My awesome friend Melissa just recently showed me how easy it is to do a salon quality gel mani at home so I figured I would post my lessons learned. It really is completely different from regular polish and lasts for at least 7-10 days without chipping.
You can buy the full name brand kit but after doing so, I made some money saving revelations. Here's a complete kit for around $80-$90 but you can do it for around $60 or less.
What you absolutely need:
acetone (aka "Artifical Nail Removal") $1
alcohol (aka "Nail Surface Cleanse")...feel free to use some Purell wipes from Chick fil A ;) free?
LED lamp (get it cheap from Amazon) $8
Nail wraps (these make it easy to remove gel polish) $8
Gelish Fantastic Four (Walmart has it cheaper right now than Amazon) $28-$33
Gel polish (you can buy off brand kits pretty cheap) $10-$15
Cotton pads/balls $1
Once you have all the products, I just googled the steps to see what order to go in and how long to keep under the lamp. Melissa shared the tip of doing all of one hand and then the other and I find that works really well. The whole thing from start to finish takes less than 20 minutes and I just do them while watching Netflix. The best part is that after the last 45 seconds under the lamp, they are totally dry. I'm always that person with no patience who knicks up her nails right after getting them painted and now I can't mess them up!
I will also caution you that colors can look different in the bottle than on your nail. I had a Gelish that was supposed to be nude but showed up as a horribly ugly mustard yellow. Turned out, as soon as I put them under the lamp, it became a beautiful nude color.
Not a great pic but I love the results and it is so nice to finally paint my nails and they stay painted until I'm sick of the color.