Here’s How to Give Yourself a Gel Manicure At Home


July 23, 2021
Read Time: 5 minutes

No nail salon? No problem


Fact: manicurists are absolute rockstars. They’re literal artists and technicians in a league of their own, with dexterity and attention to detail that most of us could only aspire to have. Their skills, worn like a badge of honor, are honed by nothing less than years of painstakingly filing and buffing and painting. This is especially true for those who work with intricate nail art and gel nails, which were a salon-only specialty once upon a time. Honestly, they deserve more credit.

But see, the nail salon understandably isn’t a go-to place in the time of the pandemic. Having lived in constant fear of touch for so long, the thought of having someone so close in proximity is all sorts of daunting, to say the least.

With nailbeds to care for and no salons to turn to, we’ve been left to our own devices—literally. We’ve picked up a healthy amount of quarantine hobbies anyway, why not add DIY gel manicures to the list?


Here’s the guide you needed. Discover how to do a gel manicure at home:


RELATED: The Unexpected Hair Trend of 2021: The Perm


Nail Care

You wouldn’t do your makeup without doing your skincare first (if you can’t relate, PLEASE REFLECT). In the same way, your nails require their fair share of prep before your at-home gel manicure.

Some nail art YouTubers have extensive preparation routines, but these three tools are all you really need to get the job done.

CARONIA Cuticle Remover, P38

OMG Steel Nail Pusher, P80

OMG Nail Nipper, P200

After washing your hands, drop a small amount of cuticle remover on each nail. This solution softens the skin, making it easier to lift any extra skin that might get in the way of your paint job. Go in with a curve nail pusher after, using one end to push your cuticles away. If you have any extra skin to take care of, having a nipper in handy helps!


Shaping & Prepping

With a clean canvas ready, the next step is whipping (read: filing) those nails into shape.

While nail clippers are an everyday essential for the average, non-manicuring person, DIY nail artists recommend a different kind for shaping your nails. Instead of a curved end, opt for a straight edge. This is surprisingly easier to work with.

BOBBIE Nail Experts Series Straight Nail Clipper, P99

OMG Black Nail File, P30

LAMEILA Nail Buffer Block, P36

And then there are nail files and buffers. While the standard, store-bought versions should be just fine for beginners, there’s merit in learning about the different shapes and grits as you go along. For instance, higher grit is softer, while lower grit equates to a coarser texture. Depending on the shape and grit of your nail file or buffer, you can shorten, contour or roughen different portions of the nail. 

Clip and file your nails into your desired shape. In case you need a little inspiration, here’s a nifty little guide:

Thereafter, buff the surface of the nail to remove slip and shine. Eliminating these factors will allow the gel polish to adhere better in the next step!


Priming & Painting

Speaking of adherence, gel nails perform better with primer just like faces do. Coat your nail in a layer of dehydrator and primer (often sold as a set) and let dry. Then, go in with the base coat.

Unlike with standard nail polish, a base coat is a necessity for gel manicures. With all the buffing and curing involved in the process, you’ll need a safety net to stop the polish from staining your nail. Stick your hand under your UV lamp to cure the base coat, and wipe your nails with a non-fibrous cloth or kitchen towel (unless you have a non-wipe base!).

UR SUGAR Prep Step Nail Dehydrator and Primer, P100

ROSALIND Base Coat, P154


Speaking of curing, a safe range for curing your nails would be anywhere between 60 to 90 seconds. This depends on the thickness of the coat and the polish itself. Consider it an experiment and do a little trial and error to see what works best for you.

Once the base dries, get into the thick of it with your desired color. Neutrals, pastels, glitter finishes, sheer or opaque—there’s a whole wealth of gel nail polish options online. Some of our favorites include AnotherSexy’s color and jelly ranges.

ANOTHERSEXY Gel Polish (Brown Series), P144

ANOTHERSEXY Jelly Gel Polish (Oyster White Collection), P147

It may take two or three coats to get the payoff you’re after, depending on the brand and consistency of your polish. Remember to clean off any polish on your skin and cure between coats!

Top your color off with glitter, a gradient or even embellishments. Finish it off with a top coat, cure for a minute and call it done.


RELATED: COS Opens Its First Store in the Philippines


Looking for another quarantine project? We’ve got some ideas. How about giving mushroom growing or livestreaming a shot?


Art Matthew Fetalver

Share on facebook
Share on tumblr
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Most Popular

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Don't miss a thing

Stay up to date to the latest news and articles.