Today’s topic is about doing your nails at home. Gel nails that is! I shared this on Instagram and so many were interested in hearing about my at home gel nails that I figured that many of you might be interested too.
Let me start by saying that my nails are in really bad condition. They’ve never really recovered from having acrylic nails on over 10 years ago. I wore them only for a year or two, but that was enough to ruin them forever. I made the mistake of letting them use those sanding drills on my nails, the drills that smooth out and remove the old acrylic to prepare for new. That drill is dangerous and will totally mess up your nail bed, so I would recommend to anyone to never do the drill!
I regret it all the time and wish I had never let it happen. I stopped acrylics early on and vowed to never do it again and I haven’t. My nails are still shot, they have ridges, the thumb nails will hardly grow, but split constantly from the nail bed growing out. And yes, I’ve tried Biotin for several months and it really didn’t make a difference in my nails. I have gotten gel nails at a local salon for special occasions and I really like how those wear. They are a lot easier on the nails than the old acrylics are. I’ve heard SNS is even better, although I haven’t tried that method at the salon yet. I might try it for a special occasion and see how I like it. I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about SNS and how gentle it is to the natural nails, but it’s still being a slave to the salon, which means time and money.
So, a few years ago, I started doing my own gel nails at home. I bought a smaller UV light from Walgreens and used the brand Sensationail. It was OK, but wasn’t perfect by any means. But gel nails with a light kit was the only thing that would stay on my nails. If I use regular polish it chips and peels within one day, so it’s not even worth it to me, so gel is my choice right now.
I’ve been using that same UV light for about 5 years and I also tried Gelaze gel polish too. It was better than the one from Walgreens, but I still wasn’t satisfied with it. Lauren, my niece, did some research and came up with the above LED light and OPI gel polishes from Amazon, so I did the same. I put this MiroPure LED light on my Christmas list and was so excited to get it.
Here’s my Amazon affiliate link below, if you’d like to check it out. Not saying that this one is any better than others, but it’s affordable and I have read LED might be better than UV, which was what my old light was. What I like also is that this light comes on automatically when you put your hand in. My exact gel lamp is not in stock, so this one is similar.
Also, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen on your hands when you use an LED or UV light. I haven’t been doing this, but I’m going to start! I’m not sure how dangerous this is, it doesn’t seem to be that bad from what I’ve read, but it’s not probably not great for your skin, so sunscreen would definitely help.
I also bought the Base coat and Top coat from OPI, as well as a couple of light colors. I really like white neutrals for most of the time and so that’s what I got. I might try a color one day too.
I shared a series of videos on Instagram when I was showing these products and doing my nails. I couldn’t actually video me painting my nails, but I showed the process and talked about the steps I took. So check those out under my Instagram Highlights (those little circles just under my profile and picture).
Here are some from Ebay that are less expensive, so you can check these colors too. I found my colors on Amazon originally for $10 each, but now I’m not finding those prices anymore. These links might not be good forever.
You’ll want to prep your nails first. It’s good to wipe them down with regular rubbing alcohol to take off the oils. I lightly sand my natural nails with that white buffer above to give the polish a little more tooth.
Steps for a Gel Manicure at Home:
Step 1: Wipe with alcohol and lightly buff nails.
Step 2: Use 1 Base coat. Cure 90 seconds.
Step 3: Use 2 coats of Color gel polish. Keep polish off cuticles by using an orange stick or edge of fingernail to remove. Cure 90 seconds between each coat.
Step 4: Use 1 Clear Top coat. Cure 90 seconds.
Step 5: Use a cotton pad with alcohol to remove the sticky haze that remains on the nails after curing under the lamp.
You’re now ready to go and your nails are completely hard and dry.
Keep in mind that this isn’t perfect. I need to work on my cuticles better in pushing them back and moisturizing them, but I’m really happy with the way my manicure looks. This color is Oh My Majesty, a pearly white that I really like. I bought one more called I Couldn’t Bare Less, but it was a little lighter and thinner and I like how opaque this one is. I’ve also heard Funny Bunny linked above is a good white too, looks like a French White. But, if you like color, just shop around on the OPI colors until you find what you like.
The main thing to keep in mind when you try doing gel nails at home is to keep it off your cuticles. If it gets on the cuticle, try to get it off before you put your nails under the light to cure. Any polish that gets on the cuticle not only looks bad, but it will make your polish lift a lot faster.
I’m definitely not a hand model, so keep that in mind, but I think this is a pretty good job of doing gel nails at home. With anything that’s new, doing your own nails at home might be a little strange at first, but I think anyone can learn to do their own nails. If you can polish with both hands, you’ll be fine. Or get someone to help you if you can’t do the right hand.
So, that’s it for today! I thought you all would enjoy seeing the process and products I’ve recently picked up for this task. It’s a little bit of a cost up front to get the LED light and the polishes, but once you get them, you can definitely save money over going to the salon. I don’t like the cost of a salon and so this works for me. I think most gel manicures are at least $25 to $30 a visit, so that adds up fast. It makes me feel better to have polish on my nails. I grew up painting my nails at home so am comfortable with the process. If you’ve never done that, then it might be more of a learning curve, but this OPI Gel polish goes on nice and smooth, the best I’ve ever used.
Taking Off the Gel Polish
I know you’re wondering how to get off gel polish, aren’t you? Well, it doesn’t come off with regular nail polish, you really have to either soak it off or peel it off (which is not good for your nails). I’ll be honest and admit that I usually peel off the old polish after about a week of wearing it. By then it’s starting to lift on me and it peels very easily. It does make the nail very dry if you peel it off, so I’m not saying I recommend that, but that’s what impatient me does! I pick and pick and the next thing I know, it’s all off!
The best way to get it off is to soak it off. That’s what they do in the salon. Put cotton pads on soaked with acetone on top of the polish to break it down and it should then scrape off pretty easily. I did buy these tips to help with that, as I’ve tried tin foil before with the cotton pads and it was messy and they didn’t stay on, so these are a good little tool to use on your nails to help with the soaking off of the polish. I’m going to start using them.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Is this something you’d try at home? I’d love to know how long yours stays on. I can only get about 7 days out of mine, but I’m hoping to make it last longer.