If you’ve ever been to a nail salon, you’re probably familiar with manicures. A manicure involves cutting, filing, and shaping fingernails to achieve a particular look.
A gel manicure is very similar to the traditional manicure process. However, there are some stark contrasts. Unlike a traditional manicure, gel manicure utilizes UV or LED to “cure” the nails. Curing is the process that causes nails to dry. It involves chemical reactions that are facilitated by light, helping to lock the gel nails in place. Another advantage of gel manicures compared to traditional ones is that they can withstand wear and tear better.
Instead of going to the salon, you can apply your gel manicure at home. You’ll need some supplies before getting started. These include:
- Cuticle oil
- LED lamp
- Nail buff
- Nail clippers and file
- Base coat
- Top coat
- Gel polish
Applying the Gel Polish
Once you’ve assembled all the necessary items, it’s time to begin applying the gel polish. Always remember that this process is as much an art as a skill. You want to exercise a certain amount of finesse throughout.
Cut and File the Nails
It’s rare to start applying gel polish without shaping the nails first. File the nail edges to ensure the nails are just the right shape and size before you begin. If the nails are big, use the nail clipper to reduce the size. You can then use the nail file to ensure smooth edges.
Apply Cuticle Oil
Cuticle oil is something that nail care professionals recommend for daily use. It helps to keep your nails moisturized.
To apply the cuticle oil properly, use a cuticle pusher to retract the cuticles. This makes the nail more exposed. A cuticle pusher is also useful for ensuring an even cuticle surface by removing dead skin from it. Apply the cuticle oil.
Always remember that oily nails will lead to issues later on when you’re applying the base coat. That’s why you should always apply the cuticle oil earlier on during the process.
Buff Your Nails
Before applying the gel polish, ensure that your nails have a smooth, shiny texture. Buffing your nails helps to accomplish this. The buffing process involves using buffers of fine grit to smoothen the nail surface.
Clean Your Nails
Using some rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab, clean your nails thoroughly. A cleanser can also do the trick. Thoroughly cleaning your nails ensures that the gel polish can adhere properly to your natural nail surface. It is at this stage that any cuticle oil and impurities are removed from the nail surface.
Apply Base Coat
Your natural nails will need protection from the damaging effects of the gel polish to be applied. The base coat provides this protection. Much like regular nail polish, it is a clear liquid. However, they have different chemical composition. Many base coats have cellulose in them. The cellulose helps the gel polish to stick to your nail surface.
Apply a thin layer of base coat on your nails. Use UV or LED light to cure for at least 30 seconds. This ensures enough time for the base coat to dry. Repeat this process a few more times.
Ensure to apply the base coat over all the free edges at each nail’s fringes. This ensures a chip-free resistant finish.
Apply The Gel Polish
A good rule to follow is to shake the gel polish container thoroughly to ensure a uniform mixture before use. After that, apply the gel polish in a uniform layer on the whole nail surface all the way to the cuticle. Guard against applying it on your bare skin. If that happens, quickly wipe it off before the curing process is complete. While a professional may recommend applying only about two to three layers of gel polish, you apply more. Applying about five layers will get you reasonable opaqueness.
Between each round of applying gel polish, use the UV or LED light to cure for at least half a minute.
Apply Top Coat
You want to apply a top coat to ensure that your gel polish color has the right seal. This will give your nails the necessary gleam. Cure the nail one more time after applying a top coat. Have a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol close by just in case you need to wipe off any tacky residue after curing.
Ensure to have regular aftercare. For example, you can apply cuticle oil daily, especially after washing your hands. This is when skin dryness sets in. The cuticle oil will help to keep your fingernails well-hydrated.