10 Ways to Try Gel Polish at Home

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If you find yourself in-between salon visits, or you just want to get more use out of your new gel polish set, here are 10 ways to try gel polish at home.

1. Dip it. If you want a nail color to last longer and not chip, use a gel top coat over the nail color to seal it in.

2. Make it matte. Gel polish has a glossy finish when applied wet, but when dried and cured, it can be turned into a matte finish with the right top coat.

3. Make it glossy again. Instead of using a matte top coat on your nails, apply a glossy one to give them shine and make them glossy again.

4. Use base coats differently. A base coat can be used under gel polish for the traditional look, but it can also be used over gel polish for touch ups on a growing out manicure (with new gel polish over the base coat).

5. Use a clear gel polish as a top coat over any nail color instead of regular topcoat for longer lasting wear.

6. Add glitter! Glitter is all the rage this season and it’s easy to achieve with glitter gels that do all the work for you (instead of layering loose glitter), or

If you’ve ever had a shellac manicure, you know just how amazing it is. The color goes on smooth and shiny, and stays chip-free for weeks at a time. But as great as gel polish is, we can all agree that going to the nail salon once a week can get expensive! Luckily, there are now several options that allow you to do your shellac manicure at home.

If you’re looking to try gel polish at home, here are 10 of our favorite tutorials!

What tools do I need?

The first decision you have to make is what type of gel polish system you want to use. If you want a professional-looking manicure that lasts for weeks at a time, UV gel polish is the way to go. However, if your goal is to try shellac fairly inexpensively and quickly, LED gel polish is the best option.

UV Gel Polish System: In order to use UV gel polish, you will need a UV lamp like this one from Gelish or this one from Red Carpet Manicure. You will also need all of the usual nail supplies (base coat, top coat, etc.) as well as a nail buffer and lint-free pads for cleaning your nails

I’ve been a manicurist for a decade now and I love the gel polish system. The polish lasts for weeks and doesn’t chip. The color stays true, it’s so shiny, and it has a lot of wearability. My clients just love it!

That is, most of them love it. A few have asked if they could use the gel polish at home. I don’t recommend this to my clients; I’m not sure how well gel polish would work without the UV light we use in salons. But if you decide to try it, here are some tips:

1.Gel polishes need to be applied in a certain way. If your first coat is too thick or you put on too much pressure when applying the top coat, your nail won’t be smooth and shiny like mine are when you leave my salon.

2.You may not get the same results using an LED light as you do with a UV light. You also might have trouble getting the gel off of your nails in a way that leaves your nails healthy and undamaged at home as we are able to do in our salon.

3.You should always be careful about introducing chemicals into your body; that’s why I have such good ventilation in my

If you love the look of gel nails, but don’t want to shell out money for a salon visit each time, we have a solution. Thankfully, you can use traditional nail polish with a little help from the right top coat. Simply apply two coats of your favorite polish and then use Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat to seal it in place. You can also try other gel top coats like Essie Gel Setter or OPI Axxium Gel System.

If you’re looking for a truly at-home solution that won’t require any special equipment, try using Elmer’s glue as a base coat on bare nails. Once your color has dried, apply another thin layer of glue and let that dry completely. When you are ready to remove the polish, simply peel it off!

No matter which method you choose, be sure to apply thin coats rather than one thick one so your polish dries faster and more evenly. And you can skip the UV light; this is all about getting the same look without having to sit under those bulbs for hours!

1. Know what to expect from a gel manicure.

Gel manicures typically last longer than regular polish because the gel formula is made to stick better to nails. The gel also sets under a UV light, which helps the polish dry faster (and makes it less likely for your nails to chip). Although no one seems to be able to agree on exactly how long gel polish should last, most sources claim that it can stay chip-free for up to two weeks.

2. Decide if a gel manicure is right for you.

Because of the high-intensity light used in a salon, women who are pregnant or have Lupus should not get gel manicures. (In fact, the FDA has asked that the lights include warning labels.) And while they are not proven carcinogens, some people worry about possible skin cancer risks of UV exposure from these lights. There are also concerns about damaging nails with repeated use of gel manicures, so many women opt for “gel breaks” between manicures to give their nails time to recover.

3. Buy your own gel polish kit.

Salon treatments can cost around $30, but you can buy your own kit online for much less and achieve similar results at home: SensatioNail Gel

A gel manicure is the best thing ever to happen to nails. It is a long-lasting, high-gloss manicure that lasts up to two weeks and is instantly dry when done. The only catch? You need to go to the salon to get one–until now! Follow these steps for a DIY gel manicure at home.

Step 1: Prep Your Nails

Apply cuticle oil to your cuticles, then push them back using a cuticle pusher. Then, clip and file your nails into the desired shape (our favorite is squoval).

Step 2: Buff Your Nails

Gently buff your nails using a four-sided buffer until they are shiny. Then cleanse with nail polish remover. This small step will ensure that you’re starting with a clean palette, which allows for better adhesion of the gel polish and helps prevent chipping.

Step 3: Prime Your Nails

Apply a thin layer of primer onto your nails (we love Orly Bonder). Allow it to dry completely before moving onto the next step. The primer will help the polish adhere to your nail while increasing durability and shine.

Step 4: Apply Base Coat

Apply one layer of base coat, going in between each cuticle

When I was a little girl, my mom would paint my nails. She always did a terrible job. I remember she would pull the skin on my fingers so tight to get the nail polish close to the cuticle, and it made me cringe. As soon as I could, I started painting my own nails. And now, I’m passing that same tradition on to my daughter.

When she was about two years old, she asked me if I could paint her nails with pink “shiny stuff” like mine. So, I painted them for her. The next time we went shopping, she asked for her own bottle of nail polish and from then on she has been obsessed with having her nails painted whenever possible. We have “mommy-daughter” pedicures at home, and we give each other manicures before big events (like birthdays!).

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