Easy At-Home Gel Manicure Routine

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I never used to paint my nails. It always seemed like a minor detail of my look to which no one really paid attention. Plus after spending one hour giving myself the perfect manicure and letting my nails completely dry, my polish would almost always chip a few days later… ugh.

In recent years, I’ve realized how well-maintained nails can really impact your appearance. More importantly, I discovered the wonders of gel nail polish. After seeing my nails take a beating from the dryness of the winter season, I knew I needed a nail glow-up and started researching tutorials on how to get a salon-quality manicure at home. Many nail technicians recommended gel polish for long-lasting nail color. Naturally I took the plunge, bought some tools for a DIY gel manicure, and I’m obsessed with the results!

Now my nails look clean and polished, plus I can normally get by for a week without needing to strip everything off and do another manicure. It’s also way less expensive and time-consuming than going to the nail salon (which for many of us are closed anyways). If you’re interested in pampering yourself and enjoying your own gel manicure at home, then try out my own manicure routine below.

The Tools

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Remove old nail polish. Soak a cotton pad or lint-free wipe in your favorite nail polish remover. My go-to is the OPI Expert Touch Lacquer Remover. Although it’s more expensive than your average nail polish remover, it doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. Gently wipe the pad across your nails to remove old nail polish as well as any oil and debris.

Shape your nails. Using a professional nail file, shape your nails by moving the file from one side of the nail to the center. Move the file in one direction; don’t seesaw the file by quickly dragging it back and forth.

Take care of your cuticles. Dip a Q-tip into cuticle remover and apply it to your cuticles. Allow the solution to set for a few minutes to soften your cuticles, then gently push them back with a metal cuticle pusher. Take cotton pad or wipe and remove any dead skin. Use the slightly smaller end of the cuticle pusher to clean up your nails if any extra skins remains. Soak a cotton pad or wipe in alcohol and wipe the pad across your nail to clean up.

Buff your nails. Grab a nail buffer and buff the surface of your nails. Buff underneath your nails to remove any rough edges. Take a nail brush and gently brush across your nails to remove any debris from buffing.

Apply a base coat. Paint one coat of your preferred gel base polish on your nails. Applying a base coat will ensure that your manicure will last longer. Place your nails into your gel machine for one minute (or the amount of time recommended by your gel polish). If your gel machine is smaller, insert your thumb into your gel machine for one minute, then your other four fingers.

Apply a colored polish. Paint a thin coat of your favorite colored gel polish on your nails. Avoid applying too much polish to your nails as this can cause rippling. Place your nails into your gel machine. If your nails appear sheer, add an additional coat of colored polish and return your nails to the gel machine again.

Apply a top coat. Paint one coat of your preferred gel top polish on your nails. Similar to a base coat, a top coat will ensure that your manicure will last longer while also protecting the color of your nails. Place your nails into your gel machine.

Treat your cuticles. Apply your favorite cuticle oil to your cuticles and gently rub the oil on the skin around your nails. This will help nourish your cuticles and prevent dry nails. Et voilà! Your at-home gel manicure is complete!

Thanks for reading! How do you manicure your nails?


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