How to Get Salon Gel Nails at Home: Detailed Guide with Photos

Posted by Anastasia Dekantios on

About a year ago I found a new love for DIY gel nails. I loved getting my nails done but wanted them to last a long time (over a week minimum). I tried many salons in the area – some were better than the other, but the point being gel nails started to chip my day 5 and in 2 weeks looked like a total wreck. Not to mention that each visit was about $40-50 with the tip.

So as a true lover of doing things on my own and learning new skills, I set off on an adventure of learning how to do my own gel nails. I think it is worth mentioning that all the supplies I needed cost me a little over one trip to the salon but has lasted me for a year and are not nearly at the end of their lifetime.

Make gel nails at home to last long over 2 weeks

First try wasn’t perfect, but close to the salon result – started chipping around day 5. Good news, I had the same color and lamp and what not and could fix it in no time to make it all look good again. But still – that was not what I was aiming for!

So I tried again, reading articles, researching forums and watching YouTube videos. I’m happy to report I found some magic tips and tricks that make my nails last for 2 weeks with little to no chipping, and mind you, I work at the daycare where I clean with bleach constantly and so the nails are washed with heavy chemicals many times a day. Plus I swim at the pool – additional chlorine soaking for 45 min 3-5 times a week.

But enough talking, let’s get to the secrets!

Successful DIY Gel Nail Manicure at Home: Guide

Step 1. Take off your old nail polish (see another post here on some tips on how to make it safe for your nails, fast and easy).

Step 2. Cut and file the shape of the nails you want (I like to keep mine short because I work with children).

Tools to cut and file the shape of the nails

Step 3. File with a fine grit the surface of your nail (all of it, focusing on the edges. It needs to be a little scrapped, not too much, but not usual or polished. This is essential to make your nails stay on for longer and for the gel to grip well. Don’t worry you can still take them off and no damage to your nails will happen!)

Scrapped surface of nail before applying gel nail polish

Step 4. Next you need base, top, color gel nail polishes and lamp (I use LED).

Base, top, color gel nail polishes and lamp

Step 5. Apply a thin coat of “base” gel nail polish and cure under the lamp according to the brand instructions (mine are 30 sec). The coat being VERY thin is the key! Less is more. It should barely cover the nail. Make sure to seal the edge by going on the tip of the nail across the edge on its side and almost underneath.

Thin coat of base gel nail polish

Step 6. Apply 2 – 3 thin color gel coats and cure under the lamp according to the instructions (mine say 60 sec). Once again, coats being thin is the key; seal the edge each time.

Gel nails cure under the lamp

Step 7. Apply top coat and cure under the lamp according to the instructions (60 sec for me). The important thing here is to coat evenly and ALL of the nail, seal the edges, don’t miss any spots. When you cure this coat under the lamp, the nails begin to glow.

If you see any part of the nail not glowing – that means you didn’t apply the top coat to it and you need to do another coat over it. Let this coat be cured and then apply the new one to “fix the hole”.

Glowing gel nails under the lamp

Step 8. Depending on the type of the top coat you use you might need to wipe the nails with rubbing alcohol to get rid of the stickiness. I use “no wipe” type and it works great plus saves an additional step and need to store another bottle of stuff.

How to make salon quality gel nails at home without chipping quick

Step 9. Done! Enjoy your nails! These are mine, and I will post update pics as the 2 weeks go by!

Do you have secret tips and tricks that make your gel manicure STAY ON?

Let me know in the comments below!

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