Anyone else paint their fingernails just to have them chip like 5 seconds later? I've always loved that a shellac manicure is long lasting, but I disliked the price and that it usually left my nails brittle afterwards. A few years ago I started dabbling in at-home shellac manicures. There's so many reasonably priced options out there for UV nail lamps, you really can't go wrong! I recommend finding one with a rounded shape and timer options, like the option linked below.
The light isn't nearly as important as the polish products you are using. I've gotten a few polish sets from Amazon, and all left me less than wowed. The best brands that I've found and continue to buy are from Ulta and Sally Beauty. To get started, products that I use every time I do my nails are the brand ASP: 2-in1 Dehydrator, Bonder, Base Coat, and Top Coat. This brand is also one of my favorites for colored polish. Other brands I've been impressed with are Gelish and Red Carpet.
Now onto the application. I start with trimming and buffing my nails, and then I wipe them down with a paper towel and a little bit of the 2-in-1 Dehydrator. This step is very important because it gets rid of oils on your nails and helps the polish adhere better. Next I swipe on a little bit of bonder. This only takes a few seconds to dry and I move onto the base coat. Now is the time to start using your UV lamp. I recommend using a 45 or 60 second option. After that, you can start applying your chosen color. I apply 2-3 coats depending on the color and how thin it seems. Dry under the lamp after each coat. Next up is the top coat, and dry under the lamp one more time. Finally, take your paper towel and the 2-in-1 dehydrator to wipe your nails down one last time and you're done! No down time and the polish typically lasts two or more weeks. Bonus: I feel like this is less harmful to my nails than a salon manicure, and once you've purchased your supplies, it's much more cost effective!