Nail it!! How To Do Gel Nails @ Home!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gel Nails 101

I first discovered gel nails back in October 2010. I was getting married and I wanted natural looking nails that lasted so the nail technician suggested gel nails. Gel nails simply put, come from a special type of nail polish which drys hard and lasts up to three weeks without chipping. For a more in depth description check out : Gel nails dry like acrylics but do not involve any grinding of the real nail and no fills every two weeks! A gel nail manicure runs about $28.00 in Los Angeles, but  does last up to three weeks. That alone is not a bad deal!! However, being the Thriftychicista  I am, I still cannot justify spending almost $30.00 on a manicure. I decided that I could administer my own gel manicures so, I set out on a mission to find all the tools involved. I have a very longstanding relationship with eBay, so that was my first stop!! I googled all the  how-to’s of gel nails and figured out exactly how the pros do it. First I would need a UV nail dryer (Gel nails only set with UV or LED lights). There are tons of UV lights on eBay and I opted for a higher wattage one with 36 watts. I paid $15.00 and got free shipping!! I then needed the actual gel nail polish which I also found on eBay. There are a variety of gel nail polishes being sold, I purchased two different types that were very inexpensive and neither of them worked very well. I then opted for the name brand polish “Gelish” which is what a lot of nail salons use. I paid $17.99 with free shipping for one 0.5 fl. oz. Of gel nail polish.. pretty steep, but still cheaper than the $28.00 I would pay for someone else to do it.  I paid a total of $33.00 for all my supplies and I will be able to get at least 20 manicures out of it!!



My pictures do not do justice to this beautiful manicure!! Trust me this is an amazing invention!!

What you need to get started:
1. UV nail lamp -Here is where I bought mine: (

2.  Gel Nail Polish – I bought mine on eBay, but you can find it at beauty supply houses too. (

3. Standard manicure set - clippers, nail file etc..

4. Clear nail polish - I prefer Rimmel London because I love the unique brush design

5. Time - give yourself about a half hour so you’re not rushing through the process

Here is a link of a How-To Video for gel nails: 

Tips & Tricks:
1. A lot of the how to sites suggest buying top and base gel polishes, but those can run very expensive as well. So far I only use the UV gel colored polish and put a regular clear top coat on and it works pretty well. (Perhaps I will look into the additional Clear gels as well)
2. I find it best not to put too thick of a coat on because it will crinkle while drying and leave an undesirable texture… no bueno!!
3. I like to dry my nails longer than suggested. If I only dry my nails for the suggested time they remain sticky and smudge.
4. Every girl knows that painting your non-writing hand is hard so I suggest making a girls night of it!! Invite over a couple girlfriends, grab a bottle of wine and paint each others nails!! It is also great if each one of you buy a different color as to keep variety without one person having the whole financial burden!!
5. When they say “soak off” they mean you have to seriously soak these nails off! They are pretty hard to get off without a strong acetone remover. Note of what NOT to do, I tried pulling them off, which you can do, but it totally ruins your real nails… so not suggested!
6. The gel nails work great for toes too!! I painted my toes and the pedicure lasted over a month!!

Let me know if you have any questions!!

If you want to read more about Gel nails, I have a newer post about "UV Free" Gel Polish too :) Feel free to check it out as well!!

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