By katie masters



Please note that this article contains affiliate links, and that means that I may earn a commission if you buy something.


TL;DR I curated all of the necessary supplies (minus the gel) you need for your at home nail kit in my Amazon store HERE.


I’M SO EXCITED FOR THIS BLOG! If you don’t know me, I am Katie Masters aka Nail Thoughts on instagram and I am a nail tech of about 5 years now!  Been loving organizing all of my gel stuff lately, ESPECIALLY my at home nail office. 

at home nail kits

Because I mean I am such a crafty person myself and I know from personal experience when I am trying to start/learn something new, there is nothing more aggravating than when you think you have every supply and you’re in the middle of the process and you don’t have the most important thing. The worst.


So let me just help you out here to help prevent that!! So this blog is for all of you at home DIYers, beginning nail techs, or  even seasoned nail techs! I ~will~ say this blog is a little more geared towards my at-home DIYer babies out there, but ALL ARE WELCOME, SO LET’S GO!


*If you are a nail tech and are curious about what I use in the salon- this link will take you to the blog for you.

*If you are interested in how I organize all of my nail supplies at home and in the salon, here is the blog for you.

*And if you are a DIYer or even a beginning nail tech, here is a great blog on the top 5 gel mistakes I see people make with their manis and how to fix them!



I am going to try to keep things SIMPLE. Like. GEL BASICS. You are about to get the same talk that I gave my best friend who doesn’t do nails professionally at all but who is currently building her at home nail station/collection cause she wants to get better at her own gel nails for funsies. I am going to list items and explain the reason you need it, or if it’s optional!


✅ YOUR LIST (most of these are amazon links unless otherwise stated):


  • COTTON- You gotta have this for taking off your polish or gel (if you are soaking off that is)


  • LINT FREE NAIL WIPES- Why do you need this if you have cotton? These wipes are used to cleanse the nail with cleanser before application (if you used cotton, it would leave lint), it’s also used to wipe the sticky layer off of gel top coat when you are done (again, cotton just leaves too much lint behind and gets caught in things). Also using the lint free wipes to remove your polish and/or gel really sort of…sucks?? It’s weird. It just doesn’t work well.


  • GEL REMOVAL CLIPS- No more wrapping your fingies in foil when you are soaking your gel off. It’s too much waste, and honestly annoying!? Right? Just me? These clips are reusable and frankly, SO much easier than foil, especially on yourself. Just get your acetone soaked cotton ball on top of your nails, and clamp down the clips! These COULD be optional if you are filing your gel off with an electric file…but even if I have a client come in and one nail is super lifted, I use these clips to soak it off. It’s worth it to just soak off that nail instead of try to e-file away the lifting and risk hurting the nail. Great for removing gel from your toes too! Highly recommend for all you DIYers out there.
gel nail removal clip


    • ACETONE- Need it for getting old polish off, soaking your gel off, etc. Don’t get “Nail Polish Remover”, get acetone! 


    • ALCOHOL/NAIL CLEANSER- This is what you will need to cleanse the nail as the final step before you apply your gel or polish. Most nail cleansers from big nail brands are literally just alcohol mixed with acetone and some color dye like blue and sometimes a scent. Which can sometimes mess with adhesion a little. So we are going to make things easy and make our own. All you need is 90% (or more) Isopropyl alcohol and pure acetone. Mix in your pump 25% acetone and 75% alcohol and VOILA! Use this to cleanse the nail before the application!


    • NAIL BRUSH-This technically could be optional. But this is what I use to clean the nail with. I get the cleanser on it and just scrub the nail with the brush. A lot of techs also just use the lint free wipes with cleanser on it as well! So it’s up to you! I will say, it IS nice to use a brush to get the dust off from gel removal or nail filing.
    nail brush


      • CUTICLE PUSHER- Yes you need it. You have to push that skin back to help expose the cuticle and dead skin and make a nice and even cuticle area for application. 


      • NAIL FILES- You have to shape the nails! And use this to get rid of the surface shine of the nail. This is what you can use to help file away dead skin/cuticle off the nail as well if you are a DIYer. Also, get a few! If you have been using the same nail file since you were 12,  it’s time to retire it ;). Nail files fade! You’ll also need a nice fresh nail file for gel removal as well! 


      • SPONGE BUFFER- As much as I want to make this optional…ugh, it’s not. Yes we use the nail file to file the surface  shine off of the nail, but files are usually course! You want to go back in after with the fine sponge buffer to buff away any pokes left behind from the file. I know you don’t want pokey gel! This is also great to get under the nail with after you file to shape too. 


      • LIQUID PUMP DISPENSERS- Listen, this can be optional….but like…not. It’s so worth it to have the little pump bottles! You don’t have to worry about spills, it’s easy to access with just one hand, and talking about our cleanser mixture up there, ta da- you have your own container for it. They are cuter than the large alcohol and acetone bottles too.
        liquid nail pump dispenser


      • GEL CURING LAMP- Okay so. This one, I am talking to gel DIYers only! Not profesh techs! I linked to an affordable gel curing lamp in my amazon store that I have heard good things about from other diyers (and techs as well). It will be great for your minimal usage once every few weeks at home manis! BUT if you are a professional and doing tons of clients and will be using this lamp multiple times a day on paying clients, I would recommend investing in a really high quality lamp! I personally just get a tad worried and weary of things that seem too good to be true like a $40 curing lamp. I don’t mess around when it comes to my paying clients and I will go straight to the gel company source to buy my lamps and invest so I know I am set for a long time and have no curing issues with my gels! I used the same lamps I invested in that I got 5 years ago with no issues and finally just recently I updated my lamp! Here is the one I use now.


      • ELECTRIC FILE- Okay so if you are a DIYer this is optional! E-files are great for like the SERIOUS at home nail tech. Like this is your fave hobby and you love sitting down and learning all things nails. This is what you will use to remove cuticle and also to remove your gel. The thing with e-files though, is the high quality ones can be very pricey, and for the DIY nail tech, you most likely are not down to drop $300-$400 on one. SO I ordered one of these amazon ones in hopes to get a cheaper yet decent quality one for you and I am very impressed for a cheaper e-file! I approve!!!


      *Same convo as your curing unit however. I wouldn't recommend that specific electric file for nail techs who will be using this all day everyday. If you are interestied in investing in an e-file for clients and a LOT of use- here is mine, super smooth, rechargeable (great for house calls) small, and HIGH powered.


      • ELECTRIC FILE BITS- This is obviously tied with the electric file, which makes this optional as well. So if you are not planning to get an electric file, then skip this! But if you ARE, I created a whole blog post dedicated to analyzing the pros and cons of different gel removal bits and cuticle bits for nail people at any skill level! Click here to read it.


      • GEL BASE COAT- Yes, you need a base coat hehe. Gel isn’t like nail polish! I collaborated with the gel nail brand Kokoist to create three really beautiful base coats that are actually a color AND base coat in one. It saves so much time in the salon because you can apply it and then put a top coat right on top and skip two extra layers of color! These are all very neutral colors, and slightly sheer depending on the thickness of your application, which is great especially for the DIYers out there because they hide your mistakes very well ;) . SO great for toes as well so you don’t have to bend over for too long! Here they are! 
        • Anything on the Kokoist website you can always use the code NT10 to save yourself a little money too. Below is a picture of Strawberry Milk Base.


        • GEL COLOR: Obviously optional if you get one of the Tinted Base Gels since that has color built in! But I created a whole collection based on colors that are most popular in the salon and for any nail fanatic so feel free to click that link to browse around or head to my pinterest board for all types of swatches of them.
        • nail thoughts gel collection


        • GEL TOP COAT:  No you can’t get away with leaving gel without top coat ;) Here is a link to mine! It is a very thick consistency so it’ll prevent flooding and also help with encasing foils or any art brushes strokes etc! I like it because instead of doing just one nail at a time and curing to help prevent flooding into the side walls, I can do the rest of the hand with no worries! Cure for 60 seconds LED and wipe with your alcohol and lint free wipes! Here it is. 

         FINALLY- Here is a video of me doing my own nails with my gel and tons of tips and tricks and info for you to follow!


        OKAY. There you have it! I made things easy for you and curated some easy affordable stuff  in my amazon shop for you so you don’t have to search and guess which ones would be best.



         All of the rest of the stuff are linked in each description of my list! Most of the rest of the stuff is from the Kokoist website so you don’t have to order from a trillion different places! Hope this helps but most importantly HAVE FUN!


        Disclosure: Links contain affiliates. When you buy through one of those links I will receive a commission. This is at no cost to you.


        • So helpful. What is the best black and white for doing details work? The kokoist pots? I am in England so shipping super expensive so want to make sure I get everything I need (including your collab ;) ) in one go! Thanks in advance XX

          Holly Cheshire on

        • Thank you SO MUCH for putting the time to put this together! Your walkthrough of the product, not just listing it, has been so helpful 💌

          Hanna on

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