How To Get The BEST Home Gel Manicure
Ok sooooo the pandemic is still going. Maybe you've gone to the #nail salon anyway OR maybe you're like me, paranoid to the 10th degree and still haven't seen any of your beauty specialists. Either way, you're probably wondering how you can save money because manis, pedis, brows, hair color, all of it gets expensive. Leave a comment and let me know what part of your beauty routine you've decided to learn to do for yourself. Me? #NAILS! Doing my nails was something I was crazy about when I was in high school and college. I was the PRO nail stamper before nail stamping was cool. Shout out to my little sister who threw away my nail stamp collection (ouch). However, once I graduated from college and made real money, I gave up my home made manicures for professional ones. Those gel manicures averaged $50-60 and UP if I wanted a design. This was the first thing I decided to let go when the pandemic started. The most costly and least necessary of my beauty routines.
Over the years I've tried different home gel systems and they all sucked. I've tried one from target, from Ulta, highly rated and they sucked. I'm a nurse by profession, I wash my hands or use hand sanitizer at least 50 times a day. Those home gel polishes could not hold up. So I gave up on those and decided to go after some REAL gel.
The last few months I have had the BEST gel manicures ever, doing them myself at home. I switched up a few of my tools and methods and I've had gel manicures that last longer than when I got them done at the salon and with those home gel kits.
**FYI I am an amateur, not a nail tech, but this is what I've found works best for me**
My Tools For The Perfect Gel Manicure
1. Melody Susie LED/UV Nail Lamp : This lamp has been made for wonderful, efficient manicures. It comes with 3 time settings, a long power cord, fits your entire hand inside, turns on automatically and the bottom plate is removable. Of note, this offers both UV and LED lighting which covers all forms of gel polish you could purchase. I love that my entire hand can fit inside, meaning I can cure all my fingers at once making for a faster process. It is light weight and heavy duty, I've dropped it and it still works great.
2. Madam Glam : LOVE this line of gel polish. I've found it to be affordable, there is a wide range of colors and if you join their VIP program you get a 50% savings on your polish purchases. I prefer this over OPI as it is thicker, and thus it is easier to control the application, and the cure time is the same as with OPI.
3. Clean Up Brush: This goes a long way. Whatever you do, do NOT cure any polish if it is touching your cuticles, get a clean up brush, dip it in alcohol, dap off the excess alcohol, and clean the polish off your cuticles. These nail art brush kis is the one I'm currently using and great for beginners, however, I would recommend upgrading if you're going to be doing fancy nail art often.
Steps For a Long Lasting Gel Manicure
Shape your nails and then lightly buff up your nail bed. Using a finer grit nail file sand your nail bed in circular motions. You want to remove all the shine for from your nail bed, make sure you don't miss any spots. Then wipe clean with alcohol or acetone and a lint free wipe. **Do not wash your hands with soap and water before you start or anytime during this process**. The oils in the soap can be hard to remove from your nails and cause your polish to lift early. Instead clean your nails with an alcohol swab to remove the oils, and dirt.
Apply a primer to your nails. These set up the best conditions for your gel to adhere to your nails. ** Why is primer important?** It removes the grease you missed and changes the pH of your nail meaning the gel can stick better and you're manicure will last longer!
Apply a base coat, use a thin coat to allow for more control. Cure in your lamp according to the brands directions. Most brands need to cure in an LED lamp for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Avoid painting your cuticles and be sure to seal the edge of your nail. If at any point you get polish on your cuticles, clean it off with a brush dipped in alcohol. I've found most nail techs recommend using the same brand base and top coat as the gel polish you're using. Thus it might be wise to stick with one or two brands of gel polish. I currently use the Apres X or Madam Glam base and top coats.
Apply your gel color. Use thin layers to ensure an even application and to prevent mistakes. Always seal the edge of your nail. Thin layers also ensures that your lamp will cure them completely in the first base. I prefer to apply three or four thin layers, rather than one or two thick layers. Cure each layer according to manufacturer directions.
Apply your top coat. Top coats usually require extra time to cure. I always cure my top coat for 1 full minute and I apply two layers. I just bought a MATTE top coat, so excited to try it with my next set of nails!
Wipe the tacky layer off with an alcohol infused wipe, apply some cuticle oil and ta-da You're done!
I hope that this was helpful. Leave your questions, comments and suggestions below.
P.S. I think I'm going to start making press-ons as a hobby. Nails are obvi the current obsession haha.