Your Easy 8 Step Guide to a DIY Gel Manicure

Jul. 29
Don’t you just love the feeling of a fresh manicure? Heading to the salon for a gel manicure is always a great experience, but it’s also not all that budget-friendly. While we should definitely all be comfortable spending money on things that make us feel good, sometimes it’s also necessary to save some money. 
So, whether you’re totally new to gel manicures and want to introduce yourself with a DIY project, or simply want to save $50+ a month, you’re in the right place. 
What You Need for an At-Home Gel Manicure 


Firstly, there are a few things you’ll need:
  • A nail lamp. There are plenty of options depending on your budget, but most decent nail lamps shouldn’t cost much more than $50 or $60     
  • Acetone and cotton pads, in case you get any of the gel on your skin or cuticles
  • Cuticle oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towels, just in case anything is spilled
  • Gel nail polish. When it comes to picking your favorite hue, there are lots of options online – just shop around until you find the color(s) you like best
  • A few hours where no one will interrupt you (that goes for furry family too)! 
  • Something fun to watch or listen to while you do your manicure! 
Here’s Your 8 Step DIY Gel Manicure Guide 
1. Carefully cut and file your nails to the shape you’d like them; aim for equal lengths if you can.
2. Make sure those nails are nice and clean. Assuming this is your first time applying gel nail polish, and you don’t have to remove an existing manicure, you will want to make sure your nails are unpolished and free of chemicals.
3. Buff your nails gently, just to give your nails a little extra texture and prevent the natural oils on your nails from building up too much. 
4. Apply your cuticle oil. This will soften up your cuticles and allow you to push them back with ease. Make sure to wash your hands after applying the oil, otherwise the excess oil could cause your lovely gel nails to lift. 
5. Apply your base coat. Start off with an extremely thin layer of your base coat gel polish. Try and apply this base coat carefully, and if you get any of this coat on your skin or cuticles, use some acetone to wipe it away.
6. Let the polish cure under the lamp for about two minutes, then add another layer and repeat. It’s worth mentioning here that the amount of time that is required to cure the nails depends on the type of UV lamp you buy. 
7. If your polish has a lighter texture, feel free to add a third layer.
8. If your top coat feels a little sticky, don’t worry. Simply soak a small cotton wool pad in some rubbing alcohol and thoroughly rub every nail to cleanse it.
If you find that your nails feel a little dry when they come out from under the lamp, feel free to add a couple of extra drops of cuticle oil for some post-manicure hydration. Once you’ve finished doing your nails, your gel manicure should last you a few weeks. When the time comes, you should be able to remove the gel by soaking your nails in acetone, but it may be a process that requires you to go to a salon.
One thing that’s worth remembering is that the maximum amount of time you should keep each gel manicure on is about 2 weeks. After any longer than that, your nails will continue to cure in direct sunlight, which is liable to cause some damage. For this reason, it’s a good idea to remove your gel manicure, even if that means immediately applying it again. 
What if I’ve never done this before?
Try not to panic! This process is always done best if you relax and take your time (that’s why we recommend you find a great show or podcast and take an hour or two to do it slowly – enjoy it)! 
Remember, getting your nails done is a relaxing activity, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be just as enjoyable if you do it yourself! Be patient and remember that practice makes perfect. This type of process is one that will only get easier if you do it a number of times, so don’t expect your results to look exactly like you just walked out of the salon. You’ve invested in the tools you’ll need to get your nails done, so why not invest in a little time? With a little perseverance, this gel manicure guide, and the equipment mentioned above, you’ll be a nail pro in no time! And who knows, maybe after a few tries, you’ll be so proficient at it, you’ll never need to go to the salon again!
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