How to do Gel Nails At Home: Easy DIY Beginner’s Guide

gel nails DIY at home

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If you are trying, for the first time, to do your gel nails at home, you are in the right place.

Months ago, I tried for the first time to do my own gel nails at home.

Because who doesn’t want to avoid spending salon money?


(I do love going to the salon, though, not the money it costs haha)

So I know that for MANY reasons, some of us can’t go to the salon as often as gel nails are needed.

SO I tried to do it myself for the first time, and honestly, the result was very pleasing.

I bought all my things to do it at home

(pretty cheap/reasonably priced if you count that you are saving several salon visits)

And I found that:

  1. Doing your own gel nails at home is actually pretty EASY
  2. It’s way cheaper than salon nails
  3. It’s not fast, and it’s kind of a tedious/laborious task but RELAXING.
  4. I love to have that “me” time when I do my own nails at home.

So I thought that It would be a good idea to share all of what and I’ve learned with you.

So here’s my complete beginner’s gel nails guide and gel extensions tutorial.

Because yes, I became such a pro in a short period of time that I ALSO use gel extensions now, haha

Let’s begin

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Gel nails at home: Materials you need

First things first, what we need:

What You Need to Get Started

IMPORTANT: I got this affordable gel kit from amazon and that’s the one I’m using for this tutorial.

I highly recommend getting a kit like that because it includes EVERYTHING you need in a bundled price. It’s way more expensive getting each thing separately.

And this kit here it’s complete and really high quality.

Whether you get a full kit like the one above or not,

Here’s what you’ll need to do gel nails at home:

  • Gel nail polish ( Several colors if you want to have variety to get creative with the designs) this gel nails kit includes 32 different colors.
  • Base coat and top coat (included in the kit above)
  • UV or LED lamp (included in the kit above)
  • Nail buffer (included in the kit above)
  • Cuticle pusher (included in the kit above)
  • Nail file (included in the kit above)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton pads and paper towels

Remember that this GEL nails kit here includes all these things on the list.

STEP 1: Prepping your nails

Alright, listen up nail-lovers!

Before we can get into the fun part of applying gel nails, we gotta make sure our nails are prepped and ready to go.

Think of it like a canvas for a masterpiece – you gotta make sure it’s clean and primed before you can start painting on it!

preping our nails correctly it’s also super important to ensure that our gel last on our nails

1.First things first, get rid of any old nail polish that’s still clinging on to your nails.

gel nails at home, removing nail polish

You don’t want any funky colors or textures messing with your new gel nails.

Use some trusty nail polish remover and wipe your nails clean.

2. Next up, it’s time to shape those bad boys!

shaping your nails for gel nails at home

File your nails to your desired shape – square, round, pointy – it’s all up to you!

IF YOU ARE ALSO DOING GEL NAIL EXTENSIONS, THIS IS THE TIME TO APPLY THEM.

If you are doing gel on your natural nails, continue with the next step.


If you are interested in gel nail extensions, keep scrolling for the gel extensions tutorial below.

3. And don’t forget to buff the tops of your nails to remove any natural shine.

This helps the gel adhere to your nails better and lasts longer.

4. Now it’s time for a little cuticle work.

pushing cuticle for gel nails at home

Gently push back your cuticles with a cuticle pusher.

Don’t go too crazy though – we don’t want any bleeding fingers!

Use a cuticle remover kit like this one that has a special liquid to detach the cuticle from the nail, wait a few minutes after the application then remove the excess of cuticle with the tools included on the kit:

NOTE: I have seen SO MANY people doing crazy cuticle work. Cuticles are there for a REASON.

The cuticles protect our nail area from foreign bodies entering the skin, REMOVING ALL the cuticles and even getting red cuticles around the nail is not a healthy practice.

So yes, removing the cuticle or most of it it’s important because failing to do so, can cause the gel to lift and do not last on the nail.

But let’s just be careful to harm our nails.

Alright, now that your nails are prepped and ready to go,

let’s get into the fun part – applying those gorgeous gel nails!

STEP 2: Applying your Gel polish

Okay, so you’ve prepped your nails and now it’s time to apply that gorgeous gel polish!

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, people!

Here’s how to do it:

1. First things first, primer for your nails.

It’s important to apply a nail dehydrator AND a primer.

Because it prevents it from humidity to getting stuck between the base coat and the natural nail.

To prevent nail fungus.

DISCLAIMER: Do not APPLY any product to your nails. If you see them yellow, green, or any color that doesn’t look normal, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your physician.

After the nail primer and dehydrator, now we are ready for the base coat.

No products found.

1.1 apply a thin layer of base coat to your nails.

Use the base coat from the gel nails kit I recommend above or a base coat like this one.

Don’t go too thick, or you’ll end up with a lumpy mess.

Then, pop those babies under the UV or LED lamp for the recommended time. (usually between 30-60 seconds)

2.Now it’s time for the fun part – the actual gel nail polish.

Choose your color and apply a thin layer to your nails.

This is where the magic happens, folks!

Make sure you cover the entire nail and don’t forget the tips and corners!

Then, back under the lamp, it goes for the recommended time. (30-60 seconds)

3. Design time!

gel nail polish design

Now, it’s the perfect time to get creative. You can add stickers, nail stamps or simply do a design with the different colors.

If you want t get inspired, check these 89 nail designs to try for your gel nails!

Here’s an affordable kit with gems and rhinestones with the gems glue.

Repeat step 2 until you achieve your desired design and color for EACH LAYER of gel polish.

PRO TIP: It’s important to cure on the UV lamp each layer of gel, for each color.

Trust me, it makes things way easier because you cure the gel and then work on another color on the gel that is set and not moving.

Don’t be shy. Layer it up!

Want a subtle nude look? Go for it.

Feeling bold with a pop of neon pink? You do you, girl!

The possibilities are endless.

4. Last but not least, it’s time to seal the deal with a top coat.

gel nail polish top coat application

This will give your nails that glossy, salon-worthy finish we all dream of.

Apply a thin layer and cure it under the UV or LED lamp for the recommended time.

And voila!

You’re now a certified gel nail pro.

So go ahead, flaunt those fabulous nails, and let everyone know you did it all by yourself!

Final touches for your gel nails

cuticle oil gel nails

Ah, the finishing touches! The cherry on top of your freshly painted gel nails.

Here’s what you need to do:

After curing your nails, there may be a little bit of sticky residue left behind.

Don’t worry, this is totally normal!

Just grab some rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad, and gently wipe away that stickiness.

Ta-da! Your nails are now smooth as butter.

Next up, cuticle oil.

This step is often overlooked, but it’s oh so important.

I have this inexpensive and cute cuticle oil from sheglam.

Apply a little bit of cuticle oil to your cuticles and massage it in.

Not only will this make your cuticles look great, but it’ll also nourish them and help prevent hangnails.

Win-win!

Last but not least, some final tips.

Avoid exposing your nails to harsh chemicals or hot water for the first few hours after application.

Let that polish fully cure and settle in before doing any heavy-duty tasks.

And remember, patience is key.

Don’t rush the process or you may end up with smudged or dented nails.

Now go ahead and admire those beautiful, glossy gel nails of yours.

You did it!

How to do Gel Nails using Gel Extensions

Now, if you want to do gel nails at home, on GEL EXTENSIONS you’ll need the same kit as doing gel nails on your natural nails + gel extensions like these ones here.

If you’re looking for a way to add some oomph to your nails,

gel nail extensions can be a game-changer.

It’s like instant gratification for your fingertips!

You can have longer, more glamorous nails with gel nail extensions without waiting for your natural nails to grow out.

Before you start, ensure you have all the necessary items.

You’ll need gel nail extension forms or tips, gel nail builder gel, gel nail polish, a UV or LED lamp, a nail buffer, a cuticle pusher, a nail file, rubbing alcohol, and cotton pads.

Phew, that’s a lot of stuff!

But trust me, it’s worth it.

(and ALL of those things are included in this kit, in case you don’t want to buy each thing separately)

To begin, prep your natural nails as you would for regular gel nails.

That means removing any old nail polish and shaping your nails with a nail file. You’ll also want to push back your cuticles with a cuticle pusher gently.

Next, it’s time to apply the extension forms or tips.

1. Choose the size that best fits each of your natural nails

Try each size that is similar to your natural nail size.

Once you find the one that fits your nail best,

take another tip of the same size for the other hand and set it aside.

Ensure they’re snug so they won’t come off while you’re working.

NOTE: If you’re using forms, apply a small amount of builder gel to the form and spread it evenly over your nail.

(IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT FORMS ARE, this here is a poly gel kit)

Be careful not to get the gel too close to your cuticles!

But we are not touching gel extensions with poly gel, because that’s for another guide.

Now, Apply a small amount of builder gel to the underside of the tip, and place it on your natural nail.

Once the forms or tips are in place, it’s time to cure the gel under the UV or LED lamp.

Follow the recommended curing time, which is usually around 30-60 seconds.

If you’re using tips, trim them to your desired length.

Use a nail buffer to smooth out any bumps or ridges in the gel.

You want your nails to be as smooth as possible for the next step: applying the gel nail polish.

Choose your favorite color and apply it evenly to your nails. (FOLLOW THE GEL NAILS TUTORIAL ABOVE)

Cure them under the UV or LED lamp for the recommended time.

And voila! You now have gorgeous, long-lasting gel nail extensions that you can show off to your friends and family.

Just remember to take care of them by avoiding harsh chemicals and hot water for the first few hours after application.

And don’t forget to pamper your cuticles with some cuticle oil to keep them healthy and moisturized.

Gel extensions Alternative: Dip Powder Nails at home

Dip powder nails is a technique that consists of dipping your natural nail

OR your nail with a tip on a nail powder 1-3 times using a base coat and an activator,

resulting a acrylic like nails that you can leave like that or work on a gel design on top.

dip powder kit

Oh, dip powder nails! They’re all the rage right now and for a good reason.

Dip powder nails are durable, long-lasting, and come in a wide range of colors and finishes.

Plus, they’re super easy to apply at home.

Here’s everything you need to know about doing dip powder nails at home:

What You Need for Dip Powder Nails

  • Nail buffer Cuticle pusher Rubbing alcohol Cotton pads Small brush or toothbrush
  • Applying Dip Powder Nails

Here’s how to apply dip powder nails at home:

1.Prep your nails by following the same steps for regular gel nails,

including removing any old nail polish and shaping your nails with a nail file.

2. Apply the gel extensions (tips) and shape to the desired shape.

3. Apply a thin layer of base coat to your nails without curing it

4.dip them into the dip powder.

5. Tap off the excess powder and use a small brush to remove any remaining powder from your nails.

6.Apply another layer of base coat to your nails and dip them into the powder again.

Tap off the excess powder and use a small brush or toothbrush to remove any remaining powder from your nails.

Repeat step 6 until you achieve your desired thickness.

7.Apply the activator to your nails and let them dry for a few seconds.

8.Use a nail buffer to smooth out any bumps or ridges in the dip powder.

8. Now get creative and do a gel nail design or apply a thin layer of top coat to your nails and let them dry for a few minutes.

Use rubbing alcohol and a cotton pad to remove any sticky residue left on your nails after applying the top coat and finish with cuticle oil like with regular nails.

Related: Gel Nails vs. Dip Nails: A Beauty Professional’s Perspective

How to remove gel nails at home

Okay, it’s time to say goodbye to your beloved gel nails.

But fear not, removing them at home is easy peasy.

Here’s how to safely do it:

First, you’ll need to get your hands on some acetone and cotton pads.

1.Soak a cotton pad in acetone and place it on top of your nail.

Make sure it covers the entire nail, and then wrap your finger in foil to keep the cotton pad in place.

Do this for all of your nails.

Now comes the hard part: waiting.

2.Give the acetone time to do its thing and break down the gel polish.

This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes,

so feel free to catch up on your favorite Netflix

show or scroll through Instagram while you wait.

3.After the time is up, remove the foil and cotton pad from your nails.

You should be able to see that the gel polish has started to lift off your nail.

4.Use a cuticle pusher to push off the gel polish gently.

Be gentle.

You don’t want to damage your nails.

If the gel doesn’t come off easily, don’t force it.

Just repeat the process with fresh acetone and cotton pads until it does.

And that’s it!

Once you’ve removed all the gel polish,

4. make sure to apply nourishing cuticle oil to your nails to keep them healthy and strong.

And if you’re feeling adventurous,

go ahead and try out a new nail color or design!

Related: How to Remove Gel Nails at Home: Ultimate Guide

Final tips for DIY gel nails at home

Here are some final tips for achieving great gel nails at home:

Practice makes perfect: Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out perfect.

With practice, you’ll get better at applying gel nails.

Take care of your nails: Make sure to regularly moisturize your cuticles and nails to keep them healthy and strong.

Also, avoid exposing your nails to harsh chemicals or hot water, as this can cause your gel polish to lift or peel.

Invest in quality products: Invest in quality gel polish, base coat, top coat, and other necessary tools for the best results.

Follow the instructions: Always follow the instructions that come with your gel nail products,

especially when it comes to curing time and application.

Have fun: Doing gel nails at home can be a fun and creative way to express yourself.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and designs to create your own unique look.

In conclusion, doing gel nails at home is a fun and rewarding experience that can save you time and money.

With the right tools and techniques, you can achieve salon-quality nails from the comfort of your own home.

Remember to take your time, follow the instructions carefully, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and designs.

Whether you choose to do regular gel nails, gel nail extensions, or dip powder nails, always prioritize the health and safety of your natural nails.

More Nail Care Posts:

DIY gel nails at home

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