Hello, reader! This is part two in my DIY Gel Manicure series. This week, we’re going to talk about how to give yourself a super fantastic DIY Gel Manicure that looks like you got it done at the salon (but you did it, and I’m proud of you. Who runs the world? You). The hardest part is learning to paint your own nails, and quite honestly, even if I do a bad job painting mine, I still get compliments. The more you do it, the better you get, so start now!
See my post from last week for all of the tools (with links) you’ll need for your very own DIY Gel Manicure and detailed explanations on why you need them.
Since posting that post last week, I also found two starter kits by Gelish on Amazon that will save you a little bit of money. I will tell you though, I have never used the curing machine that they sell with it, so I cannot vouch for how good it is, but even if it ends up being terrible (which I doubt), it will still be a great jumping off point for your DIY Gel Manicure.
You may need to buy a couple of other nail tools if you do not have them, and of course, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, and if you love yourself, Makeup Sponges.
Again, my complete tool list and suggestions are discussed at great length on my post The Why and the What.
So let’s start, so you too can reap the benefits of your very own DIY Gel Manicure. Once you get the hang of the order, you can guilt free put that new episode of your favorite show on in the background. After all, you’re multi-tasking, so it’s using your time wisely.
Step 1: Prep yo cuticles!
Put cuticle remover, if needed, on your cuticles and wait the time suggested on the back of the bottle. After enough time has passed, use your cuticle pusher and cuticle nippers carefully to push back your cuticles and remove any dead skin. Again, I say do it carefully. Remove only a little bit at a time. You’ll be surprised at how much work the cuticle remover/eliminator does for you. You might not even need the cuticle nippers.
Step 2: Prep yo nails!
Wipe off any excess cuticle eliminator/cuticle bits with a tissue to give yourself a semi-dry surface. Shape your nails with a nail file to your desired length. You can use nail clippers if needed, but I mostly just like a file. Additionally, rough up the surface of your nails a little with the file. It will help give your polish something to grip. Just because you now have the ability to give yourself a DIY Gel Manicure doesn’t mean you want to do it all the time.
Step 3: Wash those suckers!
Water, no soap. Just to get any residues off. Yes, you may dry them with a towel, as long as it is not a soapy towel. Nooooo soap!
Step 4: Make sure you have everything you need!
You do not want to be digging around in a box full of nail polish mid-manicure. Follow this checklist.
Do you have….
- Makeup sponges (or cotton balls if you really don’t believe me about the sponges)
- Rubbing alcohol
- PH Bond
- Gelish Foundation
- Gelish Top it off
- Your GEL polish color(s) of choice
- Cuticle Oil
- Your LED curing machine PLUGGED IN
- Something to cover your workspace such as newspaper, a book, a bed of cat hair (but in all seriousness, get rid of all the animal hair on your surface unless you want to look at it under your polish on your nails and be sad)…
Use the pH bond with the included wand to paint on each of your nails. This will dehydrate the surface of the nail to make the polish adhere better to your nail. I know it seems kind of redundant to use rubbing alcohol and pH bond, but they do different things and you want your manicure to last, don’t you?
Step 7: Gelish Foundation Coat
Paint a foundation coat on your fingernails with the Gelish Foundation. Place your fingers under the LED lamp for the appropriate time based on the directions on the back of the bottle. Depending on which LED (or UV) lamp you buy, the time will vary. I usually do 30 seconds. Make sure to position your thumb so that the entire surface of your thumb is exposed to the LED lights in the lamp. I have a tendency to tuck my thumb at a weird angle, so just make sure that the LED light can see your thumb nail.
Step 8: Polish baby!
Make sure you are using GEL polish for your DIY Gel Manicure. There are brands other than Gelish. I just like Gelish because it’s easy to find, they have a lot of colors, and I’ve had good results with it. For my hand above, I used three coats of Black Shadow on my thumb, pointer, middle, and pinky finger and three coats of You’re Such a Sweet Tart on my ring finger. After each coat, you need to place your hand into the LED machine for however long you did it for the base coat (i.e. I did 30 seconds, so in between each coat, I need to put my hand in for 30 seconds). Note: your nails will NOT be dry until after you put the Top coat on, so don’t touch them in between coats. You will wreck them. If you mess up, you can always remove the polish with rubbing alcohol and redo it as long as it’s before you put the topcoat on.
Links for the colors I used in the photo above:
Step 9: Gelish Top It Off
After you’ve done your last coat and cured it in your LED machine, hit your nails up with a coat of Top it Off (it’s a topcoat), and then cure them in your LED machine. Again, the timing depends on your machine. Technically I should do 30 seconds, but I usually do 60 because I’m a weirdo.
Step 10: Rubbing Alcohol
Once your top coat has cured, take the OPPOSITE SIDE of your cosmetic sponge that you used for rubbing alcohol before, and wipe the surface of each of your nails. It will take off the residue left by the curing of the top coat, and make your nails shiny and smooth. It will also remove any extra polish that you may have missed with the topcoat/whatever, but it will not ruin your nails, I promise. You don’t want to skip this step.
Repeat STEPS 5-10 for your other hand
Step 11: Nourish Your Cuticles
Your cuticles might be a little dried out from all that rubbing alcohol. You should be nice to them, so they keep your manicure looking all pretty. Love them with some cuticle oil. Gelish makes one, and you can also find some great all natural options like the one I linked.
Step 12: Dazzle People with Your ‘Salon’ Manicure
Looking at my nails makes me so happy. It also keeps me from picking at my cuticles which is a huge bonus. Whether you have nice nails or not, you should try this. By keeping polish on my nails, I have picked and bitten at them less and they grow much better now.
To Remove Your Polish, see Polish Removal options on my other post about what tools you will need for your manicure.
More product links are also there for you to pick the best options!
Also! I just found out that Gelish makes a matte top coat. I really like the shiny one, but some people like it matte, and that’s great, so here’s the link to that:
Gelish Soak Matte Top It Off Sealer Gel Nail Polish, 0.5 Ounce
I’d love to see your DIY Gel Manicure and the combos you come up with! Tag me on Instagram @sharpthingsblog or email me firstname.lastname@example.org !
Leave em’ below!
Rachel (and Oliver)