Doing gel nails at home is one of those things that sound way easier than they actually are. Tutorials abound on how to apply gel polish step by step but the truth is, learning how to apply gel nail polish perfectly takes quite a bit of practice.
However, besides practice there is also quite a lot of technique involved. We have gathered here the best gel nail polish at home tips, how to instructions and troubleshooting methods to help you started. Learn which is the best way to put gel nail polish on without having to make the mistakes yourself.
How To Apply Gel Nail Polish Without Streaks
Ah, the holy grail of gel nail polish application, the streak-less, glossy manicure. It sounds easier than it is, because the nature of gel nail polish makes it very prone to streaks. The best way to put gel nail polish on is with very thin, delicate layers. And that easily leads to a streaky mess. But no longer!
So, how to apply gel nail polish perfectly and without streaks? It all start with prep. First of all, lightly buff your nails, every time. Even if they look good, a bit of buffing will remove any texture that would lead to streaky gel nail polish. Then use an alcohol wipe (or a lint free wipe soaked in 90% alcohol) to make sure there is no residue or dust left on your nails. Push back your cuticles, so your nail surface is free and clean (otherwise you’ll get varnish on your cuticles, and it will lift and apply streaky).
Another thing people often forget is that, unlike regular nail polish, gel polish bottles must be shaken. This is so the pigments in the gel nail polish blend properly and evenly on the gel medium. So right before application, and after applying and curing your base coat, shake that bottle. If you find shaking the bottle with your hands tiring or not effective enough, you can buy a gel polish bottle shaker like the one used at your salon.
How To Apply Gel Nail Polish Light
Most gel nail tutorials are all about how to apply gel nail polish correctly, but pay very little attention to the actual curing process. They just say “cure your nails under the UV lamp” and then you end up with smudged nails.
To start with, you need to choose the right lamp. You can buy lamps of different sizes, and let’s not forget about the UV vs LED lamps debate. Sometimes it’s easier to just buy an at home gel nail kit that includes everything you need including the lamp, but that will reduce the amount of choice you have in terms of brands and colors.
Nails need space to cure, so if you buy a smaller lamp that only fits 4 fingers then only use it with 4 fingers. Cure your polish in three groups: the fingers in one hand, fingers on the other hand and then your thumbs both together. Make sure your fingertips are right under the lamp but not touching it. And try to keep the rest of your hand out of the lamp. Since this type of polish doesn’t dry, it doesn’t matter if it takes you a bit longer to cure all your fingers. It’s worth it to get the perfect gel manicure!
What Is The Best Way To Apply Gel Nail Polish?
If you are doing your gel nails at home you must understand: it takes practice. Even if you have been to salons for years, and have watched all the youtube tutorials, the first at home manicure may not look perfect and you’ll get better the more you do it. But there is a lot to be said about learning how to best apply gel nail polish before you open that polish bottle.
If you are used to regular manicures you may feel tempted to do the three strokes method: one in the middle and two on the sides. That’s great when you are an expert, but if you are just starting to learn how to apply gel nail polish perfectly you want to use short strokes. Unlike regular varnish, gel won’t dry off so even if it takes a bit longer short strokes without a lot of varnish on the brush will give you better results.
Another thing to keep in mind when learning how to apply gel nail polish at home is how to avoid flooding your cuticles with varnish. In fact you should avoid the polish even touching your skin. Keep it to the nail, and above all, wipe off any varnish on your skin BEFORE putting your fingers under the UV lamp.
Make sure the entire color layer is covered by the top coat, and this way you will have a glossy manicure that lasts for ages. Otherwise you will have matte spots that will chip with day to day life.
If you want your manicure to last you need to also learn how to cap the free edge. Capping is key to how to apply gel nail polish correctly and makes a huge difference in terms of longevity. And what does this mean? Besides applying the polish to the top of your nails, you also need to apply it to the free edge of the nail, the actual tip of the nail. You should do this with the base coat, the color coats and then the top coat. Why? Because this prevents gel nails from lifting, and will make your manicure last exponentially longer.
How To Keep Your Cuticles From Drying
Dry cuticles are a common problem when doing (and removing) your gel nails at home. The solvents in this type of varnish and the acetone required to remove them can be very drying to your skin. Besides making sure you never cure nail polish on your skin, there are other ways to prevent your cuticles from becoming dryer than a desert.
You should apply aquaphor or other heavy hydrating lotions to your cuticles (none of it should touch the actual surface of your nails or your manicure will be ruined) with a q-tip before you start applying or removing polish. This will protect your cuticles and make cleanup easier when you are painting your nails.
If you are a regular use of long lasting nail varnish, you should also become a regular user of cuticle oils. Keep a bottle handy and try to apply it to your nails at least twice a day. Got a long phone meeting? Apply and massage a few drops of cuticle oil over your cuticles. Or get in the habit of doing it before going to bed. Your manicure will last longer if your nails are flexible and your cuticles are in good condition, and you won’t feel the need to pick at them and ruin your manicure.
Gels last for much longer than regular varnish, but they are not immune to external factors. If you soak your hands very often the varnish can eventually slide off. Try to use gloves when doing the dishes, and apply a good hand lotion after washing your hands to try and minimise this and keep your skin looking and feeling great.
Learning how to apply gel nail polish correctly at home can save you a lot of money on the long run. It’s also really convenient, as you won’t need to wait until your favourite salon is open and has a free slot. However, it’s not so simple as it looks and it’s worth educating yourself on how to apply gel nail polish perfectly instead of trying to figure out how to best apply gel nail polish on your own by trial and error. Among other things, removing this type of polish is quite time consuming, so better get it right and professional looking from the beginning!