During the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen people do some wild things to get their nails done. There have been the women doing manicures through the mail slots in their front doors. There’s the mobile manicure truck that’s cruising around New York. And, as the ads all over Instagram and Facebook have let me know…there seem to be plenty of at-home gel manicure kits.

Even while some salons are opening up in some states, not everyone feels comfortable getting a one-on-one service like a manicure — including me — so yes, I succumbed to the temptation and typed in my credit card number.

(Let’s just say my live-in 12-year-old manicurist just wasn’t quite meeting my professional expectations.)

if you’re thinking about purchasing an Ohora gel manicure kit, or a similar at-home option, here’s how it went.

Other reviews in our “damn you social media ads” series, in which we buy and try the products
showing up in all of our social feeds:

The Earthling Co.’s bar shampoo
Hairstory New Wash shampoo
The Ordinary skincare and makeup
Etee reusable food wraps
Glossier Balm Dot Com Universal Skin Salve
Inkbox semi-permanent tattoos
Function of Beauty custom shampoo
FLEX disposable tampon alternative
Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Eyebrow Liner
True & Co. Second Skin bra
Bombas socks

Which at-home gel manicure did I use?

We tried the Ohora at-home gel manicure kit. Here's how it went.

I’m not a frequent salon patron, but I do love a gel manicure because it actually stays on — unlikes regular nail polish, which I tend to ruin before I even make it back to the car.

So the social media ad that sucked me in was for Ohora, mainly because you get a free UV lamp with the purchase of the nail color set. (Use code FREELAMP when you check out.)

I clicked through Instagram, chose a set of nail colors, and checked out.

To be honest, I expected I’d be waiting months for my purchase to arrive. Because, Instagram ads, right? (Why do I keep buying through them?) But within a week or s,o I had a package on my porch right from South Korea.

It came so quickly, that I first thought it was something related to my daughter’s adoption agency in Seoul. But, surprise, it was my gel manicure kit!


What styles do they offer?

Our honest review of Ohora at-home gel manicure set.

Before I talk about how they work, I want to point out that Ohora’s angle is all about the bling. They have jewel-encrusted nails. Wild metallic inlay designs. There’s a lot going on here — and I admittedly am someone who prefers my nails clean, short and simple.

Typically, every nail in the set is a little different from a design standpoint. I’d say their target is probably more today’s teens and millennials than their moms (ahem, me).

They do offer a few options that are all one color or design, and if tip: if you’re looking for those, know that they were much easier to find from the Ohora website page on my laptop, versus the mobile version.

Eventually I found a fun set that was primarily navy blue, with one accent nail in a shimmery gold. Why the heck not, right? It’s a fun, at-home manicure and I’m not seeing anyone professionally anyway. So I went for it.

What comes in an at-home gel manicure set?

The Ohura set arrived with my free UV light, as promised. It’s about the size of a computer mouse, with little fold-out legs so it stores compactly. It’s pretty flimsy, but it does the job.

I also received two alcohol prep pads for wiping down your nails before you apply the color, a tiny nail file and wooden “orange stick,”  plus two sheets of “pre-cured gel manicure” stickers, as you can see in the photo above.

Actually, stickers isn’t really the right word for them. They’re pre-cured strips of gel nail polish that are bendy and flexible. You can stretch them to fit your nail if you need to. To me, they feel the way my salon gel-manicure feels when it peels off…but maybe a bit stretchier.


How do you put on your own gel manicure?

-Each pre-cured nail strip comes on a transparent sheet, so you can hold it up over your nail and choose the right size before applying.

-Tip: err on the narrower side and stretch it to fit. If you select a piece that’s too wide, it won’t adhere correctly to your nail around the cuticle.

-Peel off the gel decal and stick it to your fingernail.

Note that for me, the hardest part was actually getting the backing off the pieces of pre-cured gel. In fact, it was frustratingly hard, especially with a partially applied set of nails on one hand. I finally figured that the best method is bending the sheet through the center (between the two rows of nails) then pulling each one up from the middle to the outer edge. Updated 09/2020: I ordered a second batch of Ohora gels, and this time they were very easy to remove from the backing. 

-Press firmly onto your nail all around the edges, then trim it with nail clippers.

-File the edge, then cure it with the UV lamp up to three times. Be sure you press all the edges thoroughl yand firmly first! I had missed one before I cured it in the lamp, and it kind of drove me crazy.


How well does an at-home gel manicure come out? And does it last?

How well do at-home gel manicure kits really work? We tried one to see.Ta-da! I did it all by myself!

I was actually really pleased with my finished look! What do you think?

I think it could have passed for a salon manicure — minus the professional cuticle prep, lotions, and delightful hand massage.

After my DIY manicure, I went swimming with the kids on two different occasions that week. During the second pool trip, around day 4 or 5 after of my manicure, I started to notice a slight bit of peeling at the edge. It wasn’t visible to me, but I noticed that if I ran my hands through my hair, it would catch.

Because I’m a fussy person who can’t leave well enough alone, I removed the gel color at that point. But in fairness, I imagine it would have lasted longer if I hadn’t picked at it.

So…don’t pick at it.


How do you remove it?

The biggest headache about a salon gel manicure is having to return to the salon and pay again to have it taken off. In fact, I usually peel mine off at home. (I know, I know. It’s terrible for my nails.) That’s why I loved how this DIY gel manicure basically just pops right off, like one solid, hard piece of plastic.

Think: Lee Press-On Nails. (Remember those?)

Now the recommended method is to use the narrow orange stick to gently pry the color free from your nail. However I just used my own fingernails, not the wood stick, and it worked fine.

My teen daughter complained that it hurt her to remove the gel. So I’d say you do have to be gentle since the single solid piece is not flexible.


Some weird things I noticed about my home gel manicure.

For some reason, the finish on some of my gel pieces was matte and others were shiny. Look closely at the photo above, and you’ll see that my pinky finger has a different finish from the others. They weren’t marked matte or glossy, so I had to just guess as to what I was getting. I even wondered if maybe I was removing them from the backing incorrectly.

Ultimately, I didn’t want to waste pieces by guessing, so I just kept the mix of matte and gloss. (Go ahead and laugh, manicure purists. I can take it.)

The second weird thing I noticed is that every pre-cured gel piece is a slightly different size. Obviously, I expected some to be thumb-sized and others to be pinkie-sized, but it didn’t appear that there were any two that were exactly the same.

This means it’s a bit of a guessing game when it comes to your middle fingers.


Is an at-home gel manicure kit worth a try?

How well do Ohora at-home gel manicure kits work? We gave them a try. Not me. Clearly. Look how perfect her nails are!


Bottom line: The Ohora kit is easy to use, yields nice-looking results, and is very affordable.

At just $11.50 to $17.00 for one kit — enough supplies for three complete manicures, if you can make the sizes fit correctly —  it’s significantly more affordable than a salon gel manicure. The 30 individual pre-cured nails means you’re only paying $4 per manicure for the basic set. That’s a fantastic price!

However, it does only includes 2 prep pads, and you will have to carefully make sense of the different designs and sizes if you want to squeeze three full manis out of the kit.

Ultimately, I will order again. Even if it’s just for a fun quarantine date night with my daughter, and I end up removing the gel after a few days.

Just the experience of hanging out together and putting them on was fun enough to make it completely worth it for me.

For our “damn you, social media ads” series, we purchase all products ourselves and give everything a thorough try, to give you our best, honest review. If your results differ, we’d love to hear about it.