12 Hacks For Gel Nails: Tips And Tricks For A Perfect Manicure

Key Takeaways
  • Gel nail polish provides a durable and vibrant color that lasts longer than traditional nail polish, often for two weeks or more.
  • While you can apply gel nail polish at home, many people opt for professional nail salons for precise and even application to achieve the best results.
  • Removing gel nail polish can be more involved, often requiring soaking and gentle scraping to avoid damaging your natural nails.

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to apply your favorite regular polish only to discover it’s already chipped before you leave the house.

Opting for gel polish is the perfect solution.

10 Must-Know Hacks For Gel Nail Polish Beginners

For beginners, the art of achieving  beautiful gel polish nails at home can be a little tricky. The art of gel polish perfection takes a bit of practice.

However, the finished look and long-lasting benefits make gel polish well worth the effort.

You don’t want to look like your 3-year-old sister helped you with your makeup routine.

Should you be a gel polish newbie, this guide is a must-read. We’ve compiled the 12 must-know hacks all gel polish beginners should know.

Before You Get Started

  • Start with clean, dry nails. Remove old nail polish and shape your nails to your desired length and style.
  • Apply a robust and durable base coat to protect your natural nails and help the gel polish adhere better.
  •  When applying gel polish, use thin layers to avoid uneven and thick results. Cure each layer properly under a UV or LED lamp.
  • Keep the gel polish away from your cuticles to prevent lifting and chipping.
  • Seal gel nails with a high-quality top coat for added shine and protection.

Check out the key facts about gel polish and learn the essential steps for achieving salon-worthy gel nails in the comfort of your own home. By the time you’ve read this guide, you will be a gel nail pro. 

1. What Is Gel Nail Polish?

Gel nail polish should be considered as a nail polish upgrade. Formulated with acrylic monomers and oligomers that fuse together and instantly harden when placed under an LED or UV light source.

The game-changing process is referred to in the beauty industry as ‘curing’. The ‘curing’ technique turns the liquid-gel formula hard in a matter of seconds.

10 Must-Know Hacks For Gel Nail Polish Beginners

This highly sought-after method solves all the painstaking issues that arise with using a regular polish. The application of gel polish means no drying time, chips, and hassle.

Furthermore the formula is resistant to chemicals and your much-loved nail art will stay in place (even after you have cleaned your house). Yay!

Gel polish manicures are offered at most beauty salons. Since appearing on the beauty scene, they remain as  one of the most requested beauty services worldwide.

The reason for their success is that unlike regular lacquers, the gel polish has the staying power of a superhero.

No matter where your day takes you, your gel polish won’t let you down. Gel polish application has become accessible for all beauty fans.

The beauty industry tapped into our global obsession for gel nails and provided us with tools and kits to create the ultimate salon-worthy finish at home. 

If you are a gel nail beginner, here is everything you need to get the gel manicure of your dreams.

Quick Hacks for Gel Nails Guide: Achieve Perfect Gel Manicures at Home

  • Gel Nail Hacks: Extend the life of your gel manicure by avoiding contact with harsh chemicals and using cuticle oil regularly.
  • Perfect Application: Use a steady hand and light strokes to achieve even, salon-quality results with gel nail polish.
  • Quick-Drying Tips: Cure each layer under a UV or LED lamp for the recommended time to ensure your gel nails dry and harden properly.
  • Removal Made Easy: When it’s time to change, soak gel nails in acetone to gently lift and remove the polish without damaging your natural nails.

2. What You Will Need For Applying Gel Nail Polish At Home

Deciding on a DIY gel mani is a great idea, particularly for avid beauty fanatics who love to switch up their look on a regular basis. But to get those insta-worthy nails, you need to go shopping.

A gel nail kit is a good starting point for deciding if it is a process worthy of your time. For those who know, love and want to be a gel-nail professional, these are the supplies you need to buy:

1. An LED or UV lamp 
2. Nail buff
3. Cuticle oil
4. Base coat
5. Gel polish
6. Top coat

Preparation Is key 

Nail prepping is a vital step for achieving ultimate gel nail goals. Just like anything in life, begin wrong, and you can guarantee failure.

3. Trim And File Nails As Needed

Before you even think about unscrewing the lid of your polish, your nails need to be in the perfect condition.

Prepare your nails the same way you would for a normal mani. This means trimming the nails, so they are equal in length.

Next, take your emery board and file away pesky jagged edges. Once your nails look equal and even, you can move on to the next step.

4. Cuticle Oil And Buffing

Many people overlook this step, but using cuticle oil makes life so much easier. Apply your cuticle oil to the nail bed, This will soften them, thus allowing your cuticles to be pushed back with ease.

Just remember to remove all traces of the cuticle oil before attempting to add any polish. If you don’t remove the oil completely, your gel nails will not be affixed with the cement-like abilities, and you may find they start to lift.

Next on the list is nail buffing. Do this to remove any excess natural oils. Buffing for a couple of minutes will significantly increase the life expectancy of your gel nails.

Keep In Mind

  • Quality Products: Invest in high-quality gel nail polish and curing lamps for the best results and longevity.
  • Nail Health: Prioritize nail health using cuticle oil and avoid excessive filing or buffing.
  • Avoid Moisture: Keep your nails dry and avoid prolonged water exposure to prevent lifting and chipping.
  • Precision Matters: Take your time during application to ensure a smooth gel nail finish.
  • Proper Removal: When ready for a new manicure, use the right techniques and avoid peeling or scraping to protect your natural nails.

5. Apply Your Base Coat Liberally

Just like applying your facial base or primer, you should use a base coat for your nails. A base coat provides a clear canvas for you to create flawless gel nail art. Make sure you apply a good amount of gel base coat to ensure optimal results.

Apply and then dry (cure) them under your lamp for about 30 – 40 seconds.

6. Choose Your Color Wisely

Gel-based polishes are awesome for achieving polish that will not budge. Not so great if you hate the color.

10 Must-Know Hacks For Gel Nail Polish Beginners (1)

Make sure your color selection is perfect, or you may be kicking yourself (and buying gloves) for longer than you’d care to admit. 

7. Apply Gel Polish And Top Coat

Once you have chosen your color(s), go ahead and apply. Apply in thin layers. Don’t forget to dry under your LED lamp between each coat. Keep going until you get an irresistible, non-transparent finish.

The last step is in painting on your top coat. Only apply one layer of your gel top coat and don’t skip curing them under your UV light for 30 seconds. Et voila – Instagram-ready nails.

8. Preventing Nail Damage

Any polish can weaken nails. Unhealthy nails can trigger  breakage, peeling and thinning.To make sure you keep your nails in tip-top health and conditions, give them a recovery time between applications so they can repair.

While it may be tempting,never pick at your polish or try to prize it away. This will damage nails significantly. 

Hot water is a gel polish’s’ arch enemy. Therefore, take care when having hot baths or using hot water.

Pro Tip

Apply thin, even layers of gel polish to avoid a bulky or uneven finish, ensuring a long-lasting and beautiful manicure.

9. Gel Polish Ingredients

When buying gel polish, there are 3 harmful ingredients you need to avoid. Never use products that contain formaldehyde, toluene, or DPB. These toxic components were frequent additions to nail polishes until recently.

Nail polishes are mostly formulated without them now.

10. Removing Your Gel Nail Polish (With Minimal Damage)

If you apply the gel polish correctly, removing it is a breeze. To remove your polish you must soak them in an acetone solution. Once you have removed your polish, apply an emollient to ensure you give your nails optimal nourishment and TLC.

11. Use Petroleum Jelly for Easy Cleanup

Image by @vaselineindia via Instagram

Before you start your gel polish application, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the skin around your nails, including your cuticles. Make sure to avoid getting any on your actual nail surface.

As you apply the gel polish, any accidental smudges or excess polish that gets on the petroleum jelly will not adhere to your skin.

Once you’ve finished applying and curing the gel polish layers, use a wooden cuticle stick or an orange stick to remove the petroleum jelly and any stray polish gently.

It leaves you with clean and polished nails and minimizes the need for extensive cleanup or acetone-soaked cotton swabs.

Petroleum jelly acts as a barrier, making achieving a clean and professional-looking gel manicure easier without the hassle of post-application cleanup.

12. Use White Nail Polish as Base Coat

Using white nail polish as a base coat when working with gel nail polish can be a game-changing technique, especially when dealing with sheer or light-colored gel polishes. Here’s why it’s effective:

White nail polish acts as a canvas, creating a blank, opaque surface for your gel polish to adhere to.

It is particularly advantageous when working with gel polishes that are sheer or have a translucent quality, as they can sometimes appear uneven or less vibrant when applied directly to the natural nail.

Applying a thin layer of white nail polish as your base coat can enhance the color intensity and ensure that your gel polish appears true to its bottle color.

It also helps smooth out imperfections or discolorations on your natural nails, creating a flawless foundation for your gel manicure.

First, use this technique to ensure that your nails are clean and dry.

Apply a thin layer of white nail polish as your base coat, then cure it under your UV or LED lamp according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After that, apply your chosen gel nail polish color and topcoat as usual.

Using white nail polish as a base coat can make a significant difference in the vibrancy and consistency of your gel nail color, allowing you to achieve professional-quality results at home.

Did you know?

Gel nail polish was initially developed in the 1980s to provide a long-lasting and chip-resistant alternative to traditional nail polish.

Final Thoughts

DIY gel nails are a great way to have flawless looking and gorgeous nails all the time. They never fail to impress. However, it is important to ensure your nails stay healthy too.

Keeping them hydrated by drinking water, giving them a break between applications and using emollients will go a long way to keeping them in tip-top condition.

If you love nail art and want the salon-worthy results without a monthly visit to the salon, mastering the at-home technique is the ideal solution for you.

Ariel Coleman

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