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How to DIY the Perfect Gel Nails at Home

Posted on Location: 4 m read

A while ago, I posted a couple stories on Instagram about my latest obsession with Gellen gel polish and my new gel curing machine. A lot of you couldn’t believe that I did my own nails and I surprisingly got a ton of questions about it. So, I decided to write a post about how I DIY the perfect gel nails from home! A while ago, I posted a couple stories on Instagram about my latest obsession with Gellen gel polish and my new gel curing machine. A lot of you couldn’t believe that I did my own nails and I surprisingly got a ton of questions about it. So, I decided to write a post about how I DIY the perfect gel nails from home! And just FYI — none of this was sponsored πŸ˜‰

For a while, I was spending recklessly on getting my nails done regularly at the salon because I hated how regular polish would chip off in just a couple days. Not to mention, the drying time really sucks. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to NOT leave a dent in my nails when using regular polish. Plus these days, strong nails are a must to pry off my Invisalign trays before meals. Those pesky little attachments underneath make them so difficult to remove. So, gels all the way for me.

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I recently discovered an affordable, quality gel nail brand called Gellen on Amazon. Their products have raving reviews so I decided to start myself off with their gel curing machine and a couple sets of polishes. I got a base/top coat set, some fall/winter appropriate colors, and two glitter polishes. I felt a little guilty starting an all new collection when I literally have 100+ regular nail polishes sitting in my cupboard… there’s actually a product you can add to regular polish to transform them into gels but I haven’t gotten a chance to try that yet. If you have, I’d love to hear your experience! If it’s easy to do, I may just have to do that so my old polishes don’t go to waste.

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Everything came out to under $75 which to me, is a steal. At the salon, I was paying $30+ to get my nails done every two weeks! This set pretty much pays for itself after 2-3 uses. Since getting this, I’ve been doing gels on my toes too. My toenails don’t grow as quickly as my fingernails, so the gels stay on forever. I only have to do my toes probably once every 2-3 months now, unless I feel like matching my fingers to my toes (which is almost never).

Pinit

I’m still getting the hang of shaping my nails perfectly like how they do it in salons, but I’m getting there. I usually like the square shape on me, but then again I haven’t had the courage to try the pointy style yet. Now that I don’t have to pay to get my nails done every time, I feel more inclined to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. Perhaps in the near future you’ll see me with pointy nails. Until then, I’m sticking with what I know.

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Let’s get started!

PREPPING

Before getting started with the actual gel curing process, it’s important to prep the nails…

Shape them as desired

Remove all old polish

File down ridges

Trim cuticles as needed

Smoothen each nail so that the base coat can effectively stick to the nail

Wash away the debris and get ready for the fun part!

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The gel curing machine has 3 settings – 10, 30, and 60 seconds. I use the 60 second setting the most because I’m paranoid and want to make sure the polish is perfectly cured each round.

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CURING

On clean nails, apply an even layer of the base coat, and cure for 30 seconds.

Keep in mind that gels are messy and difficult to clean up after it’s been cured. Be sure toΒ touch up any “mistakes” with a Q tip before placing the hand in the machine for curing.

Paint an even layer of desired gel polish color and cure for 60 seconds.

Repeat this twiceΒ to get 3 even coat colors.

Lastly, finish off with a layer ofΒ top coat, and cure for 60 seconds.

Voila — you’ve got salon-quality nails from the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the cost!

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My gel nails typically last 2 weeks before I need to redo them. This is pretty standard since my fingernails grow out quickly. Unlike the gels from my salon, I find these ones to be easy to peel off when it’s time to remove them. I know this is not the recommended way to remove gels but I haven’t had any issues. This is a plus for me as I hate having to worry about how to remove the gels after enjoying them for half a month.

Pinit

I know this was a super lengthy post, but hopefully it has inspired you to try DIY gel nails! If you have any more questions about the products used or the steps, let me know in a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Have you DIYed gel nails before?

What do you think?

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56 Comments
  • Denise Fry
    January 11, 2018

    Yes!!! Thank you for this tutorial! I had been waiting for it since I saw it on your stories. Going to get myself a gel curing machine and try this myself. Hopefully it’ll turn out as nicely as yours did!!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      I’m glad you like the tutorial babe! I would love to see how your nails turn out when you get a chance to try. πŸ™‚ xoxo

  • Stephanie
    January 11, 2018

    I totally have these in my Amazon cart after chatting with you the other day! I can’t wait to try them out and have cute at-home gel nails like yours. Thanks for the recommendation, girlfriend!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Hehehe yay girl!!! I am stoked for you and cannot wait to see your DIY gel nails πŸ™‚ it’s such a cool concept and I can’t wait to get creative and maybe try some nail art soon! <3 xoxo

  • Mariann Yip
    January 11, 2018

    Gel nail kit at home? That sounds amazing! I also love the packaging, it’s so cute!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      A pretty cool concept right?! I’ve already started saving so much money with this kit and now have more money to spend on facials instead >_< hahaha

  • Kimmie
    January 11, 2018

    This is such a cool concept!! You did such a good job doing them mine would not look that good if I tried!!
    xo Kimmie

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Thanks Kimmie! It definitely takes practice. The first time around I made some mistakes and didn’t shape my nails as nicely as I wanted (to be fair, my nails were pretty short at that time so I didn’t have as much to work with). But like anything else practice makes perfect! πŸ˜‰

  • Miranda Sterling
    January 11, 2018

    You did a splendid job with those nails girl, holy cow!!! They totally look like salon-quality tips. I get my nails done at the salon every 2 weeks so it definitely adds up. Will look into this and try to save some money. Hopefully my nails will turn out looking as pretty as yours! Thanks for sharing your tutorial.

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Thank you Miranda! I’m flattered that you think they look salon-quality πŸ˜‰ that was my goal! I definitely have some things I can work on but practice makes perfect and it’s all part of the fun. I used to get my nails done regularly at the salon too but found that it was adding up extremely quickly. This is the perfect solution for quality nails at a fraction of the cost, and the best part is I can do it at home and switch out colors whenever I want! xx

  • Annette
    January 11, 2018

    Gel at home is definitely a process, thanks for sharing!! πŸ™‚ End result looks great
    http://www.fashiontrendforward.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Thanks Annette! Yes, it’s quite a process but I like it better than applying regular polish haha. I’ll usually just put on a TV show and do my nails while watching TV! It’s a great way to multitask and relax for a bit πŸ˜‰

  • Courtney Hardy
    January 11, 2018

    Your nails look so cute. I love the color of it.
    sugarcoatedbears.blogspot.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Thank you so much Courtney! The color is a year-round classic πŸ™‚

  • Tonya
    January 11, 2018

    Wow! That really is a great price! Definitely saving money instead of going to a salon every two weeks! I’m scared I wouldn’t be good at doing this myself, but this tutorial really makes me want to try!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Thanks Tonya! It definitely didn’t turn out perfectly the first try for me and I had to practice to get it looking decent! I’d say it’s worth it though because now I know what I’m doing and it gets faster each time πŸ™‚ I think you’d do a great job if you tried! xx

  • Candace
    January 11, 2018

    Your nails look so professionally done! I would love to try to transform my nail polishes to gels. I also spend a lot of money at the nail salon and it gets so expensive! I’ll have to look for this brand on Amazon!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 11, 2018

      Thanks Candace! I’m happy to hear you like how they turned out. I’m so glad I can cut back on spending when it comes to my nails and more importantly, get them to look beautiful from home! It’s incredible how long these at-home gels last too πŸ™‚

  • Miki
    January 11, 2018

    Ok, so sad to admit that I have not been doing my nails even close to as well as this Haha. I love this post. The step by steps are amazing and I always see all your different manicures on Instastories! They always look professionally done! I want to try these gel nail polishes. You make it look so easy Sharon! Wish we could do a girls day, chill and watch a movie and do nails. Would be fun!! Love the step by step. I might message u when I finally get these! I hope mine look half as good as yours!

    So,
    Miki
    http://mikialamode.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      I used to hate doing my nails at home because they’d always look pretty bad LOL. I never had the patience to let the nails fully dry before I started doing something to mess them up. Gel nails have been a lifesaver and I love that I can do it myself at home without spending a ton of money every two weeks to get them done! And if I don’t like the color for whatever reason I don’t need to feel bad about changing them out early. I wish we lived closer so we could have a movie/chill/nails girl night! Haha that would be so much fun. Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions about the process or any of the equipment used to create awesome gel nails at home πŸ™‚ I’m sure you’ll be just as hooked as I am! Talk soon Miki <3 xx

  • Briana
    January 11, 2018

    I’m the worst at doing my own nails! But its worth a shot if its gel!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      That’s exactly how I felt before I got into this! Let me tell ya, doing gel nails at home is so different from just using regular polish and the results (and no drying time really) definitely make it worth it.

  • Taylor Mobley
    January 12, 2018

    I love doing my own nails but have never tried gel before! I need to now!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      This will be a game changer for you then! It’s a lot of fun and is so economical!

  • Ankita Bardhan
    January 12, 2018

    The gel nails definitely look so posh and gorgeous but I am not sure if I will get such a flawless finish like you haha!
    http://realgirltalks.com/

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      Thank you Ankita! With practice I am sure you will achieve the look you want!

  • Mary
    January 12, 2018

    Need this whole setup!!! This would save so much money!

    – Mary
    http://www.MissMaryPowers.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      Yes girl!!! I’ve already saved hundreds since I got this, between doing my fingers and toes haha.

  • Jo
    January 12, 2018

    Thanks for your tips on using gel nail polish at home! I usually use regular nail polish but it does chip so easily, which is uber annoying! I’d love to give this a go at home because going to a salon for a gel manicure can get really expensive. I’m all for a cost effective DIY!

    xo, Jo

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      I know!!! I can’t stand how quickly regular polish chips and dents so easily. This gel kit has changed my manicure game and I save money for upgraded facials now. LOL!

  • Jessi Malay
    January 12, 2018

    How cute is that gel curing machine?! Love the print!! Now that I’m not preggo anymore, I can finally get gel nails again! So excited <3

    XO, Jessi
    https://jmalay.com/wear-chiffon-dress-winter/

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      I know right?! I actually got this specific machine because it was the cheapest and there was a deal going on on Amazon for it. They have other fun prints but the prices may vary. They all do the same thing but it’s certainly a plus to have one with a girly floral print πŸ™‚ I’m glad that you’re able to get back into gel nails! So much better than regular polish πŸ™‚

  • Lavenda Memory
    January 13, 2018

    This is such a great way to save time and money! I love that it’s so easy. πŸ™‚

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      Indeed! I’m all about style and beauty on a budget πŸ™‚

  • Gracie
    January 14, 2018

    You make it look so easy. I do spend too much on my nails and it takes up a lot of time at a salon. I need to try doing it myself. Great post.

    Xxgracie

    snappedbygracie.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      Aww thanks Gracie! It does take a lot of time at the salon and sometimes I just want to get my nails done quickly at home, and this does the job. It’s cost-effective and fun! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you do try πŸ™‚

  • Daniela
    January 14, 2018

    Looks so easy and it comes out to be a lot cheaper than I expected!

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      It totally pays for itself after 2-3 times of doing your own nails at home, so I think it’s totally worth a shot at least! It gets easier with practice too πŸ™‚

  • Samantha Mariko
    January 14, 2018

    These gels nails don’t look DIY at all! Looks straight out of a nail salon! I should really invest in a gel nail kit so I can just do them at home. Getting gel nails done in Japan can be so expensive! I also love how you can peel them off when you’re done with them πŸ™‚
    xo Samantha

    • Sharon Wu
      January 14, 2018

      Awww thanks Samantha! I’m glad you think they turned out well too. I am happy with how they turned out and I totally agree — getting nails done at the salon can be costly wherever you go really. Technically these are “soak off” polishes, which are supposed to soak off easily with acetone or something. They sort of peel off by the 2-3 week mark for me though so I haven’t found myself needing to properly soak them off. My nails don’t look or feel damaged either which is a plus πŸ™‚

  • Christine Kong
    January 14, 2018

    I’ve tried gel polish at home but not with that machine like they use in the salon. I typically use the OPI Gel Polish with the top coat but I’ve always been curious to try this real gel style at home. Your nails turned out perfectly and look totally like you got them done at a salon! I definitely need gel because my nails get ruined in one day with all the mommy stuff I do. I need to check this out and for only $75, you definitely get your money’s worth! xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

    • Sharon Wu
      January 15, 2018

      I’ve tried something like the OPI Gel Polish too but I always felt like the quality never matched the salon so I wanted to give this one a go. No regrets so far! It’s so easy to use and doesn’t take a long time. I’ve cut curing time from the safe 60 seconds each round to 30 seconds and just cure the top coat 60 seconds πŸ™‚ Would love to hear your thoughts on it if you do try it!

  • Bernice
    January 15, 2018

    Omg your gel nails turned out so good! I’ve wanted to try them ever since Jenna Marbles’ video, and now this has convinced me haha love it xx

    https://www.bunnybernice.com/single-post/2018/01/15/My-Oleg-Cassini-Wedding-Dress-Experience

    • Sharon Wu
      January 15, 2018

      Thanks Bernice! You should totally give it a go!

  • Jenelle
    January 15, 2018

    I DIY paint mine all the time, but not using anything long lasting. The ladies in my partners family all love to get their nails done in salons once a week but I have only had it done once. This would be a good little gift for them for next Christmas, thank you for the tip!
    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 15, 2018

      I was the same way before darling! I would use regular polish and it would chip within a few hours somehow -__- LOL. I have the luxury to do gels weekly now since I don’t have to pay a hefty cost each time to get them done at the salon. πŸ˜‰

  • Stephanie Caligiuri
    January 15, 2018

    I love using gel polish at home too! Yours looks amazing, pretty color!

    xo, Steph
    http://www.urbanblonde.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 15, 2018

      Yay! I’m glad to hear you do too! It’s such an economical way to keep our fingertips looking on point! Haha <3

  • Jessica
    January 16, 2018

    Wow, that’s easily one of the cutest curing machines I’ve seen out there. Also, love your picks in colors dear.

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

  • Lauren
    January 16, 2018

    Okay, I need this gel kit in my life! Love the color you picked out.

    Xx,

    Lauren | lifestylesbylauren.com

    • Sharon Wu
      January 16, 2018

      Thanks Lauren! I’m obsessed with mine! Haha

  • Aliya
    January 17, 2018

    I’ve never tried gel nails but you make it look so easy. I will share this post with my sister as she loves this kind of stuff. Thanks for the step by step details. Your nails look fab

    • Sharon Wu
      January 19, 2018

      Thank you honey! I hope your sister will enjoy it πŸ™‚ It’s a ton of fun!

  • marcy
    January 18, 2018

    This sounds so perfect babe. I have actually never done any gel nails but after reading this post I’m tempted to get the entire equipment to also do it my self.
    I love the color you choose btw! Thanks for sharing!

    xoxo
    Marcy

    • Sharon Wu
      January 19, 2018

      You should totally try it! It’s life changing LOL

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