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What's in an At-Home Gel Manicure Kit

Gel manicures have become very popular in the past few years. They’re dry as soon as you are finished, and they last two to three weeks. That’s majorly better compared to regular nail polish, but is gel the best long-lasting nail treatment out there? Today we will cover everything you need to know about applying gels at home, as well as other options to try. 

What Is A Gel Manicure

If you’ve been to the salon recently, you’ve probably seen people sitting with their hands under little blue lights. That’s a gel manicure. Gel manicures work by using a special polish that hardens when placed under a UV lamp between each coat. 

Gel polish is made up of acrylic monomers and oligomers that harden when they bond together under UV light. This high-tech polish looks like regular polish but is much more durable because of the curing process. 

You can apply a gel manicure to your natural nails or fake nails for long-lasting results. This makes them a great option for anyone who works with their hands a lot as they will last longer than traditional nail polish. 

Are Gel Manicures Safe?

During gel application, your hands are exposed to UV light for a couple of minutes with each manicure. Some studies show that UV light exposure may be harmful to your skin in the long run. So if you are worried about the possible harmful effects of UV lights, such as the increased risk of skin cancer or age spots, then a gel manicure may not be the best option for you. 

Another downside of gel manicures is the harsh removal process. This process can cause damage to your natural nails over time. If you want to use gel manicures, you may need to take breaks from time to time to preserve your nail’s health

The best way to prevent nail damage with a gel manicure is to never pick or peel at your manicure. Always take great care to remove your manicure correctly to keep your natural nails in tip-top shape. 

What Equipment Do You Need?

To try out gel manicures at home, you will need several things to get started. You will need a set of gel polishes, including a base and top coat, as well as your own UV light. Buying your own UV light can be a little bit pricey, so you may not want to invest in this whole setup unless you already know that you enjoy gel manicures. 

Can You Use Regular Nail Polish?

Nope. Only gel polish will cure under UV light. You will need gel polish to get that instant hardening effect from the light that makes it so well-loved. 

Can You Use Gel Polish Without The Light?

No. Gel polish will only harden with UV light. No matter how long you wait, gel polish will never dry on its own like regular polish. 

How To Apply Gel Polish At Home

Follow these steps for at-home gel application:

  1. File Your Nails- Move the file in one direction over the nail, starting at the edge and rounding towards the center. Do not file back and forth, as this creates rough edges. 
  2. Push Back Your Cuticles- Use a cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles.
  3. Buff Your Nails- Use a four-way buffer to gently smooth out ridges and remove oil buildup on the nail’s surface.
  4. Acetone- Apply acetone to each nail to remove all remaining oils. This will help your polish stay put for longer. 
  5. Base Coat- Apply a layer of base coat to each nail. Cure your base coat in the UV lamp for 30 seconds. 
  6. Gel Polish- Apply one coat of your gel polish. Cure each coat in the UV lamp. Repeat this until the color is nice and solid. This may take three to four layers for lighter colors. 
  7. Top Coat- Once you're satisfied with your color, apply a top coat to each of your nails and cure it in the UV lamp twice to seal it all in. 
  8. All Done- Once you have finished, your nails should be completely dry and ready to go!

Is A Gel Kit A Good At-Home Option?

Gel manicures are great. They last twice as long as regular manicures and are less prone to chipping, so if you’re looking for a more durable option, then they are a great pick. However, there are better options out there. 

The only downside to gels is that you need UV light to apply them. This means that if you want to start doing your own gel manicures at home, you will have to invest in a UV light—which can be pricey. This upfront cost, combined with UV lights’ potential negative effects, has us not entirely convinced that at-home gels are worth the trouble. 

But don’t worry! There is another option for long-lasting nails that is easier to apply, more durable, and affordable than an at-home gel kit. 

Dip Powder Kits

Dip powder manicures are the newest innovation to long-lasting at-home manicures. This excellent method lasts even longer than gel manicures. In fact, you can count on your dip powder manicure to stay chip-free for three to six weeks. This makes dip powder the longest-lasting nail polish out there.  

Dip powder manicures harden instantly, just like gel but without the use of UV lights. For an at-home dip mani, all you need is a Nailboo Dip Kit. These handy kits come with everything you need for a stunning at-home manicure—no equipment necessary. Application is so easy and quick you can do it in a matter of minutes. 

Here’s how it works: simply paint your nail with the special base coat and dip it into the colorful powder. Then add a second layer of color. Next, top off your manicure with the special liquid activator to instantly harden the manicure—it's like magic. Finally, seal in your fabulous color with a top coat layer, and voila! You’ve got a long-lasting mani in a matter of minutes. 

Dip powder manicures deliver high-quality results that will have you wondering why you ever put up with the time and expense of a nail salon. When it comes to at-home nail kits, dip kits are the easiest and most affordable way to get a long-lasting manicure. 

Comparing Gel And Dip Powder

If you compare gel and dip powder manicures side by side, you will see that dip powder manicures are the clear way to go. 

Set Up

Gel: To apply a gel manicure at home, you need a UV light. 

Dip powder: Dip manicures require no special equipment or harmful UV rays. 


Gel: To apply, you must cure the polish in between each layer. Overall, the entire application process takes 45 minutes to an hour. 

Dip powder: You can apply a dip manicure in a matter of minutes. Simply coat, dip, activate, and repeat. 


Gel: Gel manicures typically last two to three weeks. That’s twice as long as regular polish. 

Dip powder: Dip powder manicures last three to six weeks. That’s four times as long as regular polish. 


The removal process for both gel and dip powder manicures is pretty much the same. You simply buff the tops of your nails to remove the top layer of polish and then apply a cotton round soaked in acetone to the top of each nail. Allow this to soak in for 15-20 minutes. Once your soak is complete, gently remove any remaining residue with a cuticle pusher, then buff and moisturize your nails. 

Both types of manicures must be removed properly to avoid any nail damage. One plus side of the Nailboo Dip Kit is that it comes with handy removal clips. These clips are placed over your acetone pads during removal to secure them in place. These handy tools make removal mess-free and easy. 


Both types of manicures produce long-lasting results. However, dip manicures last a bit longer, are more affordable, and easier to apply. When it comes to getting a high-quality at-home manicure, you can’t beat the fantastic results of a dip manicure. 

Dip manicures can be applied to long nails, short nails, fake nails, and natural nails. No matter how crazy your schedule gets, there is always time for a quick dip manicure. You will get the instant boost of having a fresh set of nails without the time and expense of an at-home gel set up. 



Wrap Up

Gel manicures are great if you don’t mind spending the time or money to invest in a UV light. However, dip manicures have become our new favorite because they’re easy to apply, affordable, and produce stunning results. Trust us. Once you try a Nailboo dip kit, you’ll wonder why you ever settled for gel. 



Gel Manicure Guide — Is Gel Nail Polish Bad for Your Nails? | Allure

Acrylic nail curing UV lamps | JAAD

The Pros and Cons of Acrylic, Gel and PolyGel Nail Care | Oxbridge Academy

Tips for healthy nails | AAD

How to File Nails | Healthline

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