Everything You Need To Know About DIY Gel Manicures
Posted on July 17 2019
If you've never tried gel polish before, consider this. Gel manicures last twice as long as regular manicures, the drying (or "curing") time is cut in half, and you can do it yourself in the comfort of your own home! That's right, if you're looking to save a few bucks this summer and put that towards your next vacation, listen up! Gel manicures are great, especially for vacations. Take a moment and browse the selection of gel polishes we carry.
- OPI GelColor
- CND Shellac
- apres Gel Couleur
- Essie Gel
- Gentle Pink
- Harmony Gelish
- IBD Just Gel
- Madam Glam
The Benefits of Gel Manicures
The Perfect Vacation Nails
Gel manicures typically last 11-14 days, which are perfect for summer vacation! This means you won't have to worry about touch-ups and chipping. As long as you follow all the proper prep and application steps, you're good to go!
A Time Saver
Did you know that regular nail lacquer takes up to 24 hours to completely dry? Even though the polish feels dry, there are particles inside that are still evaporating. With gel polish, you put your nails through a "curing" process via a LED/UV lamp, and your nails are dry in seconds! This means you don't have to worry about ruining your polish!
What You Need For Your DIY Gel Manicure
UV vs LED Lamps
You may have seen two types of lamps for curing gel polish on the market: UV and LED. You're probably wondering, what's the difference? UV lamps cure ALL types of gel polish, while LED lamps only cure LED-specific gel polishes. LED lamps cost a little more money but offer a faster dry time, while UV lamps are a little more inexpensive but take a little longer to cure.
Are UV/LED Lamps Harmful?
Compared to the rays you're exposed to while tanning, swimming, and even walking, the exposure to UV rays under a lamp is very minimal. But if you're worried, opt for a LED lamp because it cures your nails faster. You can also purchase anti-UV gloves.
Wipe vs No-Wipe Top Coat
When gel polish cures, it leaves behind a sticky, tacky layer. If you use a regular gel top coat, you need to make sure you remove the tacky layer after curing. You can use a lint-free cotton pad and rubbing alcohol or acetone. On the contrary, a no-wipe top coat is what it sounds like. It's formulated to not leave behind a residue after curing, so there is no tacky layer to remove.
Advantages to a No-Wipe Top Coat:
- thicker consistency, great for leveling out nail art
- great for nail art with gems or jewels; helps seal in the stones smoothly
- great for "sugar nails" (glitter nails that are not encapsulated with a clear coat)
- saves a step in the manicure process since you don't have to remove the tacky layer
DIY Gel Mani Kits
If you're a beginner to gel polish, we have a collection of DIY starter kits. Most of these kits come with a base coat, top coat, gel polish and a lamp. In addition, the curated sets are 10% off!
How To Apply Gel Polish At Home
- Use the cuticle stick to push back the skin on the nail.
- Use the nail file to file the surface and edge of your nail.
- Apply a very thin layer of gel polish.
- Cure in the lamp for 30 seconds (lamp will automatically turn off after 30 seconds).
- Apply a second, thicker coat and cure for another 30 seconds.
Tips For Applying Gel Polish At Home
- Avoid getting polish onto your skin or cuticle because when you cure your nails, the polish will cure onto your skin/cuticles too. If you accidentally get gel polish on your skin or cuticle, use a manicure stick to get the extra polish off before you cure.
- Don't touch your nails between layers because the product will be sticky.
- You don't need much product. Apply your gel polish in thin layers. This will help prevent bubbling and added stickiness.
How To Remove Gel Polish At Home
1. Use a file to gently buff away the top layer of gel polish.
2. Soak a cotton ball with acetone and place on top of the nail -- wrap the nail with aluminum foil or a nail remover wrap to allow the gel polish to soak off.
3. Soak for about 15 minutes.
4. After soaking, use light pressure and a gentle twisting motion to remove wraps.
5. Use a cuticle stick to gently remove the lifted gel polish. If there's any gel polish that remains adhered to the nail, do not scrape. Soak for another 2-5 minutes repeating the previous steps.
6. Use a nail cleanser to clean the surface of the nail.
7. Apply a cuticle oil to hydrate nails & cuticles.