Gel Manicures At Home

A gel manicure is the process of adding multiple layers of nail gel polish with a top and base coat. Gel manicure at home results last for several weeks longer than normal nail polish. Above all a deep and glossy look with a no-chip finish is the end result. Gel polishes are increasingly popular so learn to DIY!

Can I Do A Gel Manicure At Home?

Absolutely. Learn to do your own gel nails at home to save time and money. You'll need an at home gel manicure kit and a desire to look great. If I can do it so can you, here is what you need to know.

The Pros Of Doing A Gel Polish At Home

I get a lasting finish that I apply once or twice a month which is great. The money I saved after 3 months of DIY gel nails has paid for my nail supplies already. I don't have to make trips to the nail salon so I'm saving money there too. Getting better with my home nail salon kit is also very rewarding. I find that a do it yourself gel manicure lasts longer than the best nail polish. The initial cost is also less than $100.

Starter Gel Nail Supply List

Start off with a few nail supplies such as the best gel nail polish kit you can afford.
  • The best at home gel nail polish kit you find in your price range
  • A UV or LED gel drying and curing lamp
  • A cuticle pusher or Orangewood stick (important!)
  • Acetone with wiping pads
  • A fine grit buffer to scuff the nails a little before applying polish

At Home Gel Manicure Video Guide

This is a video showing you how to perform the gel manicure at home steps I will describe below.

How To Do Your Own Gel Nails

Applying gel nail polish at home is easy if you follow some simple steps. The first step is most important.

Prepare your nails

Important, your hands must be completely dry to apply gel polish at home! Start by using a cuticle pusher to gently push your cuticle back and trim if necesary. When done follow-up with a fine grit buffer to shape and slighty rough up the surface of your nails. Finally use acetone and a small wiping pad to wipe away any gunk or debris. These three steps are the most important in a DIY gel application.

Apply a gel polish base coat

Gel polish kits typically include a gel base and top coat as well as the gel polish itself. Use the base coat first to apply a thin layer evenly across the nail. Avoid letting the base coat touch your cuticle or the top coat will be harder to apply. Lastly cure the base coat for 5 seconds using your UV or LED lamp.

Apply a thin layer of gel polish

With the base coat set apply a thin layer of your favorite color gel polish. Your goal is to avoid bubbles so keeping the layer thin is very important. Start by covering the leading edge of your nail and apply evenly across the rest of the nail afterwards. Cure the colored gel for 30 seconds under your lamp and optionally apply a second coat + cure.

Apply a gel polish top coat

Apply your top coat in the same manner you did the other layers and cure. It takes 30 seconds to cure gel polish using an LED light and 60 seconds with a UV light. The gel top coat is clear and will make the color of your nails appear deep and glossy. It will also protect your nails for roughly three weeks.


After curing the top gel coat it's normal for your nails to have a sticky film on them. Use rubbing alcohol and a wiping pad to gently rub this sticky film away. Your gel manicure should look and feel fantastic for several weeks. Optional, apply cuticle oil sparingly and revitalize them. Voila, that's all there is to doing a gel manicure at home! Be sure to read the additional tips section below for better results.

How To Remove Gel Nail Polish

The supplies you will need for gel polish removal are cotton balls, nail groomers, acetone and tin foil. Tear a piece of cotton ball the size of your nail bed, dip it in acetone, and place it over your nail. Wrap your finger tip with a small piece of aluminum foil to hold the cotton in place. Repeat this process for every finger on one hand and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes. The acetone and aluminum will combine to create a slight warming effect which speeds up the process.
You will know the gel polish is ready for the next step if it slightly peels off just by removing the aluminum foil. Next use your nail groomers and starting at the cuticle gently scrape the surface towards your fingertip. You do not want to do this in the opposite direction or you may push gel chips underneath the cuticle, ouch! When finished use a clean cotton ball and a little acetone to wipe away any remaining gel. Lastly apply some cuticle oil or hand moisturizer to your skin to refresh and revitalize them.

How Long Does Gel Polish Last?

Gel polish lasts two weeks looking like the day it was applied. Durability beyond two weeks depends on how well prepared and cured the nails are as well as how rough you are on them. Caveat: Your nails will grow during this time leaving a space between gel and cuticle.


Tips For Maintaining Perfect Gel Nails

  • - Do not overuse your LED or UV lamp, once cured nails don't cure further
  • - Can gel nails be cured without a UV lamp? Yes, air drying works too but takes much longer
  • - Protect your gel nails with gloves while doing dishes or gardening
  • - Spend more time on research and prepping so as to spend less on fixing and redoing
  • - Higher quality gel polish produces better results, ask your local nail salon what they recommend
  • - A gel manicure requires dry hands, wait a while if you just got out of the shower
  • - A thin coating with a second coating is better than a thick coating. Bubbles love thick coatings
  • - Don't let gel polish touch your skin because the layers on top will touch it even more
  • - Experiment for complete satisfaction with your gel manicure.
  • - Are you heading to the beach soon? A matching gel pedi goes will with a gel mani!
  • - Let your nails breath between gel manicure, a few days without polish will do them good.

Fun Facts to read while curing your nails

  • - When it was realized that acrylic porcelain for dentures protected nails too it was also sold as nail polish.
  • - Madonna made yellow nail polish more popular by rocking it first.
  • - Primates have nails, mammals have claws.
  • - Nail health can be indicative of overall health.
  • - Finger nails grow faster in the summer than in the winter.
  • - A man's nails typicaly grow faster than a woman's nails unless she's pregnant.
  • - Shridhar Chillal had the longest fingernails ever measured, 29 feet 10 inches.

What is better, Shellac or gel?

A Shellac manicure and a gel manicure are the same. Both are cured under UV or LED lamps and last longer than regular polish. A company called Creative Nail Design offers a brand of gel nails called Shellac, not to be confused with shellac resin. Additionally, you can use regular nail polish with gel based coatings but it's tricky.

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