How To Do Gel Nails At Home For Beginners – The Ideal Way…

In this article, I’ll be showing you step-by-step, how to do Gel Nails at home if you are a beginner. You will learn how to get a professional looking, beautiful Gel Manicure.

I would also like to share share with you some useful tips as well as answer some of the most common questions about Gel Nails along the way. This will ensure you can create the best designs without any issues, and you can show off your new Mani with complete confidence and pride.

Before we get started with the exact steps that you need to follow, let’s first go over what you will need.

What You Will Need

  • Wooden stick
  • Nail file
  • Buffer
  • Lint-free wipes and alcohol
  • Primer (if you really want a long-lasting mani)
  • Base coat
  • A colored polish
  • Top coat
  • Cuticle Oil
  • A really good strong LED lamp

Now if you do not currently own an LED Lamp, or a Gel Nail Kit, then I would first advise that you go ahead and purchase one. Not only will this safe you a lot of money in Salon visits, but you will also be able to do your Gel Nails like a pro, quickly, easily and effectively. I’ve actually written a Best Gel Nail Kits Buyers Guide, which outlines the best kits that are currently available, and that will include all of the equipment, and some nail products to help you along the way.

The LED Lamp that I love to use at home and on my clients in our salon, is the Gelish Harmony Salon Grade Gel Nail Kit

Best Gel Nail Kit 2018

I’ve been using this LED lamp for years now, and it comes all of the items that you will need to create a Gel Mani (most of them are in the list above) so its a great kit for beginners.

It contains the Basix kit which includes: a Top Coat, Foundation, PH Bond, Nail Nourishing Formulation, Nail Surface Cleanser, Mini File, Orangewood Sticks, Pusher and Prep Pads.

This energy efficient LED lamp also comes with a 50,000 hours of power and it’s also super lightweight while still being roomy enough for your whole hand to fit, where you can cure in as little as 30 seconds!

So if you need an LED Lamp before starting, this is the one I advise and swear by. Its the one I suggest to all of my friends.

Now that you know what I use, let’s get started with the actual step by step tutorial.

How To Do Gel Nails At Home For Beginners – The Step By Step Guide

Please note: For each of the below steps, I would recommend that you go through them one hand at a time – doing 5 nails on one hand first. You can then simply repeat the process for your other hand. 

Step One: To begin your gel manicure, you should first make sure that your nails are clean and free of old polish and any dirt.

You want to ensure that they are well groomed. This includes pushing your cuticles back following the shape and giving the nail plate a very light buff.

Push cuticles back gel nails
Pushing Cuticles Back

This is going to add a little texture for the gel to grab onto and to take hold.  Just make sure you stop once your nail starts to turn whitish

Step Two: After you have prepped and cleaned each and every one of your nails, use a lint-free wipe and rubbing alcohol to cleanse the nail.

This is going to remove any debris and oils from your nail which are things that cause your Mani to not last as long.

If you have particularly oily nails, or if you often have trouble with polish or Gel lasting, I recommend using a Nail Primer. This particular one dries sticky which really helps the gel grab onto the natural nail.

With the primer, I like to just apply it in the areas of concern like around the cuticle, the sides and the tip.

Now a quick warning from my experience – if your primer is heavy duty, if you’re wanting to remove your gel sooner than a week maybe skip this step because it seems like the longer it’s on, the harder the removal process is.

Step Three: Now that your natural nails are prepped, it’s time to apply a base coat. A base coat is designed to bond the natural nail and protect your nails from the color coat, so this step is highly recommended.

Applying Base Coat To Nails

Unlike regular polish, Gel is very thick and doesn’t dry until you cure it under your LED Lamp.

This means you’re only going to need a small amount of product and you can manipulate it as much as you need to get it evenly on your nails.

I like to use a scrubbing motion to get the gel as close to the cuticle as I can and make sure I’m covering the entire surface. Then I’ll go over it all with a couple full strokes to smooth out the surface.

Also make sure you drag just a tiny bit of the gel across your free edge to completely cap the entire nail. This will
help prevent shrinking and make your Gel Mani last longer.

Step Four: Once your base coat is on each of your nails, its time to cure the Gel in place using your LED/ UV Lamp (depending on what you have or want to use). The Gelish Lamp only needs 30 seconds.

LED Lamp Gel Nails
Curing Nails Under LED Lamp

Place your fingers and hand under the lamp, and click the button on your lamp to start. Whilst you can do your entire hand, I recommend that you do your four fingers first, and then cure your thumbs after separately.

When your nails come out of the lamp they’re still going to look wet and if you touch the gel it’s going to feel sticky. At this point don’t panic – you didn’t do anything wrong as long as you followed the steps above (and instructions of your LED Lamp manufacturer) and cured the gel for the correct time.

Your gel is actually cured, but this is just the sticky layer and it’s called the inhibition layer – it’s completely normal and expected to happen.

Try not to touch it whilst it is sticky or get any debris in the ink because this will help the color gel you apply stick to the base coat.

Step Five: So now it’s time to apply your color gel.

Just like with the base coat use a small amount of product and try to apply the color evenly over your entire nail.

I like to start just below the cuticle and push the color up as close as I can.

Again run a small amount of the gel along the free edge to cap the color.

Applying Color Nail Polish
Applying Color Nail Polish

As a beginner starting out, I recommend doing one nail at a time and curing in between until you get a better feel for how fast the gel moves. You don’t want the gel to pull up on the sides of you.

Now before you even get to your pinky make sure you’re applying the color very thinly to the edges. Having it
to thick there will cause premature lifting.

I also like to run a wooden stick along the sides of the nail to remove any gel from the skin before curing.

If you do cure gel on your skin, it might feel uncomfortable under the lamp and can also give your gel an edge to start lifting.

Be sure to keep your hand flat under the Lamp to make sure the lights are curing evenly.

If you are using a reputable lamp, it will inherently bounce the light evenly over all of the nails, so this is another reason why I recommend the Gelish Lamp.

Step Six: Once your first coat of color is on you can decide whether you need a second coat to get a more opaque color.

If you can still see the smile line of your nail tip, I recommend doing another coat.

Remember to keep your coats thin and even and cap the tip.

Cure your second layer completely then you’re ready to top coat

Step Seven: The top coat is going to act as a shield for the color and add some more shine.

If you’re used to using regular polish it’s really easy to use a heavy hand for the top coat out of habit but
you really only need a small amount.

Make sure you’re completely encapsulating the color to seal it in.

Here’s an extra tip: if your nail surface looks a little uneven before curing, just flip your hand over for about 15 seconds – gravity is going to pull the top coat back to the middle of the nail and give you a nice natural round apex which is the fake middle of the nail. Then quickly pop your nails under the lamp to cure and set that.

Step Eight: Now that your top coat is cured you can take either gel cleanser or some rubbing alcohol and a lint free wipe and remove that sticky layer.

Step Nine: Finish with a nourishing Cuticle oil to re-hydrate the skin and look after the health of your nails.

You now have a salon quality gel manicure right in the comfort of your own home.

Now before I wrap up this article, I would like to answer some common questions about Gel Nails and Gel Manis in general.


Can you use Gel Topcoat over Regular Polish?

Yes you can but your regular polish has to be completely dry or else you’ll cure the regular polish inside the gel and it will never dry which can lead to problems.

Can you use Gel to Stamp?

Yes you can and it does work. Just make sure you work quickly because gel self levels and that can ruin a delicate

My Mani Just Peels Off In The Shower Or When I Get It Wet, Why?

This is because the gel wasn’t secure on the edges and lifted which allowed water in. Make sure you keep your edges thin and fill the color in completely with top coat.

You Just Cured Your Gel And It’s All lumpy and Peeling Off

This is because you put on too thick of a coat and it cured unevenly. Also make sure you’re using a strong enough
light wattage in your lamp.

Do I Have To Have An LED or UV lamp to Set the Gel?

Yes I know there’s a lot of regular polishes on the market claiming to be a no cure gel, but real gel polish has to be cured or else will just come off like wet polish.

Again if you’re looking for a lamp, I highly recommend a Gelish LED Lamp because they’re straightforward and high-quality.

Does Gel Damage The Natural Nail?

No, the gel itself doesn’t damage the nail but incorrectly removing it or peeling it off does. If you’d like to learn how to remove gel properly, I have written an article walking you through step by step on how to do that and you can just click on this link to view it.

Final Words

I hope you found this tutorial helpful, and if you are beginner, that you now know how to do your Gel Nails at home.

If you can let me know your thoughts and if you have any more advice or tips to add about Gel, please share them in the comments below.

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