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Gelish Terrific Trio Gel Polish Essentials Kit

The Gelish Terrific Trio Gel Polish Essentials Kit ($31) was the one choice that seemed pretty clear from the start. This three-piece set comes with pH Bond (the quick-soaking stuff they put on your nail before any polish), Foundation (aka base coat), and Top It Off (aka top coat). Efficient, quality, and $10 per bottle.

Sick of Paying For Gel Manicures? I Got Everything I Needed For Less on Amazon

If you want something done well, do it yourself - and if you want to stop paying $35 every two weeks, buy some supplies and learn to do your own at-home gel manicure.

Regular manicures are very important to my overall self-care routine, but the price tag that comes along with shiny gel nails often isn't feasible, even for those with a bit of disposable income. Furthermore, with many salons closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, you might be looking to procure your own at-home system. A couple years ago, after paying $65 for a pedicure and a gel manicure, I hit a wall.

I logged on to Amazon and proceeded to spend two hours piecing together the perfect gel kit. I didn't want to completely overspend - after all, I'm trying to save money here - but I also wanted to buy nice materials that would give me the same quality as a salon manicure. Two hours later, I found the ideal combination. I bought a total of five products (which you can see ahead), but I also have an existing cabinet full of cotton balls and nail files. If you don't have the basics, you may need to invest slightly more money.

My first go-around was tense. Painting your nails is low-pressure when you can just wipe it off with some remover, but gel requires precision. If you mess up, the fix may require you to completely file off your polish and start from scratch. I'm not terrible with a polish brush, and I made it all the way to the topcoat layer until really screwing up. I'm a topcoat fanatic, so I heaped healthy dollops on my thumbs . . . then watched the viscous liquid slide down onto my skin and instantly harden under the UV lamp. I clipped off the excess and filed down the shellac, and my thumbs looked near-flawless. You can see the finished product above - not bad for my first try, hunched over my bathroom sink, eh?

Here's everything I bought for my at-home gel manicure kit, all of which I would recommend.

Related:

The Pros and Cons of a Dip Powder Manicure