DIY Gel Nails: The Ultimate Guide to Home Gel Manicure

Jul. 27
. Learn what tools you’ll need to get enviable nails from the comfort of home.
You can boast beautiful nails without having to step foot outside your front door. We list the necessary equipment and lay the process out from base coat to top coat.
What Do You Need for Gel Nails? 
Before you get to the DIY gel manicure part, you’ll need to prepare a few must-have items. 
Don’t worry—you probably have most of these in your cosmetics bag. If not, we suggest the best gel polish to try and other recommended products:
The Basics
You’ll prep your nails the same way you would for a standard manicure, meaning you should have the following:
  • Cotton pads
  • Quality clippers
  • File and buffer
  • Nail sticks
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Nail oil
Gel Essentials
These are things you might not have readily available, but you’ll have to invest in:
  • Gel base and top coat
  • Gel polish
  • UV drying lamp
  • Alcohol wipes
How to Do Gel Nails in Your Home Like a Pro in 10 Steps
You’ll show off your DIY gel manicure on Instagram before you know it—just a few tips before you start.
Place your tools around you so that you don’t have to scrabble for anything with sticky nails. Don’t forget to work on a surface you won’t mind getting polish-stained.
Finally, don’t be disheartened if your first try isn’t 100-percent flawless: you’ll get better with practice!
Step #1: Clean Foundation 
Wash your hands thoroughly. You don’t want residual cream, oil, or anything else (like pet hair) interfering with the process.
Step #2: Shape Your Nails
Grab your clippers and nail file and get to work. Ensure each nail is more or less the same shape, and that there aren’t any sharp or uneven edges.
Step #3: Treat Your Cuticles
Apply nail oil to soften up stubborn cuticles. Then, carefully use a nail stick to push them back. 
Next, wipe each nail down with acetone to prep it for the gel polish—that will help it bond to your nail better.
Step #4: Buff and Smooth 
Use your nail buffer to get an even surface to work with—splits or cracks can prevent that sexy-smooth look you’re after.
Step #5: Apply Base Coat First
Apply one layer of your base coat (or dual base-and-top coat) to each nail. Dry it underneath your UV lamp—check the recommended time for your specific model.
Step #6: Ready for Gel Polish!
Don’t panic! You can apply the gel polish as you would regular polish. 
The only difference is that you will dry your nails under the UV lamp between each layer. 
You may need to add several layers if you chose a light color: the result should be opaque with no streaks.
Step #7: Carefully Remove Excess
Dip a nail stick in some acetone and get rid of any accidental splatters.
Step #8: Apply Your Top Coat
The finishing touch is a layer or two of top coat. Remember to stick your nails under your UV lamp between each layer, if you apply more than one. 
Step #9: Wipe with Alcohol
If you have a no-wipe polish, you won’t need to do this. Otherwise, grab an alcohol wipe and run it over each nail to remove residue.
Step #10: Nail Oil (Optional)
For a little extra TLC, apply a dash of nail oil. Admire your efforts and show off your DIY gel nails to the world!
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