Can you really get a gel manicure at home? We tried a $7 gel topcoat

Here's what happened when we tried an inexpensive gel topcoat.
/ Source: TODAY
By Bryanna Cappadona

Our editors have independently selected the items featured in this article because we think they’re worth knowing about. Shop TODAY has affiliate relationships so we may get a small share of the revenue if you buy something through our links.

Ah, gel manicures — both a bane and blessing.

It all traces back to a flaw in my being: I simply cannot function as a person in society unless my nails are painted. And gel manicures have historically served as my savior. The shellac is so durable that it can basically withstand a war zone, leaving my fingers primped, pretty and chip-free for 10 to 14 consecutive days.

Of course, gel manicures have glaring cons. As durable as the shellac is, it also wears my nails down to flimsy nothingness in the removal process, so I'm left with no other choice but to go back for another gel manicure. It's an expensive, vicious circle that has made me a prisoner of my own manicurist.

But not anymore!

Behold Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, my new secret to pulling off a glossy manicure with the same chip-free, strong finish of gel.

Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, $7, Amazon

I first stumbled upon the little blue bottle at Christmas Tree Shops (shout out to New England's best bargain store). A friend once recommended a different top coat in the Seche line for its lasting effects, but the gel effect piqued my interest because, well, I wanted a gel effect.

Since making this purchase, I can confidently vow I will never turn back. It's a transparent polish, so you can use it with any color — or brand — underneath. The top coat also dries within minutes, so, like gel manicures, you can be on your merry way without any worries of smudging.

The best part? My manicure can last a full seven to nine days without any chips. Every. time.

On the left is day one using Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat. On the right is day eight — and my manicure is almost chip-free!Courtesy of Bryanna Cappadona

The second best part? This stuff is incredibly cheap. (It's $7 on Amazon!) I've saved so much money doing at-home manicures from my couch. (If you're apprehensive about painting your own nails and need some tips, we've got you covered.)

So now, a profession: I, an erstwhile gel manicure addict, have found solace in a budget topcoat.

For more beauty recommendations, check out:

To discover more deals, shopping tips and budget-friendly product recommendations, download the new TODAY app and subscribe to our Stuff We Love newsletter!

Shop TODAY takes care to recommend our favorite items chosen by trusted experts and editors, as well as inform our readers of great deals, customer favorites, and newsworthy products from around the web. For more on our process, click here.