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Get professional-quality nails with this gel manicure kit — and it's only $32

Treat yourself to the ultimate mani without leaving your home.
Casey DelBasso

My life before COVID-19 involved going to the nail salon every other week for a fresh gel manicure. While there's nothing like the feeling of walking out of an appointment with insta-worthy nails, I've had no other choice than to resort to my own skills these last several months.

During quarantine, one of the projects I wanted to try was giving myself a professional-quality gel manicure at home. After chatting with a friend, I discovered the Beetles Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit with LED Lamp for less than $35, which is such a small investment for return. This purchase alone will save me $800 annually!

I'll admit, I was definitely skeptical of the affordable price at first. With over 830 verified five-star reviews on Amazon, though, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my at-home kit.

It's easy to use

Learning how to do my own nails would be the first challenge on my list. The great thing about this gel manicure kit is that it comes with a nine-piece toolset including a hydrating cuticle oil, a foundation coat and two top coats.

The gel manicure kit includes several tools to keep your nails looking fresh.
Casey DelBasso / TODAY

To start, I always clean and shape my nails using the tools provided. (Getting accustomed to shaping my nails by myself was a challenge, but I persevered.) After shaping, I use the Beetles cuticle oil to make sure that I get the polish down as low as possible into the nail bed. Don't forget to wash your hands after using the oil!

The LED lamp also works like a charm. While I did notice a bit of a burning sensation on my nails when I placed my hands under the lamp, that's also something that happens to me when I'm at the salon. I cured my nails for 90 seconds after each coat, followed by an additional two minutes for the topcoat. It's critically important that you cure each coat to preserve your manicure.

Casey DelBasso / TODAY

It's long-lasting — if you follow the directions

My first gel manicure only lasted about a week and a half — yikes! — so I did some research on how to prolong the life of my polish. What I learned was that I should buff off the topcoat after a week of wear and add another layer of polish with a fresh topcoat. If I do that, I get about three weeks of perfect polish.

While I initially thought the polish the kit came with was a bit thick after I applied it, it looks incredible once I buffered it to the thickness I like. The vibrant colors are exactly as advertised, plus it has a lovely shine that lasts for a long time. I've been using the Beetle polish that came with the kit every time I've used the system thus far, but I'm sure you can use other brands of gel nail polishes with the UV lamp.

Casey DelBasso / TODAY

Let's get into the removal process. I’ve been testing out a few ways to remove the polish, and so far I've had the most success with a cotton ball soaked in acetone and wrapping foil around my fingertips. This is the same process that my regular salon technician would use — and it's also the safest way to remove gel polish. I would also recommend that you avoid peeling polish off yourself. Based on learning this the hard way, this method severely weakens your nails.

This gel manicure kit is well worth the $32 I paid, especially for the lamp alone! I'm quickly becoming a nail pro with every DIY gel manicure I do, all while saving tons of cash. What could be better?

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