Getting a manicure at a salon may be a pampering experience, but it can come with a hefty price tag, particularly if you get acrylic nails on a regular basis, need a fill in between sessions, etc. However, if you don’t have the cash to shell out for such luxuries, an at-home gel manicure might be the solution.

Gel manicures are known for providing long-lasting, chip-free nails with the help of UV light. During a gel manicure, gel nails, often resembling shiny polish, are applied on top of a person’s natural nails. After the application is complete, nails are placed under a light for a few minutes to harden.

Several at-home kits are available for this purpose, including Revlon ColorStay Longwear Nail Enamel. This polish has a gel-like texture, and does take a bit longer than standard polish to dry. However, the results are worth it- chip free nails that last! Each bottle retails for about $8, so this is a great investment if you like having polished nails all the time!

Another popular do-it-yourself kit is the Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips. All you really have to do is place the nail stickers on top of your own nails, apply the included gel top coat, and hold your fingers under the mini UV lamp (also included) for about 30 seconds.

Most gel manicures claim to last for at least 14 days. And at the end of this time, it’s not the polish that’s chipped, but your natural nails that have grown. Some women opt to simple color in the new nail growth, while others remove the original polish and start over.

Like acrylic  nails, some gel manicures do require you to soak your fingers in an acetone solution for removal. Others can be removed with regular polish removal.

Have you ever tried an at-home gel manicure? What brands/products would you recommend?