The Amazing At-Home Alternative To a Gel Manicure

The four polishes that will save you tons of dough.


maniFull disclosure: I am not on the gel manicure bandwagon. But before you summon the lynch mob, hear me out: It’s not that I’m not enticed by the prospect of a hard-as-nails, two-week mani—believe me, I am. I’m simply irked by tinfoil-wrapped nails, the obligatory soak to remove the polish and the $30-a-pop price tag.

However, as someone who nearly always has her nails painted and is a regular user of base coats, top coats and the like, an at-home mani that lasted longer than five days without chipping continued to elude me despite my best efforts. That is, until my lovely mother, a reformed salon devotee, gifted me Sephora’s Formula X System for Christmas, a set she swore rivaled any salon manicure. Turns out, she was irrefutably correct; when you use the polishes altogether, you get a super-affordable and long-lasting alternative to pricey gel versions. Call me a convert.

The set is equipped with a cleanser, base coat, polish and top coat. The cleanser—what I consider the secret weapon of the kit—is infused with witch hazel, vitamin E and cucumber extract, and it makes your nails squeaky clean by removing oils and residue.

After that, apply the base coat, two coats of polish, and a swipe of the insanely shiny topcoat for a manicure that lasts 10 days. Plus, if you add another coat of polish and topcoat on day eight, you can easily extends its life an extra four days.

The set rings in at $32 for all four polishes (the color polish is free!), which just about equals the cost of a single gel mani. On top of that, the collection is extensive, including dozens of colors in various textures ranging from high-shine and shimmers to confetti-esque glitters. You might finally be able to kick the salon habit for good.

The Details: Formula X The System, $32 at Sephora