How To Do An At-Home Gel Mani: Same Gorgeous Nails at a Fraction of the Cost!
Recently, I shared a poll on Instagram asking if anyone would be interested in learning how to get a beautiful gel mani while saving some money in the long run, and the response was an overwhelming YES! So, today I am going to share with you how I do my gel manicures at home, how I came to find this alternative, and the equipment I use!
I have always loved painting my nails and trying out new trends! Sunday nights, I would set up my little at-home nail salon and try something new! As I got older, I wanted my nails to looks more professional and started getting gel manicures done on the regular at nail salons.
I kept up getting my nails done in college, but as a broke college student who was barely working, spending between $25-$35 a month that I basically didn’t have in the first place because an added expense I couldn’t keep up with. Fortunately, my best friend Kailey turned me on to doing gel manicures at home and the rest is history! I haven’t been to a salon for a manicure in almost 2 years!
Starting to do your gel manicures at home can be a little bit of an investment. But when you compare this to how much you shell out on mani/pedis each month, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in how much you’ll save!
Let me tell you about some the products you’ll want to invest in if you’re interested in DIY gel manis! Here’s How To Get Your Best At Home Gel Mani!
At Home Gel Mani: What You’ll Need
UV/LED Gel Lamp
A quality gel lamp is really the most important piece of the puzzle! You’re going to want to get a lamp that is a bit larger, big enough that you can put your whole hand in (or toes if you’re doing a pedicure). You’ll also want to make sure that the lamp you get has bulbs around the entire inside, rather than just on the top. This will ensure that every part of the nail is getting hit by blue light and all polish on the nail is being cured.
Pictured above is the lamp that I bought for only $19.99 on Amazon! You can find LOTS of other affordable options on Amazon. Click here to check mine out!
Gel Base/Top Coats and Gel Polish
Obviously, you’re going to need some polish to do your own gel manicure, but regular polish won’t do. You’ll need to get special gel polish that will cure (dry) under a UV/LED lamp, just like in the salon. Typically, you’ll know the difference between regular nail polish and gel polish because gel polish will not come in a clear or see-through bottle. The bottle will either be black or white, and you’ll have to open up the bottle in order to take a look at the actual color.
To start, you’ll need a gel base/top coat! There are two different type of top coat: wipe off and non-wipe off. I’ve used both, but personally, I like the non-wipe off better! I haven’t seen much of a difference in the two type, wipe off is just an extra step. I’m currently using base and top coats from the brand Beetles, which you can find here on Amazon! Only $7.99 for two big bottles (and they WILL last a long time)!
As far as polishes go, you can find lots of different brands in lots of different places! The top places I would recommend looking for gel polish would be Amazon, Sally Beauty Supply, Ulta, and honestly, scour your local T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s! I have found lots of random gel polishes in the last two, it’s usually hit or miss.
The majority of the gels that I currently have are from Amazon, and they are the brand Gellen. These gels come in packs of 6 smaller bottles, so you’re really getting the best bang for your buck. The 6 packs range in price from $15.99-17.99, or they have larger packs of 16 colors for $29.99. There are so many different color sets on Amazon, so there is something for everyone! I’ll link a set here!
Other Manicure Equipment
- Nail files
- Cuticle clippers
- Nail clippers
- Buff brush (if you’d like)
- Wooden nail sticks
- Nails design brushed
All of the above are manicure basics and can be found at a local drug store, or even cheap in a T.J. Maxx/Marshall’s. Trust me, you CAN give yourself a manicure at home!
How to Do An At-Home Gel Mani Yourself
- Soak your nails in some warm water to soften up your cuticles
- Push your cuticles back
- Clip cuticles
- Clip nails (if necessary)
- File nails
- Apply base coat, cure under lamp for 60 seconds
- Next, apply 1st coat of gel polish, cure under lamp for 30-60 seconds
- Then, apply 2nd coat of gel polish, cure under lamp for 30-60 seconds
- Apply top coat, cure under lamp for 90 seconds
- *If using a wipe off top coat, dab acetone on a cotton ball and wipe the nails clean
- BOOM. You did it.
It is THAT simple!!!
At-Home Gel Manicure Tips and Tricks
- When you are getting ready to paint, make sure your nails are clean and dry! Your polish will stay on longer!
- It’s better to keep your nails on the shorter/medium length side. Here’s why (and it’s pretty silly): scratching. Weird, right? If you’re anything like me, you scratch a little itch with your pointer finger, and doing this over time with longer nails always leads to my polish peeling sooner than I’d like.
- The odds are good it may not last as long as your typical salon manicure, just to be honest! Sometimes it’s just a game of chance; I’ve done manis that have lasted 2-3 weeks and sometimes they start peeling and chipping in a few days.
- Unlike salon gel, these gels I’ve suggested you use tend to peel right off in one piece with no problem! Sometimes salon gel starts to peel, but then won’t be ready in some spots, so when you peel it up it almost takes a layer of your nail with it. That has not happened to me at all! Your nails will be a little dry, so I would suggest letting them breathe a little bit between paintings.
- Do your own gel pedicure while you’re at it!
Let’s do the math. I’d get my nails done in a salon once a month; that’s about $30 dollars I’d shell out a month. That’s $360 a year. If you purchase a lamp, base/top coat, and one 6 pack of polishes, it comes to about $45. You spend $45 dollars one time. That’s like ONE pedicure! I mean come on; you CANNOT beat that!
There you have it, my tips and tricks for your diy gel mani! It’s such an easy and affordable change to make in your self-care routine for the long run! PLUS you can save your other friends and family some money too by doing their nails convincing them to make the switch!
Follow me on Instagram to keep up with my regular at home gel manicures!