a little exxy, but it comes with everything you need and then some. Including cuticle softener and a nail art mat so you can do your manicure at home without ruining your dining table.

Esmio One Step Gel Extensions Kit

At-Home Nail Kit

Long nail girlies rejoice! Not only does Esmio have a fab gel starter kit, but it also stocks this gel extensions kit if you prefer your talons long.

Opallac At-Home Gel Starter Kit

This Opallac kit comes with essentials you need to start your at-home nail journey. It includes a nail lamp, three gel colours, base and top coats, shine & soak removal solution and a nail buffer and file.

Jodsone Gel Polish Nail Kit

At-Home Nail Kit

This all-inclusive at-home nail kit will give you everything you need to create the perfect gel manicure. This particular set includes 32 colours of nail gel, base coat, top coat, matte top coat, a nail lamp, and all the tools and brushes you need to get started.

Modelones Dip Powder Nail Kit Starter Set

It takes a little while to get used to, but if you have the patience and the will, you can master the dip powder in no time. This set comes with some of the more neutral tones plus is odour free, resistant to chipping and cracking, durable, and waterproof. Oh, and there’s a handy instruction guide, too, making it an easy to use at-home nail kit.

The Best At-Home Nail Accessories

OPI ProSpa Nail & Cuticle Oil To Go

At-Home Nail Kit

Taking care of your cuticles is just as important as looking after your nails. Not only does it keep your nails strong and healthy, but keeps your mani looking good, too.

This OPI cuticle oil is fast absorbing, meaning you won’t get it on everything you touch after using it.

Esmio Builder Gel XL

If you’re looking to add a stronger layer to your nail base, this Esmio builder gel is a lifesaver. It’s thick and tacky to help create an extra layer for your gel to sit on.

It can also be used to help strengthen the natural nail.

Opallac 5-in-1 Cordless Electric Nail File

At-Home Nail Kit

If you want to take your manicuring skills to the next level, an electric nail file will be your best friend. This one comes with five different filing attachments from coarse to fine.

Jodsone UV LED Nail Lamp

While you can’t go wrong with most UV LED nail lamps, this one from Jodsone has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon.

At-Home Nail Kit

Gel Nail Polish Remover Kit

At-Home Nail Kit

Let’s all pretend for a moment that we don’t pick our gel off once we’re through with it. Besides getting dirty looks from the nail technician in a salon, it’s also horrendously bad for your nails. So, when you’re creating a manicure masterpiece on your own, invest in these little beauties. Just wrap a cotton bud with acetone in aluminium foil and put it under these caps, and voila! polish be gone!

Image credit: Esmio