During this crazy time of COVID-19, a lot of our beauty treatments have gone on hold because of temporary salon closures or tightening those purse strings.
One beauty treatment I absolutely cannot live without is my nails. I was an Acrylic addict from 16 and eventually moved onto Gel Polish a couple of years ago. Even though I trained professionally, nails have never been something I had been able to do on myself but with a lot of trial, error and funny finishes, I finally achieved a salon finish at home.
What you need to get started
Lets get started with the basic equipment/ products you need to apply and remove your nails. My favourite at home brand is Mylee – they are of course Cruelty Free with the “Caring Consumer” logo featured on their website. You can buy starter kits from Amazon, eBay and the Mylee website or individual product lines.
LED Gel Curing Lamp (UV is fine but its an outdated technology)
Lint Free Wipes – Critical these are LINT FREE!
Gel Remover – Acetone can also be used
Gel Top Coat
Gel Base Coat
Nail File – I prefer glass nail files as these are kinder to your natural nail
Wooden Cuticle Stick
Metal Cuticle Stick
Foil – I use kitchen foil and tear it into roughly 10cm x 15cm pieces
Preparation is key
Wash and dry your hands
TOP TIP - Do not apply any hand cream or oils as this will prevent the gel sticking to your nails properly
Use the Wooden Cuticle Stick to gently push your cuticles back, this allows you to paint your full nail bed with a neat edge
Use the Nail File to shape the edge of your nails, personally I’m a fan of the Squoval (Square, with an oval edge)
Remove the shine from the nail plate with the Buffing Block
TOP TIP - Do this gently, you do not want to take the top layer of your natural nail off
Sanitise the nail bed with the Prep + Wipe Solution, using the Lint Free Wipes
TOP TIP - Lint Free Wipes are crucial, without them you will have funny little cotton pad "hairs" stuck in your nails and in the gel polish
Applying Your Gel Nails
Now the prep work is complete you can get started on the fun part. I always have a lint free wipe to hand to tidy up any over spill on my finger before I cure the polish.
Apply Base Coat
TOP TIP - Do your thumbs separately to your fingers, this will stop the gel moving to one edge of your thumb nail while it is curing in the lamp
TOP TIP - Do one hand at a time, yes it might feel like it takes longer but it's less messy and easier to remember what stage you are at
Cure nails for 2 minutes using the LED Lamp
Apply one thin layer of the Gel Polish Colour
TOP TIP - When applying the Gel Polish, it’s best to do thin layers and build up the colour. Some colours might need one, two or three layers!
TOP TIP - Make sure you cap the top of your nail and do not paint too close to the cuticle, this stops the Gel Polish lifting prematurely
Cure nails for 2 minutes using the LED Lamp
Repeat the colour step again until you achieve your desired colou
Top Tip - Mylee's "As red as it gets" takes two coats
Apply the Gel Polish Top Coat
TOP TIP - Remember to cap the top of the nail
Cure nails for 2 minutes using the LED Lamp, when you take these out the nails will still feel a bit tacky
Wipe the finished nails using your Prep + Wipe Solution and Lint Free Wipes
Finally apply your Cuticle Oil to your nails and massage it in
Maintaining your Nails
Now your nails look great, you want to make sure
your handiwork lasts as long as possible, right?
Apply cuticle oil every day and avoid heavy duty products
TOP TIP - Avoid cleaning products and excess heat on your nails, as it can get onto the nail bed making the gel lift easier - make sure you wear gloves
If a nail becomes chipped, gently file the chipped area and add another coat of top coat & cure
TOP TIP - The Top Coat will seal for a few more days, making sure the chip doesn’t widen and the gel nail doesn’t lift off!
Take it off
I get it, a lot of you want to pick off all your Gel Polish and be done with it – this is not only messy but will damage your natural nails too, so we have a simple way to remove them.
Buff the Gel Polish lightly
Soak a Lint Free Wipe with Gel Remover
Place the Lint Free Wipe on top of your nail and wrap with foil for 15 minutes
TOP TIP – It is again easier to do one hand at a time, otherwise it gets very fiddly with foil covered fingers
Use a Metal Cuticle Stick to push off any remainder of the Gel Polish
Buff your nails with the Block Buffer to remove rough edges
If you’re not looking to reapply your Gel Polish, moisturise your nails and hands with lotion otherwise start the steps from the beginning of this post again!