Updated: Jun 10
We all love gel nails for their shine and durability, but what we don’t love as much is the price. A set of gel nails can easily set you back £25, but did you know you can give yourself a gel manicure at home? If you would like to find out how to do your own gel nails at home, keep reading this post!
Gel manicures are hard wearing and long-lasting polishes that last from 2-4 weeks. They differ from normal nail polish as they have to be cured in order to dry, and because they have to be soaked with acetone to be removed. Gel polish is easy to work with (in fact, I think it’s easier than normal nail polish), because it doesn’t dry until it is cured with the lamp. This means you can take your time painting your nails, and can easily remove the polish from around your cuticles if you want to neaten it up.
If you have never done a gel manicure before, you can buy a kit from Amazon or eBay which contains all the tools you will need. I bought this one, which came with the lamp, top coat and base coat, acetone and rubbing alcohol. A kit may also contain one or two gel colours too. If they don’t, I recommend buying colour polish from the same line as it will be easier to get the hang of using gel polish if all your polishes have the same formulation.
You're going to need:
- Nail file
- Lint free wipes: These wipes differ from cotton wool as they don't release fluff onto your nails, but if you cannot find lint free wipes, you can use cotton wool.
- Gel nail polish base coat, colour and top coat: When choosing which gel nail polishes to go for, consider whether they are compatible with your curing lamp.
- LED/UV lamp: Lamps can either work with LED lights or UV lights to cure your polish. I recommend going with an LED lamp as their light bulbs last 50,000 hours, whereas UV light bulbs have to be replaced every 6 months. LED lamps cure your polish in 30-60 seconds, but UV lamps take 2-3 minutes.
- Rubbing alcohol
-Acetone & small nail art brush: these are optional and are just for if you want to neaten up your polish application or remove any polish mistakes.
It may seem like you need a lot of different tools and products to do a gel manicure but your lamp is a one-time purchase and the other tools and products are very inexpensive!
How to do the manicure:
1) Firstly, shape your nails to their desired shape.
2) Lightly buff your nails with your nail file until they are matte. Don’t go too hard: you are just buffing lightly until they are no longer shiny to make the gel base adhere better and make your manicure last longer.
3) Moisten a lint-free wipe with the rubbing alcohol and wipe over any nail to make sure there is no oil on the nails. This will also make your base adhere better.
4) Apply a thin and even layer of your base coat. Place your nails inside the lamp, and if you are using an LED lamp, cure your nails for 30-60 seconds. If you are using a UV lamp, cure them for 2 minutes.
Tip: while painting your nails, run the brush over the tips of your nails ("capping the free edge") which will make your manicure last longer!
5) Apply a thin layer of your coloured polish. Cure for 30-60 seconds with an LED lamp and for 2 minutes with a UV lamp. If during this stage you get some polish where you don’t want it to be, or you want to clean up your lines, dunk a nail art brush into some acetone (it has to be acetone, not nail polish remover) and remove the polish you aren’t happy with.
6) Apply another layer of your coloured polish and cure again for the same amount of time.
7) Apply a thin layer of your top coat and cure for 30-60 seconds with an LED lamp, or 2 minutes with a UV lamp.
8) Moisten a lint-free wipe with some rubbing alcohol and wipe it over the nails to remove the tacky feeling.
You’re all done! And no need to wait for nails to dry!
Enjoy your shiny and durable manicure.
It will take time to perfect the application of gel polish but believe that you can do it! It may take longer to apply than normal polish, but for me the durability more than makes up for the extra effort. If you have any questions about painting your nails with gel (or with any polish) please leave me a comment below!
Bye for now,
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