The perfect gel manicure at home

We love trying new nail techniques, especially when they’re easy and long-lasting! Gel is a great alternative to regular polish – it provides a super glossy shine, has no drying time and a manicure can last for up to two weeks, chip-free. Sounds good to us! Here’s our fail-safe guide to applying gel nail polish at home:

What are gel nails?

There are a few different types of gel nails you can choose from. Here’s a quick overview of our top three:

• Gel is applied to the real nail. It’s simply brushed onto the nail in three stages: a base coat, polish colour and topcoat, before being cured under an LED or UV lamp (depending on the brand). This process sets the gel solid with no sticky residue, creating a lovely shine with zero waiting time.

• An acrylic nail kit uses artificial nails, usually added to the tips using liquid acrylic and powder – great if you’re looking to add length or alter the shape.

• Shellac is the brand name for a product made from both nail polish and gel. It’s applied straight to the nail and is available in many different colours. Pretty nails in a flash!

From prepping dos and don’ts to expert tips and tricks for a salon-worthy, chip-free finish with zero bubbling, watch our tutorial on how to apply gel nails and read more tips and tricks below for everything you need to know.

How to apply gel nail polish

1. Gather your kit together: nail polish remover, manicure set, gel base and top coat, gel cleanser, UV or LED lamp (depending on the brand you use) and gel colour polish

2. Use nail varnish remover to get rid of any previous nail polish 

3. Use a cuticle softener to loosen the cuticles before carefully trimming them

4. Shape and trim the nail to the desired length and shape

5. Gently buff the nails to bring out their natural shine and prepare them for polish

6. Wash and dry your hands

7. Now apply one coat of base polish

8. Cure under the LED or UV lamp, following brand guidelines

9. Apply the colour polish and cure

10. Repeat

11. Wipe the nails with gel cleanser

12. Finish with a final coat of gel top coat and again cure under the LED or UV lamp, following brand guidelines

13. Voila!

Top tips

• Apply gel polish in thin, even layers

• Wait a few seconds for the polish to even out before you place your hand under the LED or UV lamp

• How to remove gel nails: never peel old gel polish from the nail as this can cause damage

Read our guide on gel polish removal here