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Test Drive: Gel Nails At Home

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Are at-home gel kits the real deal? Lately, we’ve been seeing these DIY mani sets all over drugstore and beauty boutique shelves with the promise of salon-quality gel nails at home. But how exactly do these sets work? We put the Kiss Everlasting Gel Polish Starter System to the test for all mani-kind.

The kit: The Everlasting Gel Polish Starter System comes with everything you can think of for a basic gel manicure that lasts. It contains a three-step gel polish system: a base gel to start with, a color gel of your choice to layer on top, and a clear top gel to seal it all in. For nail prep, the set contains a pack of lint-free wipes and a cleansing solution. It also comes equipped with a buff block, mini file, and manicure stick for pushing back cuticles and wiping away mistakes.

It’s all there, and easy to use, but one thing that doesn’t come in the kit is the way to seal and finish your at-home mani. To cure the gel, you will also need to pick up the Kiss Everlasting Pro LED Lamp which plugs into the wall and allows you to dry one hand at a time.

The price: The Kiss Everlasting Gel Polish Starter System sells for $19.99. The Pro LED Lamp is sold separately for the same price. Think about it this way: together, the cost is worth the price of less than two gel manicures at your local nail salon. How’s that for thrifty?

How it works: After wiping any debris and oils from our nail beds with the gel cleanser, we applied a coat of base gel as instructed in the accompanying booklet, and allowed it to cure under the LED lamp for 30 seconds. That was followed by a coat of gel color and finally the ultra-shiny clear top gel, curing under the lamp after each coat for two 60 and 30 second intervals. Amazingly, after the final cure, our manis were already dry!

The results: The gel color went on evenly and continued to look great throughout the week. We were also pleased to learn that we could touch up the shine with any kind of clear nail polish, or even add details and designs at the end with polishes from our own collections. The gel polish did not chip by the end of the week, though it did begin to lift off, creating an a-peel-ing way to change up our color. For a more effective change-over, try Kiss's All or One Remover.

All in all, the Kiss Everlasting Gel Polish Starter System made us feel in control. The multiple step gel process went surprisingly quick and we were sold on the zero dry time. Not having to leave the couch for our weekly manicure was also a perk. The mandatory UV lamps may seem clunky, intimidating, and may take up space in our bathroom, but it feels at home next to our hairdryer, curling iron, and other primp-worthy plug-ins. Here’s to the future of the DIY mani!

The Update: It's been 15 days since we first applied the product, and our mani is still largely intact. There are a few minor chips, but we're impressed! We got a solid two-weeks-and-counting using Kiss' system.