How to Give Yourself a Gel Manicure at Home

Gel manicures are super glossy, smooth, and last forever. What’s not to love? Well, not everyone is a great candidate for shellac or gel manicures. If your nails tend to be thin, brittle, or your cuticles are sore or cut, then they may not be able to handle a gel treatment, or the acetone soaks required to remove them.

But, since the gel craze began, many nail products have come out claiming to give gel-like effects at home, without UV curing or acetone soaks. Though there are some good gel-like polishes out there, what really matters is taking your time to do each step properly. Here’s how to give yourself a home gel manicure:

Don’t skip the base coat

To obtain a super smooth and shiny appearance, the surface of your nail needs to be smooth before applying polish. This can be achieved by either smoothing, buffing, and shining the surface of your nail, or taking a shortcut by applying a good base coat. Whether you buff your nail or not, don’t skip the base coat! This creates an even surface for your polish to glide over, creating a shinier appearance and preventing annoying streaks.

Also, a base coat will prevent polish from chipping or peeling off the nail, because polish adheres to a base coat better than a naked nail. If you apply two layers of a good base coat, it’ll also add a little bit of “volume” to your manicure, similar to how gel manicures look.

Get a good quality nail polish

You’ll want a high quality nail laquer, one with a high saturation of colour, strength, and shine. One of the characteristics of a gel manicure is opaque colour that looks like a thick layer on the nail. Many polishes that have the words “gel” in them that don’t require a UV light are just slightly thicker, and more opaque than typical polishes. Generally, they work well in creating a gel-like look. Essie’s Gel Coutour line is an example of high shine polish that claims to last up to two weeks.

You can also choose a polish that is chip resistant and/or has high shine, and combine it with a gel top coat. OPI Infinite shine and China Glaze Everglaze are good, long-lasting brands with high shine.

gel manicure

Let polish set completely

Now your nails are painted and absolutely perfect, which brings us to the most difficult part: letting them set. Though the surface of your nail appears “dry” after 15-20 minutes, it takes nail polish nearly 24 hours to completely harden. Before then, your nail polish will smudge or get damaged from all kinds of things, like buttoning up your shirt, taking things you of your purse, taking shoes off, cooking, and the list goes on.

Proper drying is so important because a perfect, unblemished surface is what gives nails a pro appearance. If your nails brush up against something before they’re dry, it can really reduce their glossiness.

To reduce the chances of smudging or damaging wet polish, it’s better to paint on thin coats and letting them dry before putting on the second coat. One thick coat will take much longer to dry with a higher risk of smudging than if you let one thin coat dry first, before applying an additional coat.

Add a gel top coat

A gel top coat will do a number of important things for your at-home manicure. For starters, it gives your nail a glossier appearance, which is especially helpful in creating a gel-look. Secondly, it makes your manicure more chip resistant, which is why people love gel manicures in the first place. Even if you didn’t find a gel-like polish, a gel top coat, like Essie, will give your nails that super shiny and thicker appearance of a gel manicure.

As mentioned above, it’s best to let your nail polish dry, at least most of the way, before applying a top coat.

To keep your manicure lasting longer, you can add another top coat layer every few days, or every week.

We hope you’re able to achieve the gel look you want using these tips. We also offer numerous nail services for those wanting a professional manicure that lasts a month on average. Book an appointment with us today!