Having gel nails done in the salon is one of my favourite activities, especially when I'm going to see an expert nail technician who can transform my nails within an hour. However, gel nails can be expensive if you're visiting a salon regularly, and as our pockets are pinched, it can be a luxury that not everyone can justify every couple of weeks.
However, there are now several gel nail kits out there for home use, which can help give you a glossy manicure at home. Personally, I don't think at-home gel kits can ever replace an experienced technician. Professional gel manicures can last for weeks on end, and its the salon-grade products and training that makes for a truly great manicure. I'm also pretty useless at nail art, so I love leaving that for my salon visits. That being said, if you do want to do your gel nails at home, then gel nails kits are the next best thing.
So I decided to rally the Who What Wear team to test the best gel nail kits on the market right now at varying prices to find out which ones are worth investing in. Ahead, you'll find our honest thoughts on four of the most popular gel nail kits around right now. We've only included our absolute favourites here, so you'll know that these ones really work.
The Best At-Home Gel Nail Kits
1. Le Mini Macaron Gel Kit
Who What Wear UK managing editor Poppy Nash put Le Mini Macaron's Gel Manicure Kit to the test. Read her honest thoughts below.
Let me start by saying that I am extremely low-maintenance when it comes to beauty, so much so that it could even be classed as laziness. But I do like to always look presentable, which means I am happy to invest in good-quality products and services (from my makeup and skincare to nail and hair appointments), ensuring there is as little upkeep and general doing on my end as possible. This means that I am also always interested in quick and easy ways to get my beauty fix, so when this little at-home gel kit came my way, I was very intrigued.
If I'm honest, I was sceptical about this compact and cute device when I first opened it, thinking it would be a complete faff to use and that I would give up and head to my normal nail salon the same day. However, the mini macron (so named because it looks like the French sweet treat) really impressed me. The Cassis kit, which is the perfect burgundy shade for autumn/winter, comes with everything you need for the perfect at-home manicure, including a nail file, cuticle stick, LED lamp, gel remover wraps and the polish. The lamp is powered with a USB cable, which makes it handy for travelling.
The whole process took me about an hour (I went pretty slowly as I don't have a very steady hand), and even though it isn't the neatest mani I've ever had, I was delighted with the end result. There's no top or base coat provided, but overall, this kit is an absolute winner in my eyes. Plus, it's really small, making it easy to store, too. My gels lasted for about a week before they started to chip. I've already ordered a few more shades. Consider me a convert!
2. Mylee The Full Works Complete Gel Polish Kit
Who What Wear beauty editor Eleanor Vousden road-tested the Mylee Full Works Complete Gel Polish Kit.
I was really excited to put this gel kit to the test, as many of my friends have sung its praises. It's the most expensive of the kits in this article at £130, but it includes everything you could need to get a great gel mani at home. It comes with a lamp (which is also available in white), prep and removal lotions, cuticle sticks and cuticle oil, a nail file, nail buffer, lint-free wipes, a base coat, topcoat and eight gel polishes. You can choose from two sets of colours with each kit: Spring/Summer, which has colourful brights, and Autumn/Winter, which has a mix of neutrals, muted hues and glitters, so I opted for this set.
The instructions highlight the importance of prep, so I tidied up my cuticles with the cuticle sticks first and swiped over the prep lotion before applying the base coat. The lamp has three curing times (15, 30 and 60 seconds), and I did two coats of my chosen colour, Solo Act, which is a cashmere grey, before finishing with the topcoat. Application is really important for the best results. If I rushed the application, it would peel off after a few days. So I recommend taking your time and being mindful of removing any excess polish from the cuticles before curing under the lamp. I found two thin coats worked best for this, and the whole process took me about an hour from start to finish.
After finishing wiping with the finishing lotion, I was amazed at how glossy my nails looked. I'm very heavy-handed, but these lasted for 10 days before they started to chip and peel. If you're less heavy-handed than I am, I reckon these could last for up to two weeks. The removal process was plain sailing with the removal solution too. I don't think any at-home gel kit can compare to the manicure that a professional nail tech can do, but this is the next best thing. Overall, I'm really pleased with this gel kit, and I'm definitely going to buy some more of the colours.
3. Manucurist Green Flash Gel Kit
Mind = Blown. @manucurist is the salon-grade French nail brand fashion people love! #manucurist #nailtutorial #gelnails #nailtech♬ original sound - Angelina
Who What Wear shopping editor Remy Farrell tried out the Manucurist Green Flash Kit.
I have been a gel-nail-polish devotee for about as long as I can remember, but I have always insisted on a salon manicure to be able to get the long-lasting (and neat) results that I want. It takes a lot to convince me that a home gel kit will beat salon quality, but when I heard about the Manucurist's Green Flash polish collection, I was instantly curious.
First, I love the idea of a non-toxic polish formulated with bio-sourced ingredients. Also, the most labour-intensive part of maintaining gel nails has to be the removal process, so any brand that promises to remove colour just like regular polish gets my full attention.
My first impressions are just how light and easy the kit is. There is no need for a thousand tools and heavy lights, just an easy lamp that clicks into place (also the perfect size for your desk if you need an emergency touch-up), polish, and a bottle of remover. The brush layers the gel polish on lightly, and the overall effect is a fine coat of heavily pigmented colour—no gloopy, thick nails here.
This may be the only gel polish I enjoyed taking off as much as applying it, as the sheer novelty of an acetone-free, no soaking process gets me so excited to experiment with colour that I might work my way through the whole collection. While it didn't beat my record (my longest-lasting gel manicure was around five weeks), it did last far longer than the "chips in two days" home manicure that I'd attempted in the past. For me, it's clear, the Green Flash revolution is the future.
4. Bluesky Gel Nail Starter Kit
Who What Wear social media Editor Joy Ejaria put Bluesky's Starter Kit to the test.
I'm a nail biter, so going to the salon for a manicure always seems a little redundant, especially when I'm not opting for extensions during the visit. This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and by that, I mean visit my friend fortnightly for an at-home nail experience. Her set-up is amazing, and since it's just her hobby, she doesn't charge me. Sadly for me, she's moving to Paris, so I'm having to take full responsibility of my talons. I dreaded the thought of it for a while, but the arrival of Bluesky's Starter Kit has given me the confidence I needed to carry on doing my nails at home.
The kit comes with everything you'd need for an at-home mani/pedi. This includes 24W LED/UV Nail Lamp, nail filer and buffers, base/topcoat and three colours to choose from. A nice surprise in the kit was the cleanser wipes, which come in handy if you're not to good at colouring within the lines.
I'd give this kit a 3.5 of 5 for two reasons. The gel polish colours that come with the kit are a little out-there for me personally. They are nice to have if you've already built a collection of neutral colours but a little too much for a beginner who much prefers muted tones like me. Unfortunately, the kit lost another point from me because within days of use, the polish always peels.
Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor of Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.
Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards and also contributed to Powder, winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards for her work in beauty journalism.
Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.
When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner.
Hear Me Out: These Press-On Nails Are So Good, I Quit Gels
By Eleanor Vousden
I’m Bored of White French Tips, so I’m Asking for This Trending Style Next
Perfect for spring is an understatement.
By Grace Lindsay
11 Spring Nail Trends That Always Look So Chic
We'll be re-creating these ASAP.
By Maya Thomas
If You Think Valentine's Day Nail Designs Are Too Obvious, You'll Love These 15
They're subtle and sophisticated.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
Experts Agree: These 8 New Beauty Trends Are Already Taking Over 2024
Your new GRWM manifesto.
By Morgan Fargo
I Thought This Nail Trend Was Over—These Timeless Designs Just Convinced Me Otherwise
I'm booking an appointment, stat.
By Mica Ricketts
11 Anti-Trend and Expensive Nail Colours That Will Never Go Out of Style
Must-haves for your at-home mani.
By Grace Day
I’m a Pro at Spotting Nail Trends—This Spring-Ready Colour Is About to Take Over
The new soft hue to ask for.
By Grace Lindsay