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How To Prep Your Nails For Gel Polish

How To Prep Your Nails For Gel Polish


One of the main reasons gel polish manicures start to peel after a few days is because the nails aren't being prepped correctly. This is an important step that many people skip over. Here are the steps recommended to prepare your nails for gel polish:

Step 1: Prepare your cuticles

Use a cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles. Then, go in and gently remove any dead skin. This will provide more surface area when you go to apply the polish. This will also allow you to get closer to the skin. It's important to note that if any dead skin is left on the surface of the nail, the gel will not adhere well and may lead to premature lifting. 

Step 2: Shape your nails

Choose your desired nail shape. We have an entire blog post dedicated to helping you find your perfect nail shape. You can check it out here. Use a file to gently shape the nail. Always start from the side of the nail and work towards the center. This will help your nails maintain their strength. 

During this step, you may also roughen up your nails a bit by using a soft file. This will help the gel polish adhere better to the natural nail. However, you want to do this carefully and not file too hard and damage your nails.

Step 3: Cleanse the nail plate.

Another reason why gel polish may peel or chip prematurely is because the nail plate is not clean. If your nail bed is too greasy or there's debris left behind, your gel manicure will not last long. 

To clean the nails, use a cleanser like the CND Nail Fresh, which helps reduce lifting. You can also use some lint-free pads and some acetone to clean the nail plates as well. It's important to note that you'll want to do this step only after you've pushed back your cuticles, to avoid your nails getting dirty again.

Depending on which gel system you use, there may be a pH Bonder available. a pH Bonder essentially does the same thing in that it acts as a dehydrating agent. TIP: To ensure the most long-lasting results, we recommend using the same brand for all products, as they were made to work with each other. So for example, if you were to use OPI GelColor, we recommend using the OPI GelColor Base Coat and OPI GelColor Top Coat to get the best results. 

Step 4: Use a base coat before applying your gel polish.

It's recommended that you always use a base coat before applying your gel polish. Not only will this help your gel manicure last longer, it will also protect your natural nail from staining when using more pigmented colors like reds, blues, and purples. 

The base coat is the base layer of your gel manicure. When you apply it, you'll want to avoid applying it on the cuticles. Again, this will lead to pre-mature peeling/lifting. 

If you're new to DIY gel manicures, you'll notice that there are different types of gel top coats: no-wipe top coats and regular gel top coats. Let's quickly break down the difference between the two. When gel polish is cured, it leaves behind a tacky layer that needs to be removed using pure acetone and a lint-free cotton pad. On the contrary, a no-wipe top coat is what it sounds like. It does not leave behind a tacky layer after being cured. What are the advantages to using a no-wipe top coat?

  • thicker consistency, great for leveling out nail art
  • great for nail art with gems or jewels; helps seal 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.

Check out this tutorial from Gelish on how to properly prep your nails for gel polish!

    Follow these tips and you'll become a gel manicure pro!


      Hi Ellen, Please contact our customer service at and they can assist you. Thank you!

      Beyond Polish

      I ordered your gel nail set and my top coat the lid tore up

      Ellen Marie smith

      I ordered your gel nail set and my top coat the lid tore up

      Ellen Marie smith
      Leave your thought here

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