These are my real nails with a gel overlay. I did this gel at home. The brand is Harmony Gelish. The application time is an estimated 15 minutes total, that includes nail prep. They are self leveling and cure to a shiny finish with no polish. So, no filing or buffing needed! If you can apply nail polish (without getting it all over your skin, lol) then you can use this gel!
They last quite well with minimal lifting, even less if you don't get it on your skin or cuticles during application. They even last through lots of water exposure and housework!
This gel does a great job of making polish last longer! I like to change my nail polish color often, so I've only gone almost 2 weeks with only miniscule wearing on the tips (that no one would see unless they looked *very* closely) before I changed my polish. So, I'm sure it lasts longer than that. Though, if you like wearing the same color for weeks at a time, you might want to add a colored gel polish to your application.
It also appears to add flexible strength to your natural nails. Most of my nails grow just fine, but my thumb nails always split on the sides, right where the free edge meets the nail bed. But, I haven't had a split since I've been using this gel for a little over a month now!
I spent about $125 for everything I needed to get started and that includes one gel polish color and a mini UV light (which works just as well as the bigger ones, you just can't cure both hands at once). If you're interested in getting a gel polish system for yourself, let me know and I'll let you know what items you need to start and where I know you can find them!