Get my top at home gel manicure tips for a beautiful, long-lasting finish that truly lasts!
There’s nothing like a fresh manicure to lift your spirits. It’s a small act of self-care that can better your day and your beauty routine!
With modern beauty products and innovative formulas, we don’t have to plan a spa visit for a long-lasting manicure anymore.
With the right products and a few tricks, you can enjoy a flawless manicure from the comfort of your own home!
I love doing my manicure at home using gel polishes because it gives you professional-looking results without having to visit the salon.
In this post, I’m sharing my best at home gel manicure tips to help you achieve a gorgeous manicure, even on your first try.
I’m also including my top recommendations for at home gel manicure kits for the best results possible.
Benefits of an at home Gel Manicure
There are so many benefits to trying at home gel manicures! Here are just a few:
- Convenient – We all have busy lives, and setting aside the time to visit the nail salon doesn’t always fit your schedule. You can achieve a convenient manicure anytime you have the chance, right at home!
- Meditative – Doing your own nails can be a relaxing, meditative process. Make regular manicures a part of your beauty routine as a way to unwind.
- Creative – A home manicure is a fun way to let your creativity shine, experimenting with color, nail shape, and finish. Plus, you can change up your polish color as often as you’d like without having to book an appointment.
- Cost-effective – While you may spend more up-front for supplies, DIY gel nails are a lot less expensive in the long run, especially if you get your nails done often.
- Looks beautiful – Gel polish has a seamless, glossy finish that looks good on everyone, from long to short nails.
- Long-lasting – While traditional polish might only last a day or two before chipping, gel polish has amazing staying power. It can last for up to three weeks without needing a change!
10 at home Gel Manicure Tips
Perfect your mani with my top at home gel manicure tips! With a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll be doing your own gel manicure in no time.
1. Develop Your Kit
The first step to a gorgeous gel manicure is to gather your supplies. Every one of these products is essential in the process!
Some basic products to purchase include:
- Nail lamp (UV lamp or LED Lamp)
- Gel polishes (Gel colors + base coat and top coat)
- Cuticle pusher and trimmer
- Nail buffer
- Nail file
- Cotton pads
- Pure acetone nail polish remover
- Nail clippers
- Cuticle oil
- Nail cleanser
2. Invest in Quality Materials
One of the best indicators that you’ll achieve a nail-tech-quality manicure at home is using high-quality materials.
The right tools will provide ease of use, lasting results, and a beautiful finish that bargain brands just can’t offer.
Investing in quality materials upfront will save you the headache, as well as replacement costs down the line.
3. Perfect Your Base
Before you apply your nail polish, you’ll want a solid base. This will make your polish last longer and your manicure look better!
Begin by removing any old polish you have. Then, trim your nails with nail clippers and file them to your desired shape.
Next, soak your hands in warm water to soften your cuticles, then push them back gently. You can also trim any excess skin at this point.
Buff your nails using a buffing block, then wipe them down with a cotton pad soaked in nail cleanser for ultra-clean nails.
4. Layer Your Polish
Nail polish should be applied patiently in thin layers, allowing ample time for the curing process under UV light (or LED light).
Begin by applying a gel base coat over the entire nail and curing your nails under your lamp.
Next, apply an even layer of color. Apply just enough color coats to achieve an even finish, remembering to cure the polish between every coat.
Finally, apply a gel top coat and cure to seal!
Remember to bring each layer of polish to the very end of your nail, capping the tip for a finished appearance.
5. Cleanse and Hydrate
Your next step is to care for your fresh mani, ensuring long-lasting wear!
Gently wipe down your nails with a bit of nail cleaner. Then, apply a bit of cuticle oil over your fingers to keep your skin nice and hydrated.
6. Avoid Water
While gel nail polishes are a lot more resilient than traditional polish, they’re not invincible.
Try to avoid water contact for a few hours after your manicure – gel polish can be sensitive right after application.
7. Treat With Care
With all the love and attention you’ve given your nails so far, you’ll want to keep your manicure lasting as long as possible.
To prolong your mani’s life, avoid long baths and showers that could lift the gel polish.
You’ll also want to be gentle on your hands, wearing gloves during chores or outdoor labor that could scratch your nails.
Also, ensure you moisturize every night. Dry dead skin can damage your cuticles – and nails!
I love this Necessaire hand cream. It’s a barrier treatment for the skin that includes 5 ceramides, 5 peptides, niacinamide and marula butter / marula oil help reverse dryness, treat loss of volume and recover brittle cuticles for younger-looking hands. Ideal for the day, it’s fast-absorbing and non-greasy. Read more about Necessaire in my detailed Necessaire Reviews,
8. Refresh Your Manicure
You want your gel manis to shine through the weeks, not just on the first few days.
Don’t be afraid to refresh your nails with another layer of polish.
Simply apply a layer of top coat from base to nail tip and cure as usual. This will prolong your manicure’s lifespan and keep it looking shiny and new!
9. Practice Proper Removal
To protect your nails from damage and prep them for your next gorgeous manicure, you’ll want to remove your gel polish carefully.
For gel polish, regular nail polish remover won’t cut it.
Instead, soak cotton balls in pure acetone and place one on each nail. Then, wrap your fingers in a bit of tin foil and allow them to soak.
Removal time will vary based on the polish, so make sure to follow the instructions on your gel polish.
After they’ve set, remove all materials and begin removing the gel polish with a cuticle stick.
Give your hands a good wash and follow normal procedures for your next manicure!
One of the things that I do not like about at home manicures is the time it takes to remove the gel polish. Lately, I’ve been using Manicurist which comes off in seconds! The manicure lasts about 7-10 days without chipping but it’s so quick to take off.
10. Take Maintenance Breaks
Over-using gel polish, no matter how careful you are, can cause damage to the nail bed and nail plate over time.
It’s a good idea to give your natural nails a bit of breathing room, taking a break between every few gel manicures.
Best At Home Gel Manicure Kits
There are so many great DIY manicure kits on the market, with everything you need to achieve a salon-quality gel manicure!
Here are my top picks:
Manicurist – The Starter Kit
This starter kit has all the essentials for a Green Flash LED gel polish alternative system, with a free bag to hold everything in! Manicurist polishes last 7-10 days but the removal is complete in seconds (my favorite perk of this option).
This starter set includes a base coat, top coat, acetone-free remover, LED Lamp, 5 colors of choice and a free organic cotton travel bag. The travel lamp has a foldable design for easy travel.
Use my code NAILSLORNA to get 15% off your Manicurist purchase.
Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit
The mini macaron nail lamps are too cute.
While you can only cure one nail at a time, this gel kit is perfect for travel because of its compact size. Plus, they make great gifts!
Mani Me Nail Designs
As an alternative to curing a gel manicure at home, I love using Mani Me stick on gel nails. They can be customized to your nails or you can get the standard sizes. They last me up to 2 weeks with the correct application.
I love all the different designs that you can choose from that would cost so much if you went to the salon. Read all the details in my Mani Me Review.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the questions I get asked most about my at home gel manicure tips.
How long does an at home gel manicure last?
As opposed to the short lifespan of regular polish, a DIY gel manicure should last a minimum of two to three weeks. Manicurist is the only one that will last about 7-10 days without chipping as it’s an alternative to gel polish.
This lifespan also depends on your application, prep work, and how well you take care of your manicure.
Can I use regular nail polish and gel polish together?
It is not recommended for you to use regular polish with gel polish.
While you could technically add a layer of regular polish over your gel manicure, the finish likely won’t be seamless.
You’re better off removing your gel polish and starting from the top!
Does gel polish damage your nails?
In short terms, no. In broader terms, it’s complicated!
Over-using gel polish can weaken your nails over time. In addition, improper nail care can cause damage.
To protect your nails, don’t skip steps to save time. Also, remember to give your nails maintenance breaks after every few applications to maintain nail health.
With that, you should have everything you need to create beautiful at home gel manicures as often as you’d like!
I hope you use these tips to perfect your beauty routine and inspire your next manicure.
If you have any remaining questions about at home gel manicures, nail care, or all things beauty, feel free to reach out via email or Instagram. I’d love to help!