How To Do Gel Nails At Home

Are you tired of not being able to get an appointment with your favorite nail artist? Or maybe you are tired of shuffling around your plans all for a nail appointment? It might be worthwhile considering doing your own nails.

The idea of doing gel nails at home may be intimidating but with products and kits accessible doing your nails by yourself has never been easier.

For those that need a flexible option or that need to save money, the DIY route is sure to benefit you. This guide will help prepare you for doing your gel nails at home as well as giving useful tips on how to make your gel nails last longer and more.

Get Nails At Home


Having the right tools will set you up for success when doing your gel nails at home by yourself. There are a number of necessary tools that you will need to get before you begin this process.

  • Nail Scissors or Clippers
  • Nail FIle
  • Nail Buffer
  • Cuticle Stick
  • Cuticle Oil
  • Cotton Pads
  • Cotton buds
  • Acetone
  • Gel Polish – Base Coat, Colored Polish and a Top Coat
  • UV Light (depending on if your polish is UV cured or not)
  • Nail Brushes (depending on how intricate your designs will be)
  • Nail Stickers (for some extra glamor!)

While the list may seem extensive and costly it is all worth it to give you the independence of doing your nails by yourself.

You will make back what you spend in the money you will save from not going to a nail salon. Some well-known nail polish brands have gel polish kits specifically for at home use and they can often be less expensive than buying tools and polishes individually.


Now that you have all your tools you need to get ready to apply the gel polish.

How To Do Gel Nails At Home
  1. Choose an area with good lighting to apply the polish. We recommend having a desk and flat surface to place your hands as you paint your nails. You will also need an electrical socket nearby for your UV lamp if you are using one.
  2. Sanitize the area to keep your tools sanitary.
  3. Lay out your tools so that you do not need to leave your chair to go looking for things, which could lead to smudges on your nails.
  4. Choose the colors that you will be using as well as get your base coat and top coat ready for use. Also, lay out any stones or studs you may be applying as details to the nails. 
  5. Wash your hands before beginning to make sure there is no dirt under your nails.

Take the time to read through the technique before beginning if it is your first time doing gel nails at home by yourself. Preparation is key.

Now that you have all of that done, get your favorite music or podcast playing, relax and enjoy the process. 


  1. Cut and file your nails to the shape you want. Ensure you file your nails so that they are smooth along the edges to avoid any snags or tears. Strive to have all of your nails of equal length for the best, most professional look. 
  2. Apply cuticle oil and massage into the skin. Cuticle oil will make it easier to push back your cuticles without causing pain or breakage. Cuticle oil is also important for your general nail health. Wipe away any excess oil by wiping your nails with a cotton pad with acetone, this will remove any excess natural oils also.
  3. Gel nail polish needs a rough surface in order to stick to the nail. If you have smooth nails the polish will peel easily. Gently buff the nails from edge to edge and again wipe with a cotton pad with some acetone. 
  4. Take your base coat and apply it generously to the nails. If you are using a polish that needs to be cured by UV light, place your hands under the lamp for up to 30 seconds and then remove. Check your UV lamps instructions as the duration for curing may vary. If your polish is not UV cured, wait for it to dry. 
  5. Take your chosen colored polish and apply it to the nail. Repeat the curing process if necessary or wait for your nails to dry between each coat. Two coats is usually the recommended amount of coats. Wipe away any mistakes by taking a cotton bud with acetone.
  6. If you are embellishing your nails, this is your time to shine. Apply any stones or studs and cure under the lamp. You can attach stones and studs using clear gel nail varnish. 
  7. Apply your topcoat to the nails and cure for one last time. Often the final cure is for a longer duration of time, check the instructions for your UV light for more information regarding this. If your polish is not UV cured, wait for it to dry. 
  8. Add cuticle oil again to seal and to maintain nail health. 
DIY Nail

Top Tip

If it is your first time applying gel nail polish, apply petroleum jelly or a clear coat of regular nail varnish on the skin around your nail. This will make it easy to remove any mistakes that may happen.

How To Make Your Gel Nails Last

  1. Avoid soaking your nails in hot water, wear rubber gloves when washing up dirty dishes
  2. Apply cuticle oil and nail oil daily
  3. Apply additional coats of clear varnish to maintain shine and avoid chips
  4. File away any snags that may occur immediately to avoid the nail from tearing further

Benefits Of Doing Gel Nails At Home

Doing your own gel nails at home can have many benefits that in turn benefit your bank account and allow you to reclaim your time. 

  1. Doing your own gel nails means you can do your nails on your schedule as opposed to a nail artist’s schedule and availability as well as salon opening hours. Nail salons are often extremely busy and trying to get an appointment at a time that suits you can be difficult. By doing it yourself you can do your nails as and when it suits you.
  2. While it may be costly to buy the right kits in the beginning this will pay off in the long run as you won’t need to pay professional fees every two to four weeks.
  3. You have more control over the style, shape, and design you have on your nails. Nails can be extremely personal and if you struggle to find an artist that gives you the finished look that you are longing for then doing it yourself may be the right thing for you. 
  4. YOu can decide whether you want to use a UV light or not. In salons, all gel polishes are cured by a UV light which can be damaging over time. By doing your own nails you can get self-curing gel polishes which eliminate the need for a UV lamp. 

Cons Of Doing Your Gel Nails At Home

While doing your own nails has a lot of benefits there are unfortunately a number of cons also. 

  1. If you struggle to learn the technique you could be causing damage to your natural nails with each attempt. Be patient when learning to avoid this from happening.
  2. You may not be able to achieve the desired look or design you are hoping for. Nail artists spend years learning how to master these techniques and how to paint on intricate designs.
  3. The tools you have access to may not be salon standard and they may cause damage when used incorrectly.

Final Thoughts

What you put in is what you will get out when it comes to doing your gel nails at home by yourself. If you do not prepare your nails correctly, have the correct tools, or take the time to learn the correct technique it is best that you go to a salon.

If you are happy to take the time to do the above and enjoy the process then doing gel nails at home by yourself is perfect for you. Enjoy expressing yourself through your nails and have fun learning new techniques and ways to design your nails. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Worthwhile Doing Your Nails By Yourself?

If you are willing to take the time to learn the proper at-home techniques then yes, it is worthwhile doing your nails by yourself as it is cheaper than going to the nail salon every two to four weeks. 

Is Gel Or Dip Easier To Do At Home?

While both gel or dip can be applied to your nails at home, learning the right technique to dip your nails can take longer than learning how to correctly apply gel nail polish.

One benefit of dipping at home is that the powder is more hygienic as it is only used on your nails rather than countless other clients at a nail salon. 

Can You Do Gel Nails At Home Without UV Light?

It is possible to buy non-UV gel polishes which would be suitable for at-home use in the absence of a UV light.

If you are concerned about your skin aging or becoming damaged by UV light this is also a good option. Most gel polishes will state on the label whether they can be cured without UV light. 

Do Gel Nails Ruin Your Natural Nails?

Without proper maintenance and care, gel nails can cause damage to your natural nail. Natural nails can become brittle, crack and break making it difficult to grow them to be a substantial base for gel nails.

To keep your nails healthy apply cuticle oil, nail oil and take frequent breaks from gel nails so your natural nails have time to repair. 

Is Shellac Nail Polish The Same As Gel Polish?

Shellac is a hybrid nail polish as it is a combination of regular nail polish and gel nail polish.

It has the same shine and easy application as regular nail polish while having the durability and color payoff that is common in gel nail polishes.