Recently, a friend of mine was convinced by his girlfriend to get a manicure. Good for her — out here doing the Lord’s work, dismantling toxic masculinity one clear coat at a time.

He texted me immediately after the polish had dried to say he really liked it. His nails had never looked healthier, his cuticles looked brand new, and it was an all-around relaxing experience. “I see why y’all do this,” he told me.


But less than a week later, I got another flurry of texts. “My nails are already chipped!” The boy was panicked. After explaining to him that nail care was a bi-weekly routine, at the very least, he was horrified. Suddenly, he switched up. The good feeling from the week before had disappeared. “I don’t know why y’all do this,” he admonished. And another one bit the dust.

I hate to admit it, but he did have a point. I love getting my nails done. It’s a fun way to express my personality, flex my creativity, and try out new, exciting designs. And over the past few years, nail art has become increasingly popular — amongst all genders.

It’s not uncommon to see male celebrities showing off brightly colored nails on the red carpet — Harry Styles even released his own line of nail polish, Pleasing. And pretentious straight boys with chipped black nail polish are ubiquitous at any trendy bar or basement party.

Meanwhile, bright gel nails and extravagant acrylics have skyrocketed in popularity. While these have always been part of the beauty standard in Black and Latinx communities, they have recently reached the mainstream.

It’s important to note that while long, gaudy acrylics were dismissed as “ratchet” or “ghetto” when Black and Brown girls were doing them… the minute your favorite white celebrities started sporting acrylics, they become the latest trend.

The politics are not surprising, but it’s great to see innovative nail artists getting the recognition they deserve as the hype has increased. But damn, is it expensive. The price for a simple manicure — let alone an intricate design — has soared along with the demand.

I don’t know why, but I’m always more willing to spend money in the summer. Plus, I love adding my trips to the nail salon to my fun city-girl summer errands list. Then the fall comes. My budget tightens to prep for the holidays, my outings become less frequent, and seasonal depression makes me less willing to go through the faff of a salon trip.

But I still love to have fun nails. So you see my dilemma.

Luckily, the market for at-home nail solutions has exploded in recent years. New, cool brands have emerged with non-toxic formulas and cool colors, while at-home solutions to gel and acrylics are also hitting the shelves. Suddenly, doing my nails at home is fun again.

It’s even a great way to get your friends together for a fun night in. It’s like an upgraded version of childhood sleepovers. These are the items you should have at hand.

All products featured are independently selected by our editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

Le Mini Macron

This cute collection of magnetic press-on nails has all the trendiest nail styles in your favorite shapes. Shop the collections — including dupes for the viral Hailey Bieber glazed nail. We know you want it.

Glamnetic Press-On Nails

These DIY gel nails at home only take 15 minutes and dry in 30 seconds for 2 weeks of color. The all-inclusive gel manicure kit includes everything you need for a DIY gel manicure at home.

Morovan Poly Gel Nail Kit

This Amazon favorite includes an LED Lamp, basic nail art tools, and a variety of polishes including a base and top coat. Reviewers love this easy, inexpensive kit.

Manicurist Green Flash LED Polish

Try this revolutionary LED nail polish for easy, quick nails. Green Flash, the first LED Nail Polish, dries instantly and offers shine and staying power for up to 10 days.

J.Hannah

If you’re looking for an elevated version of classic nail polish, J.Hannah has got you. This silky smooth polish comes in the best colors for your cool-girl fall looks.

Harry Styles’ Pleasing

We had to include it. Get your Harry-inspired manicure on with the mix-and-match colors at the genderless beauty brand, Pleasing.

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