Whether you miss your nail salon visits, you’re trying to save a little money on manicures, or you’re simply going stir crazy, now’s the time to learn how to do your own gel mani. Unlike regular at-home manicures, gel require zero drying time, so you can get back to business ASAP (that epic 5,000-piece puzzle won’t put itself together, after all). Bring the spa to you, safely remove your old gel mani, then it’s time to get going. We found the best options for the Best gel polish kit and for getting your gel mani on at home, from starter kits to lights—plus one super-easy cheat.
A gel manicure can afford you up to three weeks of chip-free nails (though, let’s face it, with all the disinfecting we’ve been doing, that’s not always the case). The first step to perfecting the gel mani process at home is taking off any remnants of your last color with a strong nail polish remover. Then, reach for one of these gel manicure kits, that are easy enough for beginners. In addition to the base coat, gel polish (or shellac, which is a type of gel polish made by the brand CND), top coat, and UV or LED light, many also come with basic grooming essentials like clippers and embellishments for nail art. No matter which one you choose—the Essie shade that doesn’t require a lamp, or the comprehensive package that comes with seven summer-ready shades and nearly a dozen extras—one thing’s for sure: You’ll be a professional in no time.
Best gel polish kit
1Gel Manicure Kit
This set’s macaron-shaped light cures one nail at a time, while the all-in-one polish sets without additional foundation, bond, or top coat steps. (The lamp will still work with other gel polishes, however.)2Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit
Get up to 10 gel manicures with this all-encompassing starter kit from the trusted brand. The shade, Shell We Dance, is a soft neutral you’ll actually want to wear again and again.3MINI Starter Kit
This starter kit contains everything you need for your first gel mani, from foundation to top coat, plus three mini polishes and a travel-size LED lamp.ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW
4Foundation Pro Kit Pro LED Light
Most at-home kits have smaller LED lights for convenience, but if you have the storage space, this larger lamp lets you cure your whole hand at once, just like at your nail salon.5Gel Couture Polish and Top Coat
Not ready to make the commitment? The shine from Essie’s Gel Couture polishes and top coat ($11.50 each) comes pretty darn close to the real thing and can last up to two weeks, no lamp required. 6Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit
For those who want the full salon experience, this 32-piece kit gives you everything you need to shape and polish your nails like the pros, including six neutral, wearable polishes.7Gel UV Nail Lamp
If you don’t want to buy an entire kit, this user-friendly LED lamp has four different time settings, and can be used for pedicures too.
How to Choose Quality Makeup Brushes
It’s not just the quality of your makeup you have to worry about — if you want to look your best, you also need a good brush!MONICA RODRIGUEZ/LIFESIZE/GETTY IMAGES
Are you a cosmetics aficionado? Do you know the difference between liquid foundations and pressed powder? Do you know how to make your eyes pop? If you own the perfect shade of lipstick and blush for every dress in your closet — well, you probably know your makeup. According to the Global Cosmetics Industry Magazine, cosmetics generate approximately $230 billion in global sales every year, so it’s clear that women buy makeup even in tough economic times. And why shouldn’t they? Makeup helps boost ladies’ confidence, highlights natural features such as eye color and cheekbones, and can enhance a mood with a simple sweep of a sexy lip color.
Whether you like to buy drugstore cosmetics or spend your dollars at higher-end makeup counters, the products you buy won’t help your skin glow if you don’t have quality makeup brushes. The right brushes bring your cosmetics palette to life, and they can mean the difference between a flawless face and a clowny mess.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.439.0_en.html#goog_452088278LoadingEnable
So, how can you tell if you’re buying a winning makeup brush? There’s one simple test to find a durable and high-quality brush: Rub it against your skin. The bristles should feel soft, not rough or scratchy. To test the strength of the bristles, run the brush against your hand to see if any fibers fall out. If they do, don’t buy it. If the bristles stay intact and feel soft, it’s a keeper.
Finding great makeup tools goes beyond testing for bristle strength, however. Let’s take a look at how to recognize a quality brush that can tackle your makeup case.
You can own the most expensive makeup on the market, but if you don’t use a quality brush, the difference will show all over your face. A good makeup brush consists of densely packed bristles, a solid handle made from wood or plastic and a shape that applies and blends makeup smoothly and evenly. It should transfer makeup effectively, meaning the brush shouldn’t lose a lot of the makeup in transit to your skin. Sturdy brushes will allow you to work cosmetic magic for years to come.
While it’s tempting to buy a professional set of 32 makeup brushes, hold off! The unspoken rule when building your collection is to purchase brushes a la carte. As you perfect your makeup application routine, you’ll quickly figure out which brushes you need daily and which specialty brushes might also be added to your kit. If you travel a lot or like to reapply makeup during the day, think about keeping an additional set of basic brushes with you as well. Makeup artists recommend seven standard brushes to help bring your face to life. These include:
- liquid foundation brush
- powder brush
- blush brush
- concealer brush
- eye shadow applicator
- eyeliner brush
- lip brush
The price for makeup brushes is generally based on their size and the material the bristles are made from. They can range anywhere from $8 for a small eye shadow blender to $60 for a large foundation applicator. Prices can be even higher for brush bristles made from delicate animal fur such as squirrel or sable. They can cost as much as $150 — for one brush!KEEP IT CLEAN
Makeup brushes are sensitive items. Oil from your face combined with makeup residue will hinder brush performance over time, not to mention harbor bacteria. Wash your brushes with a mild cleanser (such as baby shampoo) to keep them clean and oil-free.
Goat hair makes surprisingly good makeup brush bristles.DIGITAL ZOO/DIGITAL VISION/GETTY IMAGES
Makeup brushes come in endless shapes and sizes. The major difference with brushes for cosmetics is the bristles, the part of the brush that transfers the makeup from the palette and applies it to your face. Choosing which kind of brush is right for your skin is often a matter of trial and error. Some brushes may be too rough when applying makeup, and some may not stand up well to frequent use. If you’re an animal lover, you should also pay close attention to what materials the bristles are made from.
Natural brushes, whose bristles are made with various hairs from animals, are more expensive than synthetic brushes. Natural bristles tend to hold color pigments better than synthetic offerings and create a softer, more natural look on your skin. If you’re an adamant animal rights supporter, however, you’ll want to find out if the brushes were made humanely before buying. Natural makeup brushes include bristles made from the fur of various animals, including squirrels, goats, badgers, horses, minks or sable, and the condition the animals are kept in is often less than ideal.
Synthetic bristles are man-made and are usually either nylon or polyester filaments. They can be created to increase their color-carrying ability by blending fibers. Often, synthetic filaments are dyed and baked to make them softer and more absorbent and are less prone to damage from makeup and solvents. They’re easier to keep clean than natural hair brushes because the filaments don’t trap or absorb pigments, and they’re better suited for layering powders or concealers since they hold up more solidly to makeup. Also, synthetic-fiber brushes are a great fit for people with allergies to animal fur.
Just remember that regardless of your budget or the kind of makeup you use regularly, finding the perfect brush is a matter of personal preference. Yes, chances are that a brush that costs $50 will work much better than a cheap, bargain-bin buy, but, like makeup itself, what works for you is all a matter of personal preference. If you find a quality brush that makes you look your best, buy it and don’t look back, and as long as you take care of it, it should serve you for years to come.