Try THIS Tuesday: Mary’s Favorite At-Home Gel Manicure Kit (Painted & Dried in Under 10 Minutes)

Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.

Note from Collin:

Do you have a product you love? We definitely have many favorite products here on the Hip2Save Team, and thought it would be FUN to share some of them with you! I personally love product recommendations and I’ve also had a few requests from readers, so I have asked each member of the team to think of products they love (cosmetics, kitchen gadgets etc.) and to write up a post that will be shared here every Tuesday. Mary, my sidekick, is sharing one of her favorites today…

Hey there! It’s Mary, one of Collin’s sidekicks!

Do you have a hard time getting your nails to not break or not chip a couple days after they’re painted? Or don’t have time to wait 30 minutes for your nails to dry? OR do you think you’re beautiful nails are finally dry and then go and fold laundry only to later find them smudged and you have to start over 🙋 😳? Or do you go to the salon regularly but just don’t like paying those hefty salon costs?

First of all… I am no hand model (whoops! should have listened to mom when she told me not to pop those knuckles growing up! 😬) and I’m not the most experienced when it comes to gorgeous and creative nails, especially with all those fun nail designs you see nowadays on Pinterest or YouTube.


…if you said yes above, you may be interested in one of my favorite DIY nail products – the MelodySusie LED Nail Dryer. This nail dryer allows me to paint my nails using Gel polish and it cures them in just 30-60 seconds and manicures last up to 2 weeks without chipping! I can do an entire manicure (prepping, painting & applying top coat) in under 10 minutes – NO waiting for them to dry!

(Day 1 before doing my accent finger vs. Day 8)

As an active and busy mom of 3, I am always using my hands and/or banging them on something – whether, it’s doing dishes, folding laundry, shopping, typing, working out, throwing a football, etc. Before using this nail dryer with gel polish, I would paint my nails with regular polish and a top coat, but without fail I would either smudge them, crack a nail, or have the polish chip shortly after 🙄.

Also, I have always loved the look of French Manicures and have recently started experimenting with Gel French Manicures at home using my LED lamp and these polishes. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the results considering I am able to pay a fraction of the cost that I would pay at the salon! And I really love this Base & No Wipe Top Coat as it dries without a tacky feel (i.e. no alcohol wiping needed)!

Don’t get me wrong – a trip to the salon to get pampered is sometimes just worth the cost (I used to go every few weeks and would fork out $40-$70/trip, depending on if my daughter went with me! 😯). But this nail dryer/gel polishes has saved us quite a bit of money and lots of time too!

Also, my beautiful 14-year-old daughter (who really teaches me a lot when it comes to being fashionable these days 😬) loves doing her nails too, so it’s a win-win for both of us! πŸ˜€ Not to mention, we have had some great conversations while doing our nails in the bathroom.

Here are a few application tips that work for me…
  1. Prep your nails – be sure to file, buff, clip & push back cuticles and clean with alcohol
  2. Apply a gel base coat and cure with LED lamp
  3. Wipe nails with lint-free cotton ball dipped in alcohol
  4. Paint nails with desired gel color – be sure that NO gel polish gets on your skin or creates a “pool” of extra polish at the base of your cuticle. If you get excess on your skin, take a brush dipped in alcohol and wipe it off your skin and base of cuticle
  5. Cure polish under lamp for 30-60 seconds and repeat until both hands are done
  6. Apply gel top coat and cure with LED lamp
  7. Wipe nails with lint-free cotton ball dipped in alcohol (if necessary)
  8. That’s it!

SO, how do you remove gel polish?

Although gel polish takes a little bit of effort to remove, I have found that my nails are still able to grow longer and be stronger whenever I do a gel manicure rather than just a regular polish. However, here are a few tips for removal to ensure that your nails are not damaged in the process:

  • Don’t leave polish on too long – The longer you leave it on, the harder it is to get off. I recommend up to 2 weeks is a good wear time.
  • Do NOT peel gel polish off! – As tempting as it may be, peeling actually takes off the gel polish as well as the top layer of your delicate nail cells.
  • Get the right tools – You’ll need 100% acetone, cotton balls, foil and a wood nail stick
  • Protect your cuticles – Create a barrier between your cuticles and the acetone using Vaseline or Aquaphor which will help from damaging and drying out your cuticles during the process
  • Let them soak – Be sure to get maximum strength acetone, which sells for a few dollars at Walmart or Amazon. You can fill a glass bowl and dip your fingers in the bowl for 15-45 minutes or you can put a soaked cotton ball on top of each nail. Once wet, grab pieces of foil and tightly wrap around nail bed, with the cotton ball situated directly on top of the nail.
  • Be patient! – It might take 20, 30 or even 40 minutes to dissolve the gel properly, but your nails will not be as damaged. If the nail has soaked properly for a long amount of time, you should easily be able to wipe off the gel with firm finger-pressure only. If the gel is still being stubborn after this time, grab your wood tool and scrape the spot very gently.
  • Moisturize your nails – After all the polish has been removed, be sure to moisturize your nails with nail oil or lotion. Or moisturize your nails and then allow the nails to breathe overnight.
  • Repeat Manicure – I think the best manicure schedule is to do a regular manicure after every two gel manicures and repeat just to give your nails a little break in between.

Interested in doing gel manicures at home? You can purchase this MelodySusie LED Nail Dryer for just $27.99 (regularly $59.99). Also, I actually bought this MelodySusie Durable Gel Nail Polish Set in Party Queen and used code 7OVO4U5D to save 20% off the nail gel polish set – under $44 for both!

And if you’re looking for an amazing hand cream that really strengthens your nails, I highly recommend The Original Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker Hand & Nail Therapy Moisturizer by Straight Arrow! I used this “magic” lotion back in college and it would make my nails SO strong (I somehow forgot about it over the years but picked up a bottle recently and STILL love it!). After a few weeks of daily use, my nails are much stronger and not as brittle, especially after removing my gel manicures.

Have you used Gel nail products? What works for you?

Did you see our other Try THIS Tuesday posts?
Join The Discussion

Comments 37

  1. Heather C

    Nice look! Thank you so much for the link for the French. I really really like it and I have been looking for something in French!

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Heather!

  2. Q

    Thank you for posting! However, I have never seen it where you wipe your nails with a cotton ball/alcohol after you put on the base coat? I have been doing this a long time by myself or professionally!

    • Rebecca

      It’s after the top coat, if necessary. I’m guessing if it feels tacky.

    • C

      I do this al the time. It does help take away the tacky nature. πŸ™‚

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      I guess it may depend on the product you use but some of the recommendations on mine were to wipe with alcohol after every coat to ensure that you get a clean bonding each time and to also take away the tacky nature after the top coat (however, I really love the one I linked to above that dries with no tacky feeling and no wiping required!).

      • Kimberly N

        it is true that if nails feel a bit “sticky” or tacky, wipe with alcohol will help. That is common technique in salon. (I was former manicurist/salon owner)

  3. Kimberly N

    have anyone try Sally Hassen Mircale Gel polish? no light needed. I’m trying first time. As much I like the LED light, the idea of taking off really a lot of work. I heard Sally Hassen is good and can take off with regular polish. Can last between 7-14 days but it is to be determine as it is my first time to try. Thought I share this info for another option.

    • JA

      Just did mine this morning! So far, so good after grocery shopping and cleaning out my car. Not expecting much because I hand wash dishes daily but it is fun to try something new and free!

    • mel

      I love Sally Hansen Miracle Gel. I find it lasts me about 10 days on my nails, and at least a month on my toes. I sometimes apply a light coat if the tips of my nails start peeking through too much.
      I recommend CVS Beauty 360 Gel Polish Remover. I apply a soaked cotton ball to each nail (working with one had at a time), and let it sit for a minute, then wipe off. The polish comes completely off. Then I follow up with another cotton ball (or qtip) to catch any missed areas.

      • Kimberly N

        I knew I spelled the name wrong. πŸ™‚ Thank you everyone for sharing as salon is expensive these day. I was former manicurist so I’m really behind on treads.

    • Nb

      Walgreens has Sally Hansen gel 2/$12. Then there is a clippable coupon $5/2. Plus Checkout 51 has rebates for it too. I got a color and a top coat for 50 cents each yesterday.

  4. Steph

    Does this do anything for nails painted with regular polish? Will it dry them faster, or is it only for gel? Any gel polish? I have a lot of regular polish that I’m not ready to toss. Also, can you use it for your toenails? Lastly, I’m wondering there is a bulb or something that can be replaced if needed. Thanks!

  5. Stefanie

    I do enjoy gel manis, but I am definitely a Jamberry gal for the most part πŸ™‚

  6. Christie

    Thanks for the tips. I keep putting off trying the gel polish because of the removal taking so long but I may just have to try it as your nails look so nice! Mary, you and your daughter are just beautiful.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Christie! πŸ™‚

  7. Workaholic

    Be careful with this. Gel polish can cause extreme allergic reactions. Blisters and open sores on fingers. Do not get it on your skin. Wipe clean with 90% alcohol.

  8. Rebecca

    I picked up Pure Ice Shine polish with Gel Tech & their Lock It Down top coat at Dollar Tree a few weeks ago, after seeing many YouTubers recommend it. I was hesitant, but proven wrong! It works great, dries quickly, lasts 1.5-2 weeks, easy to remove. No light needed, cheap, and some cute colors too. Definitely recommend if anyone can find it at their store.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Wow – great to know! Thanks for the tip!

  9. Sarah

    Awesome! I use the brand Red Carpet Manicure from Ulta and love it as well. I save so much money instead of visiting the salon.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks Rose!

  10. Rach

    I personally find it a pain to do my own gel nails. Plus, it’s hard to paint your left and right hand (especially for me, using my left) and to get it so that it doesn’t stick on the sides of your nail or underneath. I am not at all trying to be mean, but up close, I can tell on the sides it’s not professionally done. I do think it looks just fine, but too much work, in my opinion

  11. tracee2

    Any suggestions on what to use for fungus under your toe nails? I got a pedicure recently and that is what they told me, but I am not sure what to buy or use. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • KM

      Try Vick’s VapoRub.

  12. Angel

    I am always worried about getting cancer. Even LED lights have UV lights that cause UV light that can cause cancer and premature aging.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      I didn’t know this until recently but they actually make gloves you can wear to shield the UV light

    • Nels

      I am concerned too. Just read an article about increase in skin cancers, particularly under the nails and on finger tips. They made s connection to the increased popularity of gel manicures.

  13. Elaine

    I will never understand why women are willing to do something that takes 40 minutes to remove. Especially when it only works for 2 weeks. No way. I’d rather paint my nails once a week with normal polish.

    • visitor3

      Agreed! The idea of a long soak in acetone sounds like wasted time plus strong chemical exposure. Switching my DD and me to safer methods.

  14. sabrina

    Oh my goodness! I have recently started using gel on my nails also. It is so much cheaper than getting them done at the salon. I have been using Jamberry which are 8 free so I feel good about that! There are also these little remover packets that you still k in your fingers for about 10-15 minutes then the gel just flakes off. This is the link to the gel products that I use!

  15. Frances

    Thanks so much for this post Mary. My 10 year old daughter has been wanting me to take her to the salon to get her nails done but that gets expensive! I will try this out for sure

  16. Tiffany

    I have been doing my gel at home for a year now exactly after I got married. I vowed to myself hat I will always have polish on for my marriage lol. Strange. I know. I bought a product from Amazon that will turn any polish into gel….Hudracol Polish to Gel. It’s a liquid that you mix with polish , 50/50 mix, and it will transform any polish into a gel polish. Use with the lamp I bought off Amazon as well. My nails last for 3+ weeks. Hey grow fast so I usually am doing them at the 3rd week cause the polish has grown out. It’s a great tip as I had so much polish laying around the house. I use an empty makeup jar, glass, to mix the stuff. It will eat through paper plates lol. Easy to clean off glass just with gel remover too.

    • MaryO'D

      Great tip about the Hydracol – thank you!

  17. Ash

    Soooo, with removal and reapplication this is one hour every two weeks?
    Anyone else here heard of Essie’s good to go top coat? Nails are dry in one minute. So I can do a new manicure every 5 days and it takes me 7 minutes with removal and all. That’s totals 21 minutes every 15 days with three manicured. Or this method that takes almost an hour for ONE removal and ONE application. Nope.

  18. Emilytwinmom

    I tried every kind of regular polish out there, and it chipped within two days, even “no light gel”. Tried gel, lasted three weeks. I have health problems and my nails become thin sometimes (like now) so I got them coated with acrylic, and do my gel polish at home. Super easy and makes my nail fills $17 instead of $32!!! I’ve been painting my toes for decades, and am pretty good at painting my fingernails too, who knew.

  19. MaryO'D

    40 minutes to remove? Hmm…about 4 years​ ago I switched to Shellac (gel) for manicures. I use 70% alcohol only after the top coat. The polish lasts absolutely chip-free for 2+ weeks (even longer but the nail growth requires removal). It takes me about 20 minutes to remove the old stuff, and then maybe another 10 to trim, file, buff, and soap up in prep for the next color. I love the Amazon gloves! I also use regular polish for pedi (lasts a month & slow growth suggests that’s not too long for me). I cannot imagine going back to regular polish for manis and am hopeful using Shellac won’t prove to be more harmful than regular polish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

It's not your Grandma's coupon site!

Sign up for a Hip2Save account (it's free) to access all of the awesome features!

Forgot Password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot Password

Don't have an account? Register

Become a Hip2Save Insider

Don't Miss Out! Join our large community of insiders - it's totally free! Once you join, you'll be able to save & share your favorite deals, rate posts and recipes and add items to your HipList and Cookbook! What are ya waiting for?!

Already have an account? Login

Thank you for rating!

Would you also like to leave us a comment?