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

If you are a beginner and are looking to do gel nails from the comfort of your own home, then you will want to know the correct way to do it.

Today, I would like to share with you the correct way through an illustrative guide of process steps along with some tips, tricks, and recommendations to ensure you do your gel nails as best as you possibly can.

So, how do you do gel nails at home as a beginner? The process steps involved include nail preparation, nail cleaning, the application of a base coat, gel curing, applying a second coat and/or a topcoat, and finishing off with good cuticle oil. 

Hello there, lovelies! I’m here to spill the secrets of the salon and guide you through the art of creating perfect gel nails right at your own home. As an experienced nail technician, I’ve done my fair share of gel manicures and now, it’s your turn to master this nail art. So, shall we?

What do you need to do gel nails at home?

Before we get started, it’s essential to have the right tools by your side. Here’s a checklist of all the things you’ll need:

  1. Gel Nail Polish: The star of our show. It comes in an array of colours, so choose one that suits your style!
  2. UV/LED Lamp: The magic behind the long-lasting gel nails. UV or LED lamps cure the gel polish, making it hard and shiny.
  3. Base Coat & Top Coat: These are crucial for a smooth application and a shiny finish. They also protect your natural nails.
  4. Nail Buffer: For smoothing out the surface of your nails.
  5. Nail File: To shape your nails just how you like them.
  6. Cuticle Pusher: A tool for gently pushing the cuticles back.
  7. Cotton Balls & Acetone: For cleaning the nail surface before application and removing any mistakes along the way.
  8. Alcohol wipes: For cleaning the sticky layer after curing.

Once you have these items in your kit, you’re ready to dive into the world of gel nails. So, let’s get started, shall we?

How to do gel nails at home

Now that we have all our tools ready, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get down to business.

Step 1: Prep Your Nails

Start by cleaning your nails with acetone to remove any oils or old nail polish.

Next, shape your nails with the file and smooth out the surface with the nail buffer.

Gently push back your cuticles with the cuticle pusher. This preparation is key for a long-lasting gel manicure.

Step 2: Apply the Base Coat

Apply a thin layer of the base coat to your nails.

Be sure not to touch the skin around your nails. If you do, clean it up with a cotton ball dipped in acetone before proceeding.

Step 3: Cure the Base Coat

Place your nails under the UV/LED lamp.

The curing time depends on your lamp’s power, but it usually takes around 30 seconds for an LED lamp and about 2 minutes for a UV lamp.

Step 4: Apply the Gel Nail Polish

Now, for the fun part! Apply a thin layer of your chosen gel polish.

Remember, thinner coats cure better, so resist the temptation to apply a thick layer.

Again, clean up any mishaps with a cotton ball and acetone.

Step 5: Cure the Gel Polish

Time to cure again. As with the base coat, place your nails under the lamp.

The curing time might be slightly longer for the gel polish, usually around 60 seconds for an LED lamp and 2-3 minutes for a UV lamp.

Step 6: Repeat

For a more opaque look, you might want to repeat steps 4 and 5. Just make sure to cure your nails after each coat.

Step 7: Apply the Top Coat

Once you’re happy with the colour, apply a thin layer of the top coat.

This will give your nails a glossy finish and protect the colour.

Step 8: Cure the Top Coat

Yes, one last round of curing. By now, you’ll be a pro at this!

Step 9: Cleanse and Hydrate

After the final cure, your nails might feel a bit sticky. That’s totally normal!

Just wipe them with an alcohol wipe to remove the sticky residue.

Now, hydrate your cuticles with a little oil, and voila! You have salon-perfect gel nails.

Remember, practice makes perfect, and this is no different.

You might encounter a few hiccups on your first try, but with time, you’ll be a gel nail pro.

Tips for a Long-lasting Gel Manicure

Now that you’ve mastered the process, here are some tips from my years of experience to help your manicure last longer:

  • Cap the Free Edge: After applying each layer (base, color, top), run the brush along the tip of your nail. This is known as ‘capping’ and can help prevent chipping.
  • Avoid Skin Contact: If the gel polish touches your skin, it can lift off, taking some of the polish on the nail with it. So, be sure to clean up any mishaps before curing.
  • Keep ’em Hydrated: Your nails, just like your skin, need hydration to stay healthy. Use cuticle oil regularly to keep your nails hydrated and your manicure intact.
  • Wear Gloves: When doing household chores that involve water or chemicals, wear gloves to protect your manicure.
  • Avoid Peeling: Whatever you do, resist the urge to peel off your gel polish. It can damage your natural nail. Instead, when you’re ready for a change, remove it properly with acetone.


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 topcoat.

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.

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 how to use nail polish remover to do so.