D.I.Y Gel Nails – Tips To Achieve The Perfect Home Finish

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LED Gel Curing Lamp (UV is fine but its an outdated technology)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!

Prep+Wipe Solution

Gel Remover – Acetone can also be used

Gel Top Coat

Gel Base Coat

Gel Colour

Nail File – I prefer glass nail files as these are kinder to your natural nail

Buffing Block

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!

The secret to using pigments..

When I first started using makeup I was told to use pressed eye-shadows, with pigments seen as a mythical product used only by professionals. It was only when I started training as a make-up artist that I was introduced to pigments, and since then I have become addicted.

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What are pigments

Pigments are the main ingredients in eye-shadow. Usually with pressed eye-shadows a binder is added which dulls the pigment’s color. Without binder, the intensely coloured loose powder is known as pigment—they can be matte, shimmery or glittery. Pigments give you the ability to control the coverage, opacity and intensity of the finish.

Loose Pigments

Loose pigments are a fine, loose powder which are very multipurpose. These can be used wet or dry to create a vast range of looks. Loose pigments can unfortunately have a lot of fall out (falling onto other areas), so I find applying the pigment to my eyes first, gives me the chance to wipe my skin free of the fall out, before applying my base.

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Pressed Pigments

Pressed pigments are made with over 80% pure pigment which offer intense colour, shimmer and multiple dimensions. Pressed pigments are ideal when looking to create a range of looks.  Developed to deliver the coverage, rich colour payoff and finish of a loose powder without the inconvenience or mess.

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Face

Pigments can be used as blushers, highlighters and to contour your face. To use, tap the pigment onto a flat surface and use either a fan or angled brush to pick up the pigment (don’t forget to tap off the excess) and sweep along the desired area of your face. Be sure to choose colored pigment that complements your skin tone.

Body 

Perfect for a night out, festivals or holidays, loose pigments can be mixed into your body lotion or simply dusted onto your skin to create a body shimmer and give you a great all over glow.

Eyes 

Loose pigments can be used as dry or wet eye-shadows, or as eyeliners. To reduce fallout I would always recommend using an eye-shadow primer to create a base for the powder to adhere to. The application is also made easier when using a brush with dense bristles to pat the colour on and use a fluffier brush to blend. Pressed pigments can be used in the more traditional sense alongside pressed eye-shadows. Again use a fluffier brush to blend.

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Lips 

Loose pigments can be mixed with a gloss or balm and applied to the lips – this is sometimes a little trickier than it sounds, so practice the look first. I have used pressed pigments over the top of matte lipsticks to  create an ombre effect – and I love it. This is definitely a great look for an evening out.

Nails 

I know your thinking, how am I going to use pigment on my nails. Well its all too simple really. You can add your favorite loose pigments to a clear nail varnish, add into a small pot, stir well and paint away. pexels-photo-709803.jpeg