How Do I Choose the Best Gel Nail Kits?

A gel nail kit with a UV light and brushes for applying nail polish.
A woman with gel nails.
Gel nails curing under a UV light.
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  • Written By: Kathleen Howard
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Gel nail kits are manicure kits that contain a number of nail gels and important tools like cleansers, gel removers, and ultraviolet (UV) lamps. These kits differ from other artificial nail kits, as they contain special UV gels, instead of the ingredients required to create acrylic nails. While many gel nail kits seem similar at first, there are a few key differences that you need to consider. Manicure kits vary in the types of gels, types of UV lamps to set the gels, skill level, price and remover solutions.

The majority of gel fingernail kits contain builder gels. These builder gels are layered on top of each other to create each gel nail. Builder gels must be carefully applied using small nail brushes. Most kits also contain a base gel, finishing gel and several overlay gels. The overlay gels are available in a variety of colors, including clear.

Some people find the builder gels difficult to apply. It takes some time to learn how to apply these gels without creating unwanted bumps on the nail. Since these gels can be difficult to apply, they are typically designed for professional use.


Consumers who are looking for an easy home manicure kit will want to look for gel nail kits that contain nail polish-like gels. These gels look like regular nail polishes, but will also form a tough gel when cured under an UV lamp. Most of these also contain a base coat, top coat and a few gel polishes. The advantage of these kits is that the gels are easier to apply. You can paint the gel on just like a regular nail polish.

Another important part of a gel fingernail kit is the UV lamp. Gel nails must be cured, or allowed to harden under a UV light, after each individual layer of gel. These lamps typically range in voltage from nine to 45 watts. UV lamps also include fans and strategically placed reflectors to speed the curing process.

Instead of UV bulbs, some lamps contain light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. These lamps must be used with special LED gels, instead of the more popular UV gels. Due to the high price of these lamps, most consumers will want to choose a UV gel nail kit — at least until they grow accustomed to applying gel nails.

To choose the best gel nail kit, it is advised to look for one that fits your skill level and price range. While most nail gels are fairly affordable, powerful UV lamps can get very expensive. For home use, a low voltage UV lamp will usually suffice. Beginners might also benefit from choosing gel polishes, instead of builder gels, since they are easier to apply. Once you are comfortable with the process, you may begin experimenting with different builder gels.

When choosing a kit, also look for one that contains a cleanser, gel remover, and an instruction manual. Gel nails must be removed by soaking the nails in a special solution. If you cannot find a gel fingernail kit that includes a removing solution, you will need to purchase one separately. To ensure that the gel adheres to your nails, you must also use a special cleanser to rid your nails of oil before applying the nail gel. An instruction manual is equally important, as it will help you master each step of the process and create attractive, durable gel nails.


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