Learning how to do gel nails/shellac at home will save you money and time! Who has 2 hours spare to spend driving to the nail salon, waiting while they do your gel nails and then driving back home? Not me!
Not to mention the $30 that it costs you each time you go to the salon.
That’s why making a small investment and buying a suitable gel nail kit will be one of the best investments you’ve made.
Read on to learn how to do gel nails at home.
How To Do Gel Nails and Shellac At Home: What You Will Need
You will need the following items to do your own gel nails at home:
- Nail file
- Isopropyl (rubbing) Alcohol
- Cotton swab
- Buffer or file
- Orange stick/cuticle stick
- Base coat
- Nail polish – after cheap polish? Check out this post!
- Top coat
- UV or LED light
Want to save time? A lot of these items can be purchased in a kit. See our post on the best gel nail kits here or see our favorite kit below!
- Light cures all 5 fingers in 45 seconds
- Pedicure friendly
- Stays on for 3 weeks with no chipping
- Uses Gelish patented technology for easy soak off
- Soaks off in 10 to 15 minutes
Step 1: Preparation
If you want to learn how to do gel nails at home, you will first want to prepare your nails by taking off any existing gel polish (or indeed any polish at all). If your nails have no existing polish, you will want to file them to get rid of any oil that may be on the surface. This is also the time to cut your nails to the desired length and shape them if required.
Next, you’ll gently push your cuticles back.
You will need to buff each nail with a 220 grit or higher buffer or file. Buff until the shine is off your nail, but do not over buff. You can damage your nails if you do.
Step 2: Base Coat
The base coat for gel nails is an important step and is not optional.
Take your base coat and apply a thin, even line starting at your cuticle. Get as close to your cuticle and nail edges as possible without actually touching it. If any of the gel touches your skin, it will peel off and cause the polish to peel off most of the nail.
You can take an orange stick and clean off any that may have touched your cuticle. Apply thin, even strokes until the nail is covered.Shop for Base Coats Now
Step 3: Curing The Base Coat
Curing gel nail polish at home can be done by purchasing either an LED light or a UV light, these an be
purchased separately or in a gel nail kit.
Each nail lamp is different, so be sure to read the instructions that came with yours, but as a general rule – The LED light is known to be faster (around 45 seconds), whereas the UV light takes a little longer (1-2 minutes).
When you take your hands out, the nails will be tacky. This is normal, and will be sorted out in the coming minutes.Shop for UV Gel Lamps Now
Step 4: Apply Color
Grab your gel nail polish and apply it the same way you applied your base coat. Start at the top, around your cuticle, and go downward. Once again, make sure none of the color touches the skin. You can use your orange stick again to correct any mistakes. Apply thin, even lines until the nail is covered.
Don’t forget to put color along the free edge of your nail. You can use your thumb to move the skin so you have easy access to apply the color.
The free edge of the nail is the white part of your nail that grows out from the finger or toe.Shop for UV Gel Colors Now
Step 5: Curing The Color
You will now cure your gel nail polish color the same way as you did for the base coat.
Once they are finished, you will want to apply another thin coat and cure for the same amount of time.
You can repeat this step until you’ve reached the desired shade of color. Keep in mind that the darker the color is, the longer it will take to cure.
Step 6: Top Coat
Apply the top coat in the same thin, even layer as before. Make sure to get every part of the surface and color. Any part that isn’t covered in top coat won’t be properly sealed and will peel away sooner than expected. Cure the top coat.
Step 7: Remove Tacky Layer
The last step to completing your gel nail polish at home is removing the tacky layer once your top coat has cured. This can be done by rubbing it with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol on a cotton swab. Now your nails should have a shiny, even finish.
There are of course many more fancy things you can do, but we will cover them in other posts.