Mar 14, 2013

DIY Gel Mani

A lot of you expressed interest in the gel manicure at home kits when I posted this picture on ATST last Friday so I figured I’d share what I know.

I first heard about the wonder of the DIY gel mani last summer when Corey and I went to visit our friend Fields (last name) in her new apartment. We had a date with NYC that night, but not before Fields excitedly listed off the advantages to doing a gel mani yourself and thereafter successfully peer pressured me into trying it out immediately. Peer pressure is Fields’s thing and she’s really really good at it.

[This is Fields's back. Ironing is her therapy. This is my trapped face. Please note the necessary nearby cocktail]
Granted it was my first time (and I didn't do a very good job) but it definitely took me way longer than what Fields had originally said. I think I sat there for an hour wishing I could start getting ready for the night.

I received my own home gel manicure kit this past Christmas and though it took some getting used to, I’m happy to say my skills have since improved significantly.

I use a Hetien kit, but the steps are generally the same for all at-home kits and the instructions will clearly state the easy step-by-step process.
  1. Gather your supplies. Cut, file and buff your nails to your liking. Push those cuticles in.
  2. Wipe off your nails with a cotton ball and paint a thin coat of the PH primer to get your nails ready.
  3. Paint a thin base coat (Glossy 2 in 1 for Hetien) and cure for 120 seconds. The amount of time will depend on what type of kit you have.
  4. Paint one coat of your chosen nail color and cure for 120 seconds.
  5. Paint a second coat and cure again.
  6. Paint a coat of top coat (for Hetien it’s the Glossy 2 in 1 again) and cure.
  7. Wipe your nails to get rid of the tacky residue (you can use a gel cleanser for this).

[I thank air travel for the lovely gold splatter that so beautifully covers half my polishes]

Since I enjoy my substantial nail polish collection, I often just use regular nail polish. It works just the same, but there’s no need to cure after painting it on. Just let it dry as you normally would. For this one, I used Essie's Russian Roulette.

I asked Fields if she had any tips and she said her number one tip would be to “cap” the nail. You know how when you get a gel mani at the salon the tips are wider than your nails are on their own? If you paint the width of the tips, just a straight line across, it’ll give this effect and keep them from chipping.

Paint in thin coats. Seriously important.

If you get gel on your skin or cuticles, make sure to wipe it off before curing. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with it, you'll look like a hot mess, your nails are more likely to peel or chip and if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up picking at your nails as a result.

If you’re looking for a good at-home gel mani kit, I’d recommend Sensational. It’s the one Fields uses and has a LED lamp, which dries faster than a UV lamp. The starter kit comes with everything you need and you can find it at CVS or Walmart or probably any of those similar type stores.

Have you ever tried doing a gel mani at home? Any other tips you'd like to share?


  1. cori @olivetorun.comMarch 14, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I did a gel manicure for my wedding and it was the best decision I made (beauty wise... marrying my husband was the BEST decision I made:)).

  2. Wow your nails turned out awesome! Loving that red color you chose! I have tried doing a gel manicure at home a few times and have success depending on the amount of time I would like to spend on them. But they never last as long as going and getting one. Thanks so much for sharing your process! Looks like your process is a little more professional looking with the UV lighting. :) Xo, M at

  3. I agree--it's definitely more of a process and if I don't have the time or patience I'll just do a regular mani. I love this color too -- it's my go-to red! :)


Thank you for reading! We love hearing your thoughts!!