It almost seems impossible to avoid messing up your nails after you’ve polished them to perfection. This definitely used to be me before I switched over to gel polish. For those who don’t know what gel polish is, it’s a polish that is immediately dried after the top coat is cured.
Uhhhh, yes please!
When light cured polish was first available to the nail industry, I immediately ran to the professional beauty supplier and started practising on myself, family and friends until I got the swing of things. I have done lots of sets and learned what not to do as time went on.
Doing your own gel manis at home is great, but there’s lots to know before you start. I want to share some tips with you so your manicure can be long lasting and beautiful for days to come!
Tip #1 -Choose a shape/length that’s right for you
There are many shapes and lengths to choose from, but it’s important to know which shape/length is going to work with your lifestyle. A round, short nail is strong and low maintenance shape compared to a longer stiletto one. I have always worn my own nails short and square (because they are weaker). I also make sure to soften the edges so they aren’t too sharp.
Tip #2 – Prep is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
I don’t care how annoying you think this step is, it’s the absolute most important part of the entire process. The intention of prep is to remove all moisture and push back the cuticles to reveal a smooth nail plate. A dry manicure is best when working with gel polish, so do not soak your nails in any liquid prior to application.
I repeat, do not soak your nails!
A cuticle tool (or an e-file) will be extremely helpful to push back the cuticles and then a cuticle nipper to remove the excess from the nail. Lightly buff the nail (I use a 100/180 grit buffer) to remove any shine and debris. Lastly, dip a lint-free gauze (or cut paper towel into little squares) into acetone/alcohol and remove any additional oil or dust off the nail.
Tip #3- Focus on applying thin coats
The thinner the coats are, the better you can control the product and get a proper cure. When product is applied too thick it will not cure inside the lamp and will cause premature peeling. Additionally, when there’s too much product on the nail it can flood (bleed into) the cuticle, which can be a pain to clean up and also cause lifting if cured.
When it comes to applying the top coat, you can apply a little more product to properly seal the entire nail.
Tip #4- Be patient
Make sure you aren’t doing your nails in a rush. Every stroke is crucial and will result in your manicure lasting or not. Gel polish is much different than regular polish and if not applied properly, it will all be for nothing. If you have no patience, you’re probably better off with just regular polish.
So take your damn time!
Tip #5- Maintain your manicure
Now that you have a beautiful manicure, you’ll want to apply cuticle oil several times a week and file the edges to keep them smooth. I oil mine with any oil I can get my hands on; coconut oil. avocado oil, rose hip oil and argan oil are my go-to’s. I will maintain my length by giving it a quick micro-file every few days.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you along your nail journey if you are new or looking to perfect the gel mani. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get your sets to last, it just takes practise and lots of it. I wish I took a photo of the first set I ever did… let me tell you, it was not cute. And I’m pretty sure it only lasted 2 days.
I’m wearing color “Can’t Find My Czechbook” by OPI. I had a hard time finding the gel version online-it might only be available at a professional supplier (sorrrryyyy). But I did link the regular polish below, for those that may want to scoop it up!
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!