If you love a long-lasting manicure that doesn’t chip and stays put for weeks-on-end, (regular polish, who?) acrylics and gel aren’t your only two options. Polygel is a hybrid of the two, offering the best of both worlds. You get the ease of application of a gel (it also cures the same way, under an LED light), but with the durability of an acrylic, explains Syreeta Aaron, a professional nail expert. Depending on how you can apply it, it can also be used simply to add color to a nail, like gel or regular polish. You can also apply it on top of a form that will allow you to achieve your desired nail length and shape, she adds. The other nice thing? This isn’t a salon-only type situation. There are plenty of great polygel nail kits available for at-home use.
We conducted hours of research on the best polygel nail kits to use at home, evaluating each kit on what’s included, like a LED lamp, tools, as well as the color options available. We also had a look at how user-friendly each kit is and took into consideration its value. After considering dozens of options and consulting with a celebrity manicurist, we landed on the following best in show.
Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit
This solid choice comes with everything you need to master a polygel manicure. We’re talking about everything from tools to a dozen shades (and a nice variety, at that), extension forms, and an LED light. (Extra bonus points for the fact that light also has an automatic sensor and adjustable timer.) We love that this kit is so user-friendly, and how convenient it is that this set comes with all of the accessories needed.
Price at time of publish: $50
LED Lamp: Yes | Color Options: 12
Beetles Poly Extension Gel Nail Kit
Here’s proof positive that you can get a polygel nail kit without shelling out more than $25. This comes with six polish shades—all of which are very wearable, and with some great options for French mani lovers, too—along with a curing lamp and forms should you decide to use them. And perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that the formulas are free of nine commonly-used toxins.
Price at time of publish: $25
LED Lamp: Yes | Color Options: 6
Makartt Poly Nail Gel Kit
We spoke with the celebrity nail expert Elle Gerstein (known as Elle), who strongly advises that people rely on a pro manicurist for polygel application, especially if they’ve never had them done before. That being said, she says this is one of her favorite brands for DIY nail lovers. You will need to purchase a curing lamp separately, but the half dozen nude hues are absolutely gorgeous, and the polygel formula is both long-wearing and nine-free.
Price at time of publish: $30
LED Lamp: No | Color Options: 6
FIGAA Poly Extension Gel Nail Kit
For those who are all about glittery, shimmery tips, this line-up of eight shades is ideal. The range of colors all feature a gorgeously glimmer-y finish; reviewers also point out that the formula is particularly long-lasting, even for a polygel. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t include a lamp or base or top coat, so this may be a better choice for polygel novices who already have the ancillary items needed on-hand.
Price at time of publish: $24
LED Lamp: No | Color Options: 8
Best for Beginners
Gelish PolyGel Trial Kit
Just beginning your polygel journey? Start here. This kit may not come with any colored gel—there’s just a clear one included—but it’s the perfect way for newbies to master the gel application technique, without getting overwhelmed. While the included lamp is tiny (best for one finger at a time), the upshot is it’s super portable and great for travel.
Price at time of publish: $66
LED Lamp: Yes | Color Options: None, just clear
Modelones Poly Nail Gel Kit
It’s easy to find regular polish that’s 9-, 11-, or 13-free (or even more), but much harder to do that when it comes to polygel formulas. Enter this pick, which is free of 11 commonly-used chemicals, as well as cruelty-free and vegan. (It’s also a good choice for those who may be prone to skin irritation or reactions.) Plus, it comes with everything you need for your DIY mani, including a lamp that is surprisingly powerful and effective for curing.
Price at time of publish: $50
LED Lamp: Yes | Color Options: 8
Best Color Options
JEWHITENY Poly Extension Gel for Nail
No matter whether you constantly like to mix up your mani color or just prefer to have plenty of options to choose from, this kit has got you covered. It comes with nearly 30 different colors; granted, there aren’t many brights, but there is a solid line-up of nudes and darker tones, as well as some with glitter finishes. The LED lamp cures quickly and is lightweight and portable, although it does bear mentioning that some reviewers say it can require a bit of time to master the application.
Price at time of publish: $39
LED Lamp: Yes | Color Options: 28
Best for Nail Art
SXC Cosmetics Poly Extension Gel Nail Kit
Polygel isn’t just a good option for a long-lasting mani. “It works great for nail art as well,” Elle points out. Here, you get everything you need to create any type of nail look your heart desires, including six colors, glitters (24 different jars worth), rhinestones, and all the tools needed for mastering detailed nail art.
Price at time of publish: $40
LED Lamp: Yes | Color Options: 6
Polygel nails offer a unique space in the world of long-lasting manicures. The Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit is our favorite overall, a one-stop-shop that comes with a nice variety of colors and everything you need for DIY polygel mani. The JEWHITNEY Poly Extension Gel Nail Kit comes with the most polish shades of any winners on our list (28, to be exact).
What to Look For In a Polygel Nail Kit
Stay away from kits that use substandard materials, which can cause you polygel nails to peel or lift. Look for a quality gel formula as well as a quality curing lamp. We love the superior quality of the curing lamp in the Modelones Poly Nail Gel Kit, which also boasts a formula that is 11-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.
Texture and Polish Finish
As with any polish, think about the types of manis you usually go for. Do you love nude, natural shades? Bold glitter finishes? Nail art? There are options for anyone and everyone out there. We especially love the range of nudes in the Markartt Poly Gel Nail Kit, which is also an expert-recommended brand. We also love that the JEWHITNEY Poly Extension Gel Nail Kit comes in 28 polish shades, if you’re looking for variety.
If you don’t want to apply the polygel onto your regular nail, you can also apply it onto a form, or extension, which then gets popped off once the gel is cured. Most kits include a variety of these, but take a closer look to see what types of shapes and lengths they come in. The Gelish PolyGel Trial Kit is a great place to experiment with extension types because it’s so user-friendly, even for beginners.
Are polygel nails good for you?
According to Elle, it’s not the material—be it polygel or not—that takes a toll on your nails. Rather, it’s a lack of knowledge and skills when it comes to application and removal that can take a toll on your tips, she points out. To that point, make sure you have a fairly good sense as to application M.O. before starting out if you are taking the DIY route, and know how to remove them correctly, too.
Are polygel nails easy to work with?
Yes, once you get the hang of it. Polygels usually come in a toothpaste-like tube, notes Aaron, making it fairly easy to dispense either onto the nail or the form itself. You can also manipulate it for as long as you’d like before curing it—unlike acrylics, which harden soon after application, she points out.
Are polygel nails better than acrylics?
Not necessarily. It depends on personal preference when it comes to application and the type of nail look you’re going for. However, it is worth mentioning that polygels don’t give off the same type of chemicals that you (and your nail tech) end up breathing in as is the case with acrylics, notes Aaron.
How do you remove polygel nails?
According to Aaron, soaking them off is the preferred methodology, and less likely to do any damage to your natural nail as opposed to filing or peeling off the polish. Start by filing just the top layer to remove the shiny topcoat. Then, soak cotton balls in acetone and apply one to each finger, wrapping in foil. Let soak until the polish comes off on its own, filing gently as needed until it’s fully gone.