Doing my own gel manicures has been a hobby of mine for a few years now. It started after a somewhat traumatic experience at a local nail salon. That, paired with several other unsavoury experiences and the desire to save some money led me to try DIY gel nails at home – and I haven’t turned back! As you can imagine, this newfound hobby came in handy during the lockdowns in 2020/2021. If you’re looking to try DIY gel nails at home, it’s surprisingly simple to do with products that are easy to find (as long as you know what to look for).
It took me a few years of experimentation and learning to get good at it and achieve the results I wanted. I’m not going to go over techniques in this post (I’ll leave that to the qualified experts), but I will provide you with my go-to tried and tested nail products that I use for all my at-home manicures. From gel colours to builder gels, nail art tools, prep equipment, and more – here are my top recommended products for DIY gel nails at home based on years of trial and error.
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a registered aesthetician, nor do I have any formal training in manicures or pedicures.
*Please note, as an Amazon Associate I may earn a commission from qualifying Amazon purchases through my links.
When it comes to gel manicures, the right tools and prepwork is essential to the longevity of the manicure. I’ve been using all of the products below for years and I’d highly recommend them. Special shoutout to the $30 electric nail drill from Amazon that I bought back in 2019 that is still going strong. Best purchase ever.
- Electric Nail Drill: melodysusie Electric Nail Drill Machine on Amazon
- EFile Manicure Bits: Prep, Removal, & Manicure Bits from Luminary Nail Systems
- Nail Files: Nail Files Double Sided Professional Manicure Tools on Amazon
- Alcohol Wipes: Alliance Alcohol Prep Pads on Amazon
BUILDER GELS/TOP COATS
Builder gels are a must for me, and after some trial and error I discovered Luminary Nail Systems and haven’t turned back. My personal favourite is the standard Clarity clear builder gel, although I’ve tried a few of the other colours as well. Presence is a beautiful milky-white shade that is perfect for milk bath nails, glazed donut nails, or any other manicure that requires a soft translucent white base. I also use the Luminary Nail Systems top coat and it’s great. Super strong and applies evenly every time.
- Clear Builder Gel: ‘Clarity’ by Luminary Nail Systems
- Milky White Builder Gel: ‘Presence’ by Luminary Nail Systems
- Top Coat: ‘Empower’ No Wipe Top Coat by Luminary Nail Systems
If you aren’t a registered aesthetician your options are somewhat limited when it comes to the brands you can purchase gel colors and builder gels from. That’s why I get pretty much all of my gel nail colors exclusively from Bio Seaweed Gel which sells direct to consumers as well as professionals. They sell gel colours in two different formulas – an all-in-one formula that combines base coat, colour, and top coat into one (although I usually still use a builder gel underneath), and a standard 3-step formula. I have multiple colors in each formula, and I like them both! I have also purchased a few nail colours from KOKOIST because they are highly pigmented, sold in pots, and ideal for detailed nail art.
- 3STEP Colour Gel Polish by Bio Seaweed Gel
- UNITY All-in-One Colour Gel Polish by Bio Seaweed Gel
- KOKOIST Colour Gels
When I started out, I got a mini light from Bio Seaweed Gel because it was affordable and low-commitment (I mean $30, c’mon!). Once I knew it was worth the investment, I splurged for a full-sized light from Bio Seaweed Gel as well. A few years later and it’s still going strong, so it was definitely worth the price.
Now for the fun part! There are so many options when it comes to nail art. While I love a standard single-coloured mani, I can’t resist some fun nail art or appliques every once and a while. Here are some of my favourite finds for nail art supplies – mostly from Amazon!
- Chrome Powder: AIMEILI 6 Boxes Nail Art Manicure Powder Set on Amazon
- Iridescent Powder: Allstarry Iridescent Nail Powder for Gel Polish on Amazon
- Dried Flowers: 3D Nail Art Decoration Dried Flower Accessories on Amazon
- Dotting Tools: Restly 5 Nail Art Dotting Tools on Amazon
- Nail Foils: 48 Sheet Mix Color Transfer Foil Nail Art on Amazon
- Nail Art Brushes: Winstonia Striping Nail Art Brushes on Amazon