Are wondering how to do gel nails at home so that you don’t have to spend money every two to three weeks at the nail salon?
I started doing my own nails last year, and honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the salon again (unless I want to do funky and cool designs I’m not artistic enough to do on my own lol!).
So, if you’re thinking about doing your own nails, you will love this in-depth guide on exactly how to do gel nails at home.
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What are the Benefits of Gel Nail Polish?
The biggest advantage to using gel nail polish instead of regular nail polish is that it lasts a lot longer.
On average, gel nail polish lasts at least two weeks, but if your nails grow more slowly, you might have a good looking manicure for up to four to six weeks!
Another really great advantage of gel nail polish is that it doesn’t chip as easily. In fact, it takes A LOT of work to chip gel nail polish, so your nails look great until you have the polish removed.
Plus, even if you do your gel nails at home, they almost always end up looking a lot cleaner and more professional than regular nail polish, which makes it look like you had them done at the salon and paid so much more than you actually did.
How to do Gel Nails at Home
1. What do You Need to do Gel Nails at Home?
Before you can start doing your gel nails at home, you need to make sure you have all the right supplies.
Of course, when it comes to actual nail colors, that is completely up to you and your tastes, but there are some basics that are essentials for gel nails.
Here’s a comprehensive list of everything you need:
1. UV or LED Light
This is a gel nail polish ESSENTIAL.
Even though some people think curing your gel nail polish in cold water or special drying agents is a good alternative to UV or LED light, it’s not fool proof and the best option to dry your gel polish is a light lamp.
Is UV or LED Light Better?
To do your nails at home, either UV or LED light is fine and will get you great results.
On a more scientific level, however, some people prefer LED lamps to dry their gel polish because LED lamps emit more concentrated wavelengths so the nails dry faster.
But, in general, it doesn’t matter if you’re using UV or LED lamps to dry your gel nail polish – if you want your nails to dry faster, though, you can get a LED lamp.
Best UV and LED Lamps to do Gel Nails at Home
Here are links to awesome light lamps that will dry your gel polish beautifully!
- UV LED Nail Lamp with 4 Timer Settings – $28.99
- 3 Timer Setting UV LED Nail Lamp – $25.99
- Professional Nail Dryer for Gel Polish – $13.59
- UV LED Nail Lamp – $9.99
2. Nail Clippers
Whether you’re going to put on gel nail polish or regular polish, nail clippers are a MUST for doing your nails at home.
You’ll need these to shape and cut your nails to the desired shape you want: coffin, almond, round, etc.
Best Nail Clipper Sets
Here are links to some nail clipper sets that include all the clipping materials you could ever need for your nails!
And by the way, these sets also include tools to push your cuticles back, so it’s a two-in-one set. If you buy nail clippers separately, make sure to buy a cuticle tool – they push the cuticle back and make your manicure look a lot more professional and your manicure lasts a lot longer.
- Manicure and Pedicure Set Nail Clippers – $11.88
- Nail Clippers Set – $9.99
- 18 in 1 Professional Manicure Set – $15.99
3. Nail Buffers/Files
Buffing your nails is a critical step in how to do gel nails at home because it smooths your nails out so the manicure looks more polished and professional.
Buffing your nails is also important because it get rids of excess oil that builds up on your nail and makes your look more manicured and clean. It also allows you to change the shape of your nails after you cut them, like a nail file.
Affordable Buffer Sets
- Chamois Buffer & Buffing Cream – $12.80
- Professional Manicure E-File Set – $40.06
- Electronic Nail File and Full Manicure/Pedicure Tools – $19.14
- Nail Files and Buffers – $7.99
4. Cuticle Oil
Why do you need cuticle oil? For one, cuticle oil helps protect your nail and the skin around it, especially after you clip and cute your cuticles and the nail around it.
Cuticle oil also nourishes the nail and skin around it, and makes it appear more attractive. It can also lengthen the amount of time your gel nail polish will last because your nail and its skin has been protected.
Best Cuticle Oils
- Cuccio Naturale Milk and Honey Cuticle Revitalizing Oil – $10.59
- Sally Hansen Treatment Cuticle Rehab – $7.16
- Nail and Cuticle Care by CND – $8.50
5. Gel Base and Top Coat
Base coats are super important for gel nails to make your nail polish last longer and not stain.
Have you ever seen someone with yellow tinted nails and wondered what it is? A lot of times its residual staining from nail polish, that can happen a lot if you don’t use a base coat. Gel base coats will also make your gel nail polish last so much longer!
Just like a base coat polish is important for your at home manicure, so is a top coat polish.
Top coats basically seal everything in and leave your nail looking and feeling smooth and polished.
Top coats also make your nail polish last a lot longer!
Best Gel Base and Top Coat Nail Polishes
- AIMEILI Gel Nail Polish No Wipe Top and Base Coat Set – $7.99
- Beetles 2 Pcs No Wipe Gel Top Coat and Base Coat Set – $7.99
6. Gel Polishes of Your Choice
Now this is where it gets fun!
Once you have all these materials you need, the last thing you need to decide is the colors you want to paint your nails.
Of course, this is completely up to you but I’ve linked my favorite gel nail polish sets if you need a little help picking them!
- Drizzle Gel Nail Polish 20 Colors Fall Winter – $26.99
- Beetles Gel Nail Polish Builder Gel Nail Kit 6 Colors – $17.99
- Beetles Gel Nail Polish Set – $14.99
- Beetles Gel Nail Polish Set – $39.99
2. How to do Gel Nails at Home: Step-by-Step Guide
When it actually comes down to doing your gel nails at home, it’s really simple and very similar to how you would normally paint your nails.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Cut and shape your nails to your desired shape and size. There’s lots of nail shapes that are super popular now that you might want to try out: coffin nails, almond nails, round, and square nails.
- Cut and trim your cuticles and push them back.
- Apply cuticle oil and massage into your cuticle and the skin around your nail until moisturized.
- Buff your nails to make sure they’re smooth and there’s no sharp edges left on your nails from when you shaped them. When you’re buffing, make sure your nail bed is smooth and even and there’s no ridges visible. When you don’t feel any of the ridges on your nail anymore, that’s when you know you’re done buffing!
- Apply your base coat and put your nails under the LED/UV lamp for 30 seconds.
- Apply your gel nail polish and cure (put your hands into the light lamp) your nails for 30 seconds or however long is indicated on your light lamp.
- Put on your top coat and then cure again for 30 seconds or however long suggested on your specific lamp (though 30 seconds is standard).
- Apply another drop of cuticle oil on each nail to seal everything in and make your nails look extra glossy and beautiful.
This is the easiest and simplest way I have found to do gel nails at home!
3. How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home
The most difficult part about doing gel nails at home is removing them.
While gel nails last super long, removing them can be be tough and they can be really bad for your nails if not done properly.
Here are the best ways to remove gel nail polish at home WITHOUT hurting your nails:
- Put petroleum jelly on your cuticles to protect them from the chemicals that will remove your gel nail polish.
- Soak cotton balls in acetone and put the soaked cotton balls on each nail.
- Wrap your fingers tightly in clear plastic food wrap. Use plastic food wrap instead of foil, which is what people usually use, because food wrap creates a tighter seal so the acetone is less likely to leak and touch your skin.
- Leave the wrap on your fingers for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove any nail polish that is still remaining with a warm washcloth.
- Moisturize your hand and nails.
Here’s some acetone gel nail polish removers you will find really handy when removing your gel nail polish at home:
- Gel Nail Polish Remover – $9.99 (doesn’t require wrapping your nails in foil!)
- Super Nail Pure Acetone Polish Remover – $6.98
I hope this article helps you do your gel nail at home and makes your gel nail journey more convenient, affordable, and fun!