How to do your own gel nail manicure at home

Photos by ebmonson

Gel nail polish is an amazing thing and it’s really popular these days for a lot of great reasons. Gel nail polish will last a lot longer than a regular manicure. It’s also a lot less damaging to do this sort of manicure than to do any sort of acrylic manicure.

If you ever had a gel manicure done at a salon then you probably fell in love with it for all of these reasons. However one thing to not be in love with is the cost of a gel manicure. The average cost of a gel manicure is $40 dollars and it can be even more expensive if you live in a big city. For a one time investment in a UV nail lamp and the occasional cost of the gel polish you can do your very own gel manicures at home.

Don’t have a nail lamp? Check our reviews and see the best lamps that we recommend for at home gel nail manicures. Our personal favorite is the Gelish LED lamp. You can also find our complete list of everything your need for gel nails at home.

Nail Harmony Gelish 18G LED Lamp


With all of your new tools and equipment you may be a bit confused about what to do with all of it. Here is a guide to get you started.

1. The first thing that you should do is prepare your nails. Use an orangewood stick to push back your cuticles. Use a nail file to shape your nails and eliminated any unevenness.
2. Use a cleansing pad to clean your nails and remove any dust from the surface.
3. Apply a layer of gel polish bond to all of your nails and let it dry.
4. Carefully apply a layer of gel polish foundation. Do not get it on your skin.
5. Place your hands under your nail lamp to cure the foundation. The amount of time that you will need to let your nails cure depends on the type of lamp you have purchased. Check your user manual for the recommended curing times.
6. After curing the foundation, your nails may seem sticky. If you prefer, you may use a cleanser to remove the sticky layer, however this is not necessary.
7. Apply a layer of the gel nail polish color of your choice.
8. One again hold your nails under your nail lamp and cure for the recommended amount of time.
9. If necessary apply another layer of polish and cure again.
10. Apply a layer of gel polish topcoat and once again cure under the nail lamp.
11. If there is a sticky layer at the surface of your nails, use cleanser on a lint free pad and carefully wipe each nail.
12. Use cuticle oil or moisturizers on your hands to keep them smooth, moist and healthy after your manicure.

Some tips for getting the most out of your manicure
-Always shake your gel nail polish before you apply.
-Applying the nail bonder is optional, but it’s a good thing to use to increase the bonding between your nails and the gel nail polish.
-Mix and match colors. Apply a layer of one color, cure, and then apply another gel color. This could lead to some interesting and beautiful results!