I’m calling bullshit on at-home gel kits.

I vividly remember my first at-home manicure, at the ripe old age of 8. My sister and I had pamphlet of instructions on how to soak, push back cuticles, a polish nails in three strokes (base coat and top coat, too!). The years have not diminished my love of perfectly polished nails, although my wiliness to deal with chipped polish has led me to almost never paint my digits.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends in the cosmetology business over the years, and I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.

However, despite proper application, I’m hard pressed to get a manicure (at-home or professional) to last more than 24 hours. To be fair, I’m hard on my nails and wash my hands/dishes/toddler several times a day.  A regular trip to a salon is a childcare challenge, and not quite in my budget (I prefer to spend money on makeup). That’s why I was so excited when at-home nail kits hit the market (especially “light-free” options!). I’ve tried the following:

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab (Lightless)- chipped in 24 hours

Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Polish Kit (contains a light)- chipped in 36 hours

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel (lightless)- chipped in 24 hours

DIY Shellac Hack– not a kit, but a much blogged about technique using at home polish- peeled in 12 hours.

SensatioNail Starter Kit (light included)- chipped in 3 days, very difficult to remove.

The only thing “long-lasting” about these kits is how difficult it is to get the polish off. In almost every case, the product was easy to apply, and left a decent looking manicure that could be improved upon with practice. However, not one at-home kit lasted anywhere near 2 weeks. In fact, most were just marginally better than a regular manicure. Combined with the fact that it takes twice as along to apply, and five times longer to remove, I can’t even say it has saved time.

Bottom Line- Unless you are going to invest in truly professional products and spend time practicing, don’t bother with at-home gel kits. Swipe on a few coats of regular polish and accept that it will be gone by midnight tomorrow.

If you’re curious as to why at-home gels don’t work, click on through to part 2!

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