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Best Gel Nail Kits of 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

Sometimes, you just don’t have time to head to your favorite nail salon, and instead, need to do your own nails at home — but still want that manicure to last. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to upgrade your nail polish to the gel varieties that often offer up to a two-week chip-free manicure. 

But before you run to the nearest beauty retailer or drugstore, you might check out our guide that not only highlights some of the best gel nail kits but also clarifies what you need to know before spending your money.

Best gel nail kits overview

How we chose the best gel nail kits

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, such as shades included, dry time, gel lamp, extra features, and more, to create a short list of the top gel nail kits. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best gel nail kit for each category.

Our picks for the best gel nail kits

Best overall
Modelones Macaron Pastel – 18 Pcs Gel Polish Kit

What we love

  • Complete kit with all tools needed
  • Includes 6 gel colors, plus a base and 2 top coats
  • 30-second curing per coat

What we don’t love

  • Somewhat pricey

One pain point with most gel kits is that they offer a limited number of shades, and you’re lucky if they include a top coat — let alone a UV light. Modelones’ Macaron Pastel polish kit comes with 18 total pieces, giving you everything you need to create the salon experience right at home. 

This includes six colors, a regular and matte top coat, and a base coat. You also get the UV light with three time settings, as well as a selection of manicure tools and cuticle oil. The polishes are made free of 11 toxins and are cruelty free and vegan. Each coat can cure in roughly 30 seconds.

Shades included: 6 | Dry time: 30 seconds | Gel lamp: Yes | Extra features: Top and base coats, manicure tools

Best budget
KISS Gel Fantasy Ready-To-Wear Gel Nails

What we love

  • No drying required
  • Fast application process
  • Multiple designs available

What we don’t love

  • Requires slight application learning curve

Just like in the salon, buying gel polish for an at-home manicure can be expensive. But just because you’re working with a budget doesn’t mean you have to go without gels.

KISS, the fan-favorite drugstore brand that covers a wide range of makeup and beauty products, has also entered the gel manicure niche — but in a unique way. Note that while we’re only showing the style “Midnight Sky,” KISS offers a wide variety of colors and designs for the gel press-on category. 

Whether you’re in a hurry or trying to be fab on a budget, the brand’s press-on gel nails are a great workaround for people who want up to seven days of a smudge-proof, waterproof manicure look — minus the annoying application process. These press-on nails can be applied using either glue or the included mega-adhesive tabs.

Shades included: 2 | Dry time: N/A | Gel lamp: No | Extra features: Press-on, instant manicure

Best strips
Ohora N Newtro No.1

What we love

  • Travel-friendly
  • Easy application process
  • Wide array of designs

What we don’t love

  • UV light not included

At-home gel manicures have their benefits when compared to the salon, but the constant curing between coats can get tedious. So, if you want two weeks of chip-free wear, minus the added drain of curing, you’ll like Ohora’s nail strips. What sets this brand apart is the wide range of solid colors, intricate designs, and cute styles to choose from. 

This K-beauty brand is a great workaround for recreating that gel look. These nail strips are composed of a base coat, gel polish, and top coat. You apply them as you would with normal nail strips, but they need to be cured with a UV light to give you that true gel hardness. You won’t achieve the two-week benchmark without curing the strips. 

Each kit comes with 30 nail strips, two prep pads, a nail file, and one wooden stick to prep your cuticles. While the UV light isn’t included, you can purchase the compact travel-friendly tent version from the brand separately if you don’t have your own.

Shades included: 1 | Dry time: N/A | Gel lamp: No | Extra features: Nail strips, multiple designs

Best travel
Le Mini Macaron Lilac Blossom – Gel Manicure Kit

What we love

  • Complete kit with lamp and nail tools
  • All-in-1 gel polish
  • Lamp can also be used for pedicures

What we don’t love

  • Lamp only cures 1 nail at a time

Anyone who’s performed an at-home gel manicure knows that traditional UV lights are clunky. So if you bring your polish with you when you travel, the standard curing lights aren’t always practical. 

Thankfully, Le Mini Macron has you covered with an adorably petite USB-powered macron-styled UV lamp. This gel manicure kit comes in a wide range of color options, but we’re just highlighting the “Lilac Blossom,” a soft lavender hue. Aside from the lamp, the kit comes with a gel polish, cuticle stick, mini nail file, and 10 remover wraps. 

The UV lamp can cure your nails in just 30 seconds, but it can only accommodate one nail at a time. So if you’re in a hurry, this kit might not be the best pick for you. Note that you can also use the lamp to perform gel pedicures if you prefer. Keep in mind that the “9-free” gel polish formula is designed to incorporate the base and top coat and professes to last up to two weeks.

Shades included: 1 | Dry time: 30 seconds | Gel lamp: Yes | Extra features: Manicure tools, remover wraps

Best for beginners
Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Gel Nail Color Starter Kit

What we love

  • Complete starter kit with UV lamp
  • Includes acetone remover
  • 30-second cure time

What we don’t love

  • Only comes with 1 polish color
  • Expensive

Anyone into at-home manicures has most likely heard of Sally Hansen, an international brand known for creating quality products. These products range from color polishes to top coats designed to improve the look and health of your nails. 

While this Sally Hansen starter kit only comes with one polish color, we do like that the brand has an extensive gel polish shade range that’s fairly affordable when purchasing individual polishes. So this is a great way to start your gel polish collection. 

The starter kit comes with a UV lamp, one gel base coat, one gel nail color, one gel top coat, 10 nail cleanser pads, acetone remover, and manicure tools, including a cuticle stick, file, and buffer. Although this pick is one of the pricier kit options, it’ll more than pay for itself after a handful of at-home applications.

Shades included: 1 | Dry time: 30 seconds | Gel lamp: Yes | Extra features: Top and base coats, manicure tools, acetone remover

Best longevity
Morovan 6 Optional Colors Poly Nail Gel Starter Kit

What we love

  • 21+ days of wear
  • Wide color selection
  • Complete kit with manicure tools

What we don’t love

  • Longer cure time of 2-3 minutes
  • Serious learning curve

Serious nail mavens may have graduated from traditional gel polish to poly gel manicures. Polygel is definitely not for the beginner, as it requires you to have a bit more experience and the right tools to lay the poly gel properly to create nail extensions. Hint: If you watch videos on Instagram or TikTok of nail pros using brushes to apply gel polish, this is what we’re talking about. 

If you’re ready for a more seasoned approach to gel manicures, this pick comes with six polygel colors of your choice, along with a base and top coat, two nail files, a nail pen, one nutrient solution multitool, a nail tip to build the polygel, 60 extension nail molds, a brush cleanser, and a mini finger UV lamp. 

A big advantage of poly gel nails is that they offer the longest wear within the gel niche with promises of at least 21 days of resistance from routine wear. But you’ll need to cure the nails for two to three minutes each, and that mini UV lamp isn’t designed to cure a full set simultaneously.

Shades included: 6 | Dry time: 2-3 minutes | Gel lamp: Yes | Extra features: Extension nail molds, base and top coat, nail tip for quick building

Best removal
OPI Gel Removal & Manicure Prep Kit

What we love

  • Complete kit to remove gel or dip powder
  • Gentle, quick solution for removal
  • Comes with prep tools

What we don’t love

  • Polish removal is still time-intensive

You might be surprised that we’re including a removal kit in our best gel nail kits roundup. But if you read through our descriptions on many of our top picks, you’ll note that gel polish remover isn’t always included. 

More importantly, if you’re experienced with gel polish, you know it’s far from easy to remove. Traditionally, you need a true acetone remover and the patience of a saint to wait for the polish to soak off. But if you don’t have that kind of time, OPI’s Gel Removal & Manicure Prep Kit is a lifesaver. 

It’s a four-piece set with everything you need to remove more durable nail products, like gel and dip powder. It comes with the Expert Touch Lacquer Remover, a 180-grit nail file, a buffer block, and a reusable cuticle stick.

While you’ll still need more time to remove gel polish compared to regular lacquer, this kit will help you quickly remove that gel without aluminum foil, extended soaking time, and the unwanted frustration that comes with it. We can always count on OPI.

Shades included: N/A | Dry time: N/A | Gel lamp: N/A | Extra features: Nail file, buffer block, cuticle stick

Best drugstore
Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish + Top Coat Kit

What we love

  • Affordable
  • Comes with gel-like top coat
  • Up to 14 days of wear

What we don’t love

  • Not a real gel
  • Requires longer drying time like regular polish

Essie is another popular nail care brand that you’re probably familiar with if you spend time in salons or simply browse the aisles at your favorite drugstore or big-box retailer. The brand also has a category dedicated to gel polish. Although Essie’s website doesn’t feature this two-piece kit, you’ll find it if you go online or in-store to authorized retailers. 

This set includes a color gel polish along with a top coat that promises up to 14 days of wear with an instant gel-like shine. Note that this is not a true gel but a gel-like polish. It doesn’t require a lamp, and as a result, the brand guarantees that removal is significantly easier.

Shades included: 1 | Dry time: 10-15 minutes, on average | Gel lamp: No | Extra features: N/A

Best top coat
Seche Vive Instant Gel Effect Top Coat

What we love

  • Turns any manicure into a gel
  • Plump high-wattage shine
  • Instant dry time

What we don’t love

  • Not a real gel

Sometimes you can’t find your favorite nail polish shade in a gel version. But that doesn’t mean you should suffer with a lesser manicure that chips an hour after the polish is applied. If you want to turn any manicure into a gel manicure, sometimes all you need is the right top coat. 

Your solution might just be the Seche Vive Instant Gel Effect Top Coat. While it’s not a true gel top coat, it works to give you that plump shine associated with gels and a harder surface that’s more resistant to cracking and chipping. Better still, it dries quickly, and you don’t need a UV or LED lamp to cure it. Plus, when it’s time to retire your manicure, this pick easily wipes away with acetone or non-acetone removers.

Shades included: N/A | Dry time: Instant | Gel lamp: N/A | Extra features: N/A

A gorgeous at-home manicure can be yours

Gel manicures are gorgeous and long-lasting. But we can all agree that getting them done in a salon can set your budget back quite a bit. Opting for an at-home gel manicure can be a wallet-friendly alternative. If you want more shade options without having to purchase add-on colors, the Modelones Macaron Pastel kit is a great choice that comes complete with a UV lamp and nail tools. But if you’re working on a tighter budget, we recommend KISS’ Gel Fantasy Ready-To-Wear Gel Nails. 

How to pick the right gel nail kit for you

When shopping for a gel nail kit, you need to consider whether you already have certain critical tools, such as a UV lamp, or whether you need a complete starter kit. Likewise, consider how many shades are included and how easily — or not — you can apply the polish. 

Gel lamp

Gel polish can’t cure properly without the lamp. In most cases, the lamp will feature either LEDs or a UV light. These days, most lamps are USB-powered. But you can still find lamps that must be plugged into an outlet. Also, note that you can find gel lamps that are compact. For example, Ohora offers a fold-flat lamp that’s travel-friendly yet can simultaneously cure an entire hand. Meanwhile, Le Mini Macron offers a truly compact lamp, but it can only accommodate one finger at a time. 

So consider practicality, as a one-finger gel lamp isn’t realistic if you’re in a rush. If you buy a gel nail kit that comes with a lamp, it’ll usually be programmed to run for the optimal time to effectively cure the gel polish. For most traditional liquid gel polishes, this can be 30, 60, or 90 seconds. But polygel requires more time and can take as long as three minutes to set properly. 

Color offerings

The color offerings or shade range can vary widely across brands — especially for gel nail kits. At a minimum, you need at least one color. But it’s possible to find brands that offer more options. For example, more serious nail art brands like Modelones and Morovan will include anywhere from three to six (or more) shades. 

Meanwhile, more conventional consumer-focused brands may only offer one or two shades. If you want to build a collection of gel polishes quickly, opting for a kit that comes with more colors is a smarter choice. Also, keep in mind that as long as you have a gel lamp with an adjustable timer, you can purchase other colors separately, even from competing brands.


Quality can be nebulous, as everyone’s idea of “great” can be different. With gels, you’ll want to ensure that the polish can last at least two weeks. This means that you should be able to achieve 14 days of chip- and crack-free wear. However, some people might be concerned about what’s in the formula. 

You’ll often find that brands will mention phrases like seven-free, 10-free, and even 12-free in some cases. This simply means a product doesn’t contain a certain number of known harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde or toluene. Likewise, it’s possible to find vegan and cruelty-free formulas if that’s a concern. But you’ll also want to think about longevity. Some gel polishes can begin to separate or solidify as time passes. Look for options that have more stable formulas.


What should I look for in a gel nail kit? 

Ideally, your gel kit should come with a gel lamp, at least one color shade, a file and cuticle stick, and prep pads for your nails. Depending on the gel polish formula, you might need a separate base and top coat if it’s not already included in the color polish. 

What’s the best gel polish for beginners?

This depends on your experience level with painting nails. If you’re comfortable doing your own nails, traditional liquid gel polish like the Modelones Macaron Pastel starter kit or even the Sally Hansen Gel Polish starter kit can be great options. If those are more intensive than you prefer, opt for ready-to-go gel polish kits like KISS’ Gel Fantasy Ready-To-Wear Gel Nails or Ohora’s N Newtro No.1 gel nail strips — just remember the strips must be cured with a UV lamp. 

Are DIY gel nail kits worth it?

The short answer is yes. If you want to save money or don’t have time to book an appointment at a nail salon, a DIY kit is a great option. But if you genuinely enjoy going to the salon and being pampered, there’s nothing wrong with that, either.