At Home Gel Manicure!

Let me start this post by saying, I am in no way a professional manicurist. I have no training whatsoever, other than what I have googled to use on my own nails. About 5 years ago my husband got really tired of hearing me whine when I would take the time to do my nails at home, only to inevitably mess them up five minutes later. He finally did what any desperate husband would do and headed to Amazon. There, he found me an at home gel manicure UV light and immediately added to cart.

So, here we are 5+ years later in the middle of a global pandemic. I truly never would have thought my self training as a nail technician would come in so handy, but alas it has. Since no one is able to get out and get their nails done, I thought it might be helpful to do a quick post featuring the gel products that I love and have used for years. I do go to the salon and get my nails done sometimes too, but it is very expensive and time consuming. When I do my own gels at home, they last just as long as when I go get them done….I just miss the hand massage and warm towels.

I have purchased all of these products from Amazon or Sally Beauty or Walmart. I will link everything used here:

You can look at my UV light and tell that it is very well loved!
The finished product…let me just tell you how incredibly awkward it is to take a picture of your hand…

First step: Soak your nails in warm water for a few minutes and then gently push your cuticles back. Sometimes my cuticles look so bad, that I use the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and cuticle clippers. I find that it works really well at removing excess cuticles. Wash it off really well and then grab your nail clippers and file!

Next, clip your nails to your desired length and then shape them! I like mine short and square, but there are so many options. You can do round, oval, almond, or anything in between! Once you have your cuticles clipped and your nails shaped, then you are ready to get started with the fun part! You want to make sure you nail is nice and clean and free from any oils or lotions before you begin. You can purchase a solution (that is similar to nail polish remover) and give your nails a swipe to make sure they are prepped and ready. I have also used acetone nail polish remover and it works great too!

After your nails are prepped, you will want to apply a pH bond agent to your nails. This goes on just like a very thin, clear nail polish. It is very quick and easy to apply. This acts as a dehydrator so the polish can really bond to your nails. After you have applied the pH bond, the next step is to apply your foundation coat. Please note that this polish is very thick and a little more difficult to apply than regular nail polish. It is very important that you know that once you apply this foundation coat and cure under the UV light, any imperfections on your nail will be baked on. For instance, if you have any air bubbles, or a tiny piece of lint, it is there to stay until you remove this polish!

After applying the foundation coat, you will want to let your nails bake under the UV light for 60 seconds. This coat will be dry when you remove from the light and you are ready to apply your color! This is the part where you can really go crazy! Pink, blue, yellow, purple, whatever you desire you can do! Today, I have the color “Passion” on my nails by Gelish. It is the perfect pinky-coral and is great for summer! I usually do a thin coat of color and cure my nails for 60 seconds. Then, I do a second thin coat and cure for another 60 seconds.

Lastly, you are ready for the “top it off” coat. This is also a very thick top coat. One you have applied this coat, you will want to let your nails bake for 2 minutes, and then voila, you are finished! Your nails will be completely dry, which is wonderful! No chipping or worrying about messing them up! The last and final step is to take the nail cleaner that you used way back in step one, or a swipe of acetone nail polish remover, and run it over your dry nails. This will remove the “tackiness” left behind from the top coat, and also make your nails nice and shiny! I usually add some hand cream and sit back and admire my handiwork! Just like anything new, this takes a little bit of practice. But, once you get the hang of it you will love the convenience of doing your own nails at home. I prefer gel manicures to dip but if you like dip, you can also do those at home as well. I hope this was helpful, and I hope you will have fun experimenting with this while you’re hanging out at home.

One more note, just like the gel manicures you get at the salon, these do have to be soaked off in order to remove them. I usually soak a piece of a cotton ball in acetone and place it on my nail bed. Then, wrap the nail in aluminum foil with the cotton ball on your nail. Let that soak for 20 to 25 minutes and then remove the foil. You should then be able to easily scrape off the remainder of the polish!

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