Best gel-coat manicure set

Nail Color & Care

For a smooth, salon-quality gel-coat manicure, learn to buff and shape your nails properly. It seems like a small detail, but it dramatically improves application and boosts wear time.

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Which gel-coat manicure set is best?

Gel-coat manicure sets are affordable alternatives to biweekly nail salon visits. If you’re just getting started, you need a full-fledged kit with manicure tools, gel color and a lamp. Once you have an established setup, the fun begins with collecting gel color sets.

Our favorite kit, AZURE Beauty’s Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit has an 84-watt UV/LED lamp, features four timer settings and won’t darken gel color as it cures.

What to know before you buy a gel coat manicure set

Types

Polish only: Basic gel coat manicure sets come with the polish only. The average set includes up to a dozen colors. They include a broad assortment of colors or stick to a color group with a collection of similar shades. Larger sets can have as many as 40 colors, although they’re usually mini-bottles as opposed to full-size ones.

Polish and lamp: If you’re trying out gel coat manicures for the first time, polish and lamp combo sets are a solid choice. They usually include top and base coats and a limited selection of gel colors. Since they don’t include manicure tools, they’re affordable options.

Deluxe kits: Deluxe kits come with every accessory and product needed for a full gel-coat manicure: polish, lamp, top and base coats and manicure tools. Some sets even come with USB outlets for travel use.

Starter sets for novice nail artists are actually rather affordable, although the quality of their tools and lamp tend to be on the lower side. Premium kits have salon-quality tools and lamps, which is why they cost significantly more.

What to look for in a quality gel coat manicure set

Colors

Gel coat polish is available in a wide variety of colors. Solid colors are the most popular, and others come in glitter, iridescent, crackle or color-changing finishes. Most gel-coat polish sets come with at least one neutral or traditional color, even if the rest are neon, pastel or dark.

Formula

The long-wear quality of gel-coat color comes from the unique formula. Polish is made with polymers that harden and set when exposed to UV or LED light. Some polish is still made with butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), a carcinogen, so it’s recommended to look for non-BHA formulas.

Curing lamp

Curing lamps are essential to set gel coat polish, as they contain UV or LED lights that activate the formula. LED lights are preferred because they limit radiation exposure and offer a faster curing time. In fact, LED lights can cure gel coat polish in a minute, whereas UV lights take as long as 10 minutes.

How much you can expect to spend on a gel coat manicure set

Bottle-only gel-coat manicure sets cost $30 or less. Spend closer to $75 to get a deluxe set with manicure tools, polish and a modest lamp. Salon-quality sets cost between $100-$300 and tend to include top-notch lamps and professional-grade manicure tools.

Gel-coat manicure set FAQ

How long will it take to do a gel-coat manicure?

A. If you’re including the time to file and shape your nails, probably around 40 minutes. This gives ample time to properly manicure your nails before applying polish. The polish application doesn’t take more than a couple minutes per layer. If your hand is slightly unsteady, you may take longer for an even application.

Is it worth getting a gel coat manicure set if you still go to the nail salon occasionally?

A. Yes, especially since you’re able to do your own touch-ups between appointments. Many consumers prefer using gel-coat manicure sets at home for their hands, but continue going to the nail salon for pedicures.

What’s the best gel-coat manicure set to buy?

Top gel-coat manicure set

AZURE Beauty’s Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

AZURE Beauty’s Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

What you need to know: This all-in-one starter kit with nine essential tools, a powerful lamp and six gel colors.

What you’ll love: Gel colors last for more than 21 days. The LED lamp has four timer settings. The low-odor formula is great for sensitive users.

What you should consider: The dip powder containers are really small, good for maybe one use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top gel-coat manicure set for the money

Sexy Mix’s Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

Sexy Mix’s Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

What you need to know: This well-rounded affordable kit with four colors comes with a mini USB UV/LED lamp.

What you’ll love: Nice solid and glitter colors last for more than two weeks. It has quality metal manicure tools.

What you should consider: The UV lamp is small, so it requires two rounds for each hand.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Modelones’ Gel Nail Polish Set

Modelones’ Gel Nail Polish Set

What you need to know: The attractive shade collection of 16 mini bottles includes top and base coats.

What you’ll love: Bottle colors match the shades and are full-size. Classy packaging has an upscale look.

What you should consider: You might only get a couple applications from each mini bottle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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