Last weekend I decided to learn how to do DIY gel nails. A Coronavirus-induced lockdown has shut the salons. I had an overgrown gel manicure that needed to come off, plus I didn’t want to waste the investment I’d made into growing and preening them! Cue learning how to do gel nails at home.
It took a lot longer to DIY gel nails than a salon appointment usually takes. However, I’m totally thrilled with the results and the kit feels like a worthy investment. The cost is akin to 2 or 3 salon gel manicure’s and I found the process really enjoyable. Doing things with your hands keeps you busy! It was a welcome break from scrolling on my phone and I popped Friends on in the background.
DIY Gel Nails: what you need
- A lamp (go for LED over UV – it’s faster and doesn’t damage your skin!)
- Prep solution
- Acetone solution
- A gel base and top coat
- Lint free wipes (very important that you don’t use normal cotton!)
- Cuticle nipper and manicure tool (optional but insanely helpful if you want a real gel manicure impact)
- 180 grit nail files/emery boards
- Gel nail colours
If you’re a total beginner I recommend this kit which has everything you need in it: Mylee Full Works or this more affordable version! Otherwise, pick and mix from the Mylee website (cheaper and better range than on Amazon! I love these gel polishes; they’re affordable and great quality.)
How to Remove a Gel Manicure
It’s super easy! So don’t pick at them.
- Gently file the top layer of the polish so it looks matte and a little rough
- Either cut tin foil into 10 small squares or use these
- Cut a few of your lint free wipes into nail-sized squares
- Soak the lint wipe in acetone and place on top of your nail
- Wrap in foil
- Do all 10 then wait ten minutes or so!
- Use a manicure tool to gently remove any remaining polish from the nail (the gel polish should have practically dissolved into the lint, you shouldn’t have to be firm with it!)
How to do a DIY gel manicure at home
ESSENTIAL TIP: Do not get ANY of the gel polish on your skin or cuticles. This will cause it to lift and chip! After each coat (including base and top) of gel polish ensure that you wipe any excess. I used my manicure tool to scrape it off if any went on the skin just under the tip of my nail. I also used a lint free wipe soaked in remover liquid to clean the surrounding skin regularly. If anything sabotages your DIY gel nails, it will be getting this wrong!
- File and shape your nails to your liking
- Gently push back and trim cuticles using a cuticle nipper (be careful – they’re sharp!)
- Use a file to gently buff the top layer of your nail so any shine/smoothness is gone
- Thoroughly clean your nails with prep solution and a lint free wipe
- Apply the base coat and cure under the lamp for 60 seconds
- Next, apply two coats of the colour of your choice and cure each for 30-60 seconds
- Then apply the top coat and cure for 60 seconds
- Thoroughly wipe the nails with a lint free wipe soaked in the prep solution
- Sit back and feel smug with your DIY gel nails!
TIP: Make the coats of gel polish THIN. It’s better to do more than to do thick, gloopy coats.
PS. If you’re stuck in lockdown then these posts might be helpful…
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