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After going for a few professional treatments with your nail technician, you might have thought you can do it by yourself at home. Indeed, getting a home manicure is not a big deal, especially if you know how to do it and follow the right steps.
Getting gel nails at home would require you to prepare the nails correctly, apply the base coat and the chosen gel polish neatly in thin layers, one at a time, allowing each layer to dry completely. Finishing off with a good top coat is a must.
Although it may sound really simple, this advice has some tips and tricks you should adhere to to ensure the result would be gorgeous. At the end of this article, you can also find a simple hack on how to fix dull-looking nails after a freshly done manicure.
How do you apply gel polish neatly?
There are several steps that need to be followed when you decide to apply gel polish. You can choose to do it at the salon or home – there is no difference, the steps remain the same. To get a long-lasting manicure, all these steps need to be followed in the exact order they are listed in the following text.
1. Preparation Is the Key
I cannot stress enough how important preparation is. Our nails are naturally coated in a thin layer of oils our skin produces on a daily level. Oils are the number one enemy of artificial nails. This is because the gel won’t stick properly to the nail if any oils are interfering with the polish.
Another thing you need to have in mind is that you have to predetermine what kind of shape and length you would like to achieve. Cut and file the nails in a way that’s imitating the final look you would like to have. If you change your mind after you’ve cut your nails, there is no going back.
To understand this, bear in mind that acrylics can be used to change the nail shape and length even when you cut them to the core. Gel, on the other hand, does not have the necessary properties to achieve this, so it is only used as a form of reinforcement to your nails.
I’ve seen that many women make one mistake here – they trim the cuticles at the end. This is wrong because you should remove the cuticles and push them away from the nail at the beginning of the process, to utilize the nail surface to the maximum. Once you’ve done this it’s time to remove the oils and finish the prep faze.
The oils and any debris from the nails are easily removed with a cotton pad or cotton ball dipped in acetone. Be careful not to skip this step because the whole look of your manicure may depend on it.
2. Apply Base Layer
After the preparation of the nails, it’s time to apply a base coat to your nails. This is also one of the steps you should follow carefully and not avoid at all costs. Even though your natural nails may seem perfectly sleek and without any flaw, under the microscope you would notice tiny imperfections that make your nails a rough surface.
Applying a base coat is supposed to fix this. If applied correctly, the base coat will create a thin and even layer of protection over your nails. After this, you can easily apply the gel on top of it, and be sure it would stick just nicely.
Make sure not to put too much base coat on your nails because a layer that’s too thick may have a bad effect on the result. Just a super thin layer would do the work for gel. On the other hand, if you want to apply regular nail polish, a thicker layer is recommended.
When applying a base coat make sure you don’t apply it to your skin because it can be hard to remove it afterward without damaging the skin. Also, it’s crucial to allow the base coat to dry completely before advancing to the next step. If the base coat is not dry when you apply the gel, it might mix with the gel and the gel would not behave well.
3. Apply Thin Layers of Gel Polish
When you apply layer by layer, you allow each one of them to set properly and prepare the nail for the next one. Don’t try to take shortcuts and apply too much gel polish. Yes, it would set on the nail, but it won’t look good. The key is to apply thin layers on top of each other.
After applying the first thin layer, your nails may be looking streaky, especially if you’ve chosen a lighter shade of gel polish. This is because lighter shades are more see-through and require one to two extra layers to be applied compared to darker shades of the gel polish.
Each layer of gel polish needs to cure properly under a UV lamp for at least 90 to 120 seconds. If you are unsure for how long you should rest your hands in the UV lamp, go by the saying – the more, the better. It’s always better to be sure that the layer is completely cured before applying another one on top.
Also, when applying the gel polish, make sure you apply it over the tip of your nail as well. Doing this you will “lock” the gel polish on your nails and prevent it from curling back, chipping, or falling off. And it would look better on the nail like this.
4. Don’t Forget the Top Coat
Top coat over the gel polish would act as a color protector – it would prevent any damages or discoloration that might occur. The nails are usually very exposed to external influence since 95% of the daily activities we do by hand.
But, not any top coat would do the work. You need to choose the right top coat for the manicure technique you’ve been using. Gel nail polish requires either a clear, shiny top coat or matte top coat, both cured under a UV lamp for around 60 seconds.
A matte top coat will give you a nice finish but bear in mind that after applying a matte top coat you can’t go back to shiny just as easily. This is because matte and shiny top coats have different formulations, so make sure you want it when you paint it.
5. Fix the Damage Easily
Sometimes after just a few days, the gel manicure may start looking very dull and worn out. This is because the nails can be easily damaged, especially if you soak them in water too much or if you’re working with abrasive formulas.
To fix this issue, I’ve seen many women just repaint another clear top coat and cure it under a UV lamp. This is wrong because the damages you’ve made on the previous top coat would still be visible. The right way is to use a nail file to carefully file the damaged layer.
After this, reapply your chosen top coat, cure it under a UV lamp for 60 seconds, and you’re good to go. Bear in mind that this can be done once or twice maximum. If the damages continue, you should reconsider getting another manicure, maybe with a professional nail technician who can use some products to reinforce and extra protect the surface of your nails.
If the thick layers are there, here you can read how to get rid of them.
- How to Apply Gel Nails: 11 Steps (with Pictures)
- Gel Nail Polish at Home Tips & How To
- How To Apply Gel Nail Polish | Couture Gel Nail Polish Kits Manicure Application
- 10 Tips and Tricks for Gel Polish Beginners
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