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What is gel manicures and how to apply gel polish at home?

Being a nail technician for over 12 years, I kept hearing numbers of questions about gel polish from customers. Today I will explain what is gel polish manicure and how to do a gel polish manicure at home.

What is gel polish manicure?

Gel polish products like CND’s Shellac and Harmony’s Gelish are new products using colored gel to apply on your nails instead of regular polish. Gel polish feels a little thicker than regular polish; it requires extra time and work to applies. Nowadays, there are more and more customers choosing gel polish for their nail services, especially for natural nails.

Pros and cons of gel polish.

Using gel polish, you will figure out its pros and cons. Gel polishes get dried quicker, within 2 minutes under the Led UV light. They are glossier and tougher with more resistant ingredients. You can imagine using gel polish is like a coat of glass while using nail polish is like painting your nails with plastic. Therefore, gel polish lasts longer on natural nails than regular polishes (from 10 to 14 days or more). However, gel polish is more expensive as professional removal might be required.

When should you use gel polish?

With regular manicure service, nail polish often chips off or wears away after few days because natural nails are thinner, easier to bend with limited bonding ability. However, with the invention of gel polish, it lasts much longer and reduces 80% of the drying time. It’s a convenience option for situations when you want to be in and out of the salon, or want to make sure the color will stay during your away vacation.

How to do gel polish manicures at home?

So I assume you are planning to do gel polish manicure at home instead of going to a nail salon? That’s alright; we will share the secrets to help you succeed in doing gel polish manicure at home.

Unlike other articles on the web written by an inexperienced person who has never done a gel polish manicure herself, you’re reading an article by a real expert, who has over 12 years experience in nail salon industry. With a decent gel polish manicure kit, following the directions below and you will get yourself a glossy-looking gel polish manicure as it was done professionally.

First of all, we suggest you prepare a decent set of gel polishes and Led UV light. In most case, the durability of gel polish manicure depends on the quality of gel polish and how well it dries. We recommend Harmony Gelish or Ink for home usage since these polishes are thinner, easier to apply.

(Here is an appropriate LED UV Light we found on Amazon, you can shop for other similar products base on reviews and description. Remember it has to be a LED UV Light cause regular UV light won’t work on most gel polishes)

Step 1: Nail Surface Preparation

1. Like every regular manicure, depending on your nails and cuticle condition, we suggest you cut your nails, shape them evenly and trim cuticles.

2. Buff your entire nail surface, then use the rougher side of the buffer to roughen up the tips of your nails. This tip is where your nails constantly contact with everything you touch, so roughening your nail tips is the first step to preventing nail polish from chipping.

3. Wash your hands thoroughly, especially around the cuticle. If you use soap, please make sure you washed all the soap off.

4. Clean your nails again with a paper towel soaked with alcohol (do not use cotton here). Please make sure your nails are entirely dry and moisture free. You can use a hair dryer in this step. After this, please do not let your nails touch anything including your hair, your clothes, or skin. (Your hair and your skin have oil which can stick on your nails; your clothes have lint fibers where the cotton can get in contact with the polish later on.)

Step 2: Polishing

1. Press the brush as hard as you can while polishing to make sure gel polish is as thin as possible including foundation coat and top coat. Do not put a lot of polish on at one time. Especially with darker colors, the gel polish will get wrinkled. If the gel polish coat is too thick, it will probably never dries and peels in a couple of days.

2. Always cover the tip of your nails during all steps, base coat, polish and top coat.

3. Polish all five nails and dry them all at once in foundation coat and top coat step since they are thinner and doesn’t take as much time to apply

4. After applying foundation coat, polish one nail at a time and dry for ten seconds each. Gel polish tends to slide to the side if you leave it out for too long. You might not see a professional nail tech do this at the salon, it’s simply because we can polish faster and thinner than you are doing it yourself.

5. Polish the thumb last, put in the light by itself and lay it down flat for about 10 seconds before putting the whole hand in.

6. After finishing the first layer of gel color, dry the entire hand within 4 to 6 minutes under UV light or 2 – 4 minutes for LED light. Non-professional UV Gel lights are usually weaker than what we use at the salon, so we suggest staying in the light a couple of minutes longer than regular instruction.

7. Repeat step 4 to 6 for the second layer. Let your hand rest for a while between two layers if possible and do not go beyond step 3.

8. Finish your first hand with gel top coat, dry for 2 minutes then wipe off the residue using cotton/paper towel that moistened with alcohol. Make sure the top coat covers your nails entirely, especially around the cuticle; otherwise alcohol will remove the color around the cuticles. If you want extra protection, two thin layers of top coat is a better route than one thick one.

9. Now with one hand already completed, it’s easier for you to continue with the second hand.

That’s all we share for today. Good luck with your DIY gel polish manicure and see you in the next articles!

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