Gel Nails – At Home Guide

Gel nails can become a very expensive habit. So here’s all you need to know.

Gel nails – What’s the lowdown?

The product used to create gel is created using liquid monomer and polymer powder. All forms of gel require curing, or hardening, under a UV (ultraviolet) light, which can be either a conventional bulb or LED lamp.

Gels polish, on the other hand, come in nail polish shades, and are made hard by being cured under a UV or LED lamp.
Gel nails
Gel is applied to the real nail. It’s simply brushed onto the nail in three stages: a base coat, polish colour and topcoat, before being cured under an LED or UV lamp (depending on the brand). This process sets the gel solid with no sticky residue, creating a lovely shine with zero waiting time. Shellac is the brand name for a product made from both nail polish and gel. It’s applied straight to the nail and is available in many different colours.

How long do Gel nails last and how much do you cost?

The cost usually depends on the length, style and design you choose. The best part about gel manis is how long they last. Gels usually last 2-3weeks. If you have a bunch of events coming up back to back like intervies, internship, birthdats and holidays, gels can be the perfect solution because they last about two full weeks with zero chipping.

Gel nails

At-home gel kits last a bit longer than a regular manicure — maybe 10 days — but are definitely not salon quality. You have to follow the instructions to the last detail and have a pretty steady hand to get a perfect gel nail.
Gel nails

How to apply gel nail polish at home

1. Gather your kit together: nail polish remover, manicure set, gel base and top coat, gel cleanser, UV or LED lamp (depending on the brand you use) and gel colour polish

2. Use nail varnish remover to get rid of any previous nail polish

3. Use a cuticle softener to loosen the cuticles before carefully trimming them

4. Shape and trim the nail to the desired length and shape

5. Gently buff the nails to bring out their natural shine and prepare them for polish

6. Wash and dry your hands

7. Now apply one coat of base polish

8. Cure under the LED or UV lamp, following brand guidelines

9. Apply the colour polish and cure

10. Repeat

11. Wipe the nails with gel cleanser

12. Finish with a final coat of gel top coat and again cure under the LED or UV lamp, following brand guidelines

13. Enjoy your handy work!

Gel nails

If you want to save money and a trip to the salon, try taking them off yourself using the following tips.

  1. Place a cotton ball soaked in the remover on top of your nail.
  2. Wrap each nail in tinfoil.
  3. Wrap your hands in a hand towel

Depending on your gel, this can take 15 minutes to an hour. When the gel is crumbling or sliding off, gently use a rubber-ended cuticle pusher to clean the gel off of your nail bed (do not file or scrape nail). Never peel old gel polish from the nail as this can cause damage.


Some polishes include potential cancer-causing chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Read the ingredients label on the polish’s bottle or on the company’s website to avoid them.

There’s so much cutting and buffing and filing when it comes to a gel mani. Don’t increase your risk of infection by getting your cuticles cut instead ask to have them pushed back.