At Home Gel Nail Polish: Tutorial + Tips

Posted on July 17, 2012


Happy Tuesday!

With so much talk about gel nail polish, I decided to check it out for myself. In today’s post, I’ll provide a step by step tutorial, some best practices, and the pros and cons on gel nail polish.

Step by Step:

  1. Prepare your nails. Cut, file down to desired length, and clean/push back your cuticles. Once you’re done cleaning your nails, apply the bonder. The bonder basically removes any oils on your nail so that the basecoat can bond to your nail. {Tip: A clean nail bed will help your gel polish last weeks.}
  2. Apply the basecoat and cure under LED lamp for 30 seconds. {Tip: Take your time to apply without getting any on your skin or cuticles.} The LED lamp can fit up to 4 fingers at a time, so I recommend applying and curing your nails in 3 groups.
    -1st group: Pinky, ring, middle and index finger on my right hand.
    -2nd group: Pinky, ring, middle and index finger on my left hand.
    -3rd group: Both thumbs.
  3. Apply your gel polish and cure for 30 seconds. Apply a second coat and cure again if you’d like 2 coats of polish. {Tip: I know I sound like a broken record… but don’t get any polish on your skin or cuticle!}
  4. Apply the topcoat and cure for 30 seconds. Your nails will be sticky/tacky. Just take a cotton pad and rubbing alcohol (or if you’re like me and don’t have rubbing alcohol… Vodka works too) to wipe your nails clean.

Helpful Tips:

  • Take the time to prepare your nails and cuticles. This will help your gel polish stick to your nails.
  • Between each step, don’t touch your nails. Your nails will be tacky and touching them will get imprints on them.
  • I can’t emphasize this enough: Don’t get any of the basecoat, gel polish, and topcoat on your cuticles and skin around your nails. Getting the base/top coat or gel polish on your skin/cuticles may allow oil, dirt, and other debris to get in under your polish which may cause chips and peeling. :(

Pros and Cons:

  • Cost: I haven’t tried other gel polish systems, but I was quite happy with NaiLuv! I initially planned on getting Sephora’s OPI gel nail system, but couldn’t believe how expensive it was: $159 plus $17.50 per color! The NaiLuv gel system costs $50 plus $11.99 per color. Gel nails cost about $30-$40 per set… so NaiLuv basically pays for itself with just 2 sets!
  • Long lasting: I now understand why people are crazy for gel nails! When done properly, they last F.O.R.E.V.E.R! I removed my polish after 1.5 weeks only because I wanted to change my polish color. I typically change my polish at least twice a week, so 1.5 weeks was forever and a day for me. If you don’t change your polish often, gel nails are perfect for you! Your nails can stay perfectly manicured for up to 2 weeks. Personally, I’m excited to have gel nails for events, weekend getaways and even longer vacations. I no longer have to worry about chipped nail polish halfway through my vacation!
  • Colors: There are 36 different colors available with NaiLuv. I chose a neutral color so that the nail growth wouldn’t be too apparent.
  • Shine: Nails were super shiny even without a separate top coat!
  • Strong: My natural nails tend to break and peel, but with gel nails… they were so strong! Gel nails are great if your nails need some heavy duty armor while growing out!
  • Ease: It was pretty easy to apply. On my first try, it took me about 30 minutes from start to finish.
  • Removal: Honestly, removal was challenging even though I followed NaiLuv‘s instructions. But don’t worry!~ I gossiped with some nail experts and I’ve got some great tricks to easily remove gel polish! I’m excited to share my tips with you, so please stay tuned for that tutorial!

Here are the 36 NaiLuv colors. Which colors would you like to try?!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments section below. I’ll be sharing my gel nail removal tutorial soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Are you interested in gel nails?! Let me know which colors you’d like to try out!

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