Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way in doing my own gel nails at home. I primarily use Red Carpet Manicure and Gelish mini. RCM you can purchase from ULTA online, or in store. Gelish mini is sold at Sally Beauty Supply.
My first tip is to look online for swatches. To be honest the swatches on the companies websites are way off, for the most part. Especially if the polish is not a creme formula.
When I purchase new gel polish, I have done my homework and looked online for swatches. I also always will open the polish in store to see if I still like the look. You can’t judge the final manicure look by the color on the bottle.
It’s a great idea to invest in a starter kit by Red Carpet Manicure or Gelish. That way you can have each product you need, the light (I recommend an led light, not a mini one finger light.) and clear instructions. Make sure you read through the steps a few times, watch the dvd your kit came with, look up videos on youtube. After you are familiar with the products and what steps to use them in, it’s time to get started!
The first time you do your gel mani, be prepared to take an hour or two. You will be slower at first, but the more manis you do, the faster and better you will get!
I can’t stress enough the importance of using a thin, even coat of the gel base/foundation product. Don’t flood your cuticles, or you will have lifting in a few days. Make sure to cap the free edge of the nail, even if your nails are short. I keep my nails short, and just wipe all around the edge before I cure. To make sure you don’t have any base/foundation coat on your skin, you can wipe around the edge with a nail art brush soaked in alcohol, use an orange stick or a clean nail.
Some colors are not as opaque as you’d like. I find this a lot with purple shades. Or most any dark color really! For the second coat of colored gel polish, hold your brush parallel to your nail bed when you apply. By holding the brush flat like this, you will avoid wiping or moving any of the first coat, even though it’s been cured.
If you are doing nail art with tape, you can do this immediately after curing the top coat. No waiting required! After you have done the tape nail art, you can top with another coat of the gel topcoat, or use a standard topcoat.
You can use your regular nail polishes with a gel base/foundation coat. Cure the gel coat, then polish with regular polish. You must let each layer dry on its own until it’s completely dry. When you have the look you want, apply the gel top coat and cure. I’ve found this is not quite as durable as a full gel cured mani, but it’s a great way to use your standard non gel colors, while having the strength of a gel mani.
I remove my gels about the same way you would remove any stubborn glitter polish. First, you need to lightly buff the top of your nails to break the gel seal. Then you take a piece of cotton (I actually use tiny squares of felt) soaked in acetone, place it on top of the nail and wrap foil around the nail. The gel polish will come off after 10-15 minutes and some gentle scraping with an orange stick.
My ultimate guide for gel/glitter/texture polish removal can be found here
I hope this helps for anyone that is new to at home led cured gel nails. I am absolutely obsessed with how strong my manis are and how long they last! If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!
Gelish mini collection swatches can be found Here