DIY At-Home Gel Manicure

DIY Gel Shellac Manicure Gelish COVER Julia Hengel Gal Meets Glam cover

I am by no means a beauty expert, but after being a captive audience for many beauty services, I can generally figure out how to do things for myself.  My most recent accomplishment in this regard has been doing my own gel manicures and pedicures.  After mediocre DIY success with a UV-light and another brand of products years ago, I reverted to getting my nails done at the salon.  But with a husband who works a ton, a full-time job, 2 kids at home and limited free time, I have to make every solo trip really count (and getting my nails done isn’t a priority when compared to exercising and let’s be honest, shopping).  

DIY Gel Shellac Manicure Gelish v1

So I recently invested in an LED-light and a pack of mini-bottles of Gelish polish.  And I cannot emphasize what a difference these products make – curing in less time, thinner, more manageable polish, broader color selection, I could go on and on.  For those of you who love to have your nails done but don’t have the time (or aren’t interested in paying for a Gel manicure every 2-3 weeks), this is an awesome solution.  Below are my tips:

DIY Gelish Mani-Pedi Tips

  1. Prep: Invest in prepping your cuticles before you begin.  I have Orly Cutique which does make a significant difference (learned the hard way when I skipped this step – the nail polish cannot touch your cuticles or it will dry into a ridge, so cuticle care is paramount).  I also use coconut oil to soften my cuticles. 
  2. Prep again: File your nails to “rough” them up a bit.  This helps the Gel adhere to your nails and results in longer wear.  Make sure to use a fine-grane emory board.  
  3. And yes, prep again: Do not skip the pH Bond step.  Again, always trying to save time I fast-tracked past this step and noticed that my polish started peeling more quickly.  
  4. Picasso:  As I mentioned, do not let any of the Gel products touch your cuticles with the thought that you can “tidy” it up later – it will cure into a ridge which, if you are anything like me, you will be unable to resist and will pick at for about a day until you chip your polish.  
  5. LED Light: I previously used a UV-light which took 2 minutes to cure each coat.  That is 4 coats per hand at 2 minutes, so I was spending 16 minutes just sitting around curing.  The LED-light takes 30 seconds per coat.  For me, that was the difference between watching one versus two shows while doing my nails, and most days, I don’t have that kind of time.  Plus, with the UV-light I was wearing fingerless gloves to prevent damage to my hands which were unwieldy and slowed me down. 
  6. Polish Remover: This tip is really two-fold: first, once you’re done your nails, use non-acetone nail polish to remove the tacky film covering your nails.  It will not ruin your hard work.  And when you’re ready to change up your polish, wrap little pieces of aluminum foil around remover-soaked cotton balls on your nails – works like a charm! 


  1. Prep cuticle and nails using cuticle cream/oil/product and fine-grane emory board;
  2. One coat pH Bond, let dry completely;
  3. One *thin* coat of Foundation (careful to avoid cuticles);
  4. Cure 30 seconds under LED light;
  5. One to three coats of color depending on desired opacity (curing 30 seconds after each);
  6. One *thin* coat of Top It Off;
  7. Cure 30 seconds under LED light;
  8. Wipe off tacky top film with non-acetone nail polish.

DIY Gel Shellac Manicure Gelish COVER Julia Hengel Gal Meets Glam cover Pinterest




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