Get A Salon-Quality Manicure At Home With These User-Friendly Gel Polishes From Amazon


Once upon a time (about two months ago), I believed that gel manicures were the exclusive jurisdiction of professional nail technicians. Some poking around on Amazon later, I was proven wrong: Everyone can do a gel manicure at home! The best gel nail polishes will give you salon-quality results at home — all for less time and cash than you’d need for a professional gel manicure — and they should last at least two weeks without chipping. All you need is a UV or LED lamp (not as scary as it sounds).

That said, you’ll get the best results from your at-home gel manicure if you follow a professional protocol. “Always prep the nail first,” Hannah Lee, Sally Hansen Brand Ambassador, tells Bustle. “Shape, lightly buff, and push the cuticles back. Also, make sure to remove any excess oil and debris from the nail using a cotton ball and polish remover. This will make sure you get the best hold on your nail.” Lee also suggests painting each coat in a thin layer, which ensures a longer-lasting manicure, and capping the edge of your nail to prevent chipping.

Equally important as gel polish application is proper gel polish removal. For that, Lee recommends soaking your nails in cuticle oil first, then placing an acetone-soaked cotton ball onto each nail, wrapping them in aluminum foil, and waiting 15 minutes. If the polish is peeling, you’re good to go; otherwise, wait another five minutes and check again. To mitigate damage, Lee says, “[You] don't want to peel the gel off since it can remove part of your nail with it. It's important to wait until the polish is flaking off well.” She also recommends rehydrating your nails (with a cuticle oil or nail cream) after gently pushing the gel off, “since the acetone is super drying.”

But if you’re not sold on the idea of a DIY gel manicure, you can opt for a gel-inspired nail polish, instead. You’ll get the cushiony, chip-resistant effects of a true gel polish, but you don’t need a UV light to cure them. They remove like normal polishes, too, so no need to do the whole soaking-and-scraping thing.

Either way, I’ve got you covered. Ahead, find three of the best gel nail polishes you can get on Amazon, plus two gel-effect options. There’s also a non-intimidating UV lamp so you can get salon results at home — no nail tech training required.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.


The Best Neutrals

According to thousands of enthusiastic Amazon reviewers and their flawless manicure selfies (selficures?), these Gellen nail polish sets deliver truly salon-caliber results that remain opaque and chip-free for weeks. (Some professional nail techs favor this brand, as well.) Considering the quality here, its $23 price point is pretty incredible — that’s about $10 less than a salon gel manicure. The bottles are about half the size of a standard polish bottle, but considering their longevity, you’re still getting your run for the money. You can choose among eight sets of six polishes, where you’ll find everything from the rosy neutrals pictured above, to matte pastels and dark glitters.

Glowing review: “Application was super easy and I only needed 2 coats. This was my first time doing a DIY gel manicure and it has lasted exactly a week so far with zero chips!! Still super shiny as if I did my manicure yesterday... this includes taking care of 3 children, giving baths, showering, washing dishes, laundry, etc.”


The Best Pinks

Another best-seller on Amazon, Elite99's nail polish sets are especially beloved for their smooth application, quick curing time, and vivid color ranges, like the candy-colored purples and pinks found in the set pictured here. Similarly to the Gellen sets, reviewers confirm salon-worthy results that stay on for about two to three weeks. But the price point here is even better than the Gellen sets: This set of six, full-sized bottles goes for just $16 on Amazon.

Glowing review: “Elite99 is by far the best gel polish I have ever used. It's the perfect consistency and goes on smoothly, providing great coverage. It's easy to use and doesn't 'glob up' like other gel polishes I've used. When I wiped with alcohol after applying the top coat, no color came off on the cotton, so it cures well too.”


The Best Brights

The candy-bright shades in this Beetles Gel Polish Kit in Macaroon are the stuff of my Lisa Frank-obsessed youth, and reviewers confirm that the pigments are every bit as vivid in reality as they are in pictures. The polishes will retain their hard, glossy finish for about two weeks. Heads up: At 5 milliliters (about 10 milliliters less than a standard nail polish bottle), these bottles are very mini. But with that in mind, you’re getting 12 of them for less than the cost of a single salon gel manicure.

Glowing review: "These gels are so much stronger then most other gels out there. The colors are so vibrant and bold! You only need 2 coats rather then 4 or 5 like some brands require to achieve expected color."


The Best Gel-Effect Polish Set

If you don’t have a UV or LED lamp, go for a gel-inspired polish, like this one from Sally Hansen — it dries like a normal polish, though it’ll cure faster when it’s exposed to sunlight. Along with Get Mod, an opaque, creamy white polish, this $28 bundle comes with both a matte and a glossy top coat for a “choose your own finish” adventure. Note that you don’t need to use a base coat with this polish.

Glowing review: “These are amazing! The colors are gorgeous and I get full payout in two easy to apply coats. The wide curved brush is as close to one stroke as I've ever used, and makes the application smooth and buttery. The top coat is plush, it's shiny, feels thick once it dries and also is user-friendly for a fast finish.”


The Best Gel-Effect Individual Polish

These CND Vinylux Weekly Nail Polishes give you similar results to a salon CND gel manicure, for almost a third of the price. There’s a huge shade range available on Amazon, from honeyed gold to suede brown to Red Baroness, the iridescent berry red pictured here. Top it off with the brand's Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat, which bonds to the polish to protect the color from cracking, denting, and yellowing. The top coat is also formulated to become more durable over time, so your polish will stay fresh and even for up to a week of heavy wear — not as long as a true gel, but much longer than a typical polish. No need for a base coat here, either.

Glowing review: “So impressed with this nail polish! It stays nice long enough that you only have to change it when your nails start growing. I even dinged it in a few places and it doesn't chip; it almost heals itself. It's the best polish I've used. Great for working moms like me who wash our hands a lot!”


You'll Also Need: An At-Home UV Lamp

If you’re going the true gel polish route route, get this at-home nail lamp that uses both UV and LED lights to quickly cure any kind of gel polish or gel top coat. The plug-and-play model and one-button operation is super simple to set up and use, and its compact design makes it easy to stash away, even if you’re running dangerously low on storage space.

Glowing review: “BEST THING I'VE EVER PURCHASED... and I do a lot of online shopping. I used to work at a professional nail salon and this cheap lamp works just as well as the $500 ones I used at work. I have been using the lamp for two years now and it still works great!! I paint my nails with gel all the time and use this cute little gel lamp. It is small and easy to use!!”