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How To Do Gel Nails At Home

How To Do Gel Nails At Home

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Created 2/19/18. Last updated 3/20/20.

Since this blog post has been published, I have purchased several gel polishes and done my nails consistently over the last couple of years. I still get a pedicure done at the salon, but love that I have the ease of doing my manicures at home.

You asked – here it is, how to do gel nails at home and on a budget! I’ll do the official blog post and update this once it’s been 10-14 days, but so far, I’ve had no issues with the products.

Last Week, I asked you what you would do – 1) Get Them Professionally Done or 2) Paint Your Own Nails. Stuck at 50/50 for a good chunk of the day, 247 of you finally pulled through to win with painting my own nailsYAY!

After combing through my messages with recommendations and researching product reviews, this is what I ended up with.

Gel Nails At Home Products

  • Gel Machine // The machine I have is no longer available for purchase, but this was has amazing reviews, is super affordable, and travel friendly!
  • Gel Polish Set // Awesome reviews, recommend. Plus, this is a set of SIX mini polishes, which is even better, because I KNOW I would not be able to go through a whole bottle and now I have six different color options for under $20! These come with different color set options, I went with the Nude Grays.
  • My go to colors include this DND Short n’ Sweet Gel.
  • Gel Base Coat & Top Coat or Gelish Brand Starter Kit // of these. I snagged these for under $8 (mini versions). They didn’t smell bad, they worked really well, and they say it makes your color last for 2+ weeks. We shall see!
  • Cotton Rounds // I have a zillion of these at home, either works, but make sure you don’t get cheap ones. You’ll be using them to soak off your gel too.
  • Soak Off Gel Polish Remover & Nail Surface Cleaner // This is a great option and has good reviews. If you get the Gelish kit you don’t need this combo!
  • Nail Art Stickers // I put these on in between the last polish layer and the top coat.

Gel Nails At Home Process

  1. Clip and File Nails.
  2. Push Back Cuticles.
  3. Clean with Nail Surface Cleaner or Wash Hands – no soap.
  4. Thin Layer of PH Bond – this allows the gel to bond better to the nail
  5. Thin Layer of Base/Foundation Coat – This step is super important, be sure to get your whole nail + Cure – time may vary depending on what machine you have. I say at least 60 seconds minimum, but usually stay under for 90 seconds.
  6. Thin Layer of Color + Cure
  7. 2nd Layer of Color + Cure
  8. *Optional*: If you are doing nail art stickers, this is the time to add them!
  9. Top Coat + Cure
  10. Wipe with Rubbing Alcohol or Acetone. I do a really quick wipe, I don’t let it sit on top very long. Mainly to get the sticky residue off.
  11. Swipe each nail with the Gelish Nourish or cuticle oil.

That’s It! Took me about 20-25 minutes and I did each hand separately.

At Home Gel Nails Sticker Art

Cost of Doing Your Own Nails

I ended up spending about $50, since I did have some of these products already at home. But $50 on products that should last at least 1 year… that’s less than $4.17/mth and I usually do my nails every 2.5 weeks so that’s $2.xx per mani.

Not bad. Plus, no extra time spent driving, less gas to use, and I have multiple color choices!

10 Day Update

So there started to be some lifting when I ran my nails through my hair and a couple chips due to some home projects we were working on, but overall they still look GREAT! I am so happy with how well they are holding up. Gel Nails At Home

13 Day Update

Welp – one of them lifted too much and I peeled the rest of it off. I am very weird about having one nail chipped or peeled off and definitely impatient, so ya girl peeled all 10 gel nails off – which isn’t the best thing to do – SOAK

IN ACETONE. But, I will say, to my surprise, they didn’t leave any weird residue or lift much if any of my natural nail with the polish, which I loved! I was able to quickly buff them out and apply a new color in 20 minutes. My nails weren’t brittle or anything!

I definitely think this is a great option for 10-14 day gel nails at home. It is easy, fun, and not a lot of upkeep.

I know you can add a primer under your base coat to get it to stay even longer, but I am trying to limit the amount of things I use on my nails to keep them strong and healthy. YAY! Let me know what you think!How To Do Gel Nails At Home

xo, L



  1. Sami Mast
    March 5, 2018 / 5:01 pm

    I really want to get myself an at home gel machine! I think it would definitely save me some money!

    The Classic Brunette

    • March 5, 2018 / 6:03 pm

      It totally does! And it is so nice being able to do it in the comfort of my own home. Can’t beat less than $3 + 20 minutes per mani!

  2. Miss ALK
    March 5, 2018 / 6:13 pm

    I get my manicures done in a salon (It’s my #TreatYoSelf splurge!) but I think it’s awesome to find ways to do them yourself well!! I still do my pedicures myself at home 🙂

    xoxo A

    • March 9, 2018 / 7:05 am

      I use to, too! But it was always an added expense on top of other things I splurge on! I’m all about treating yourself, so I still go in for a pedicure, but for a manicure, it is just so convenient and saves me money doing it at home!

  3. Azanique
    March 5, 2018 / 7:47 pm

    I definitely need to learn how to do my nails at home. What a great way to save your money!

    -xo, Azanique | http://www.lotsofsass.com

  4. March 5, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    So neat!!! I usually get shellac just because it lasts so long. I get a good month out of my nails polish.

  5. March 6, 2018 / 5:17 am

    I never even thought of doing gel nels at home! My nails are almost never painted unless I get them done at the salon (which is like twice a year.) I would be interested in trying this out!

  6. March 6, 2018 / 10:47 am

    I really love this! I’m so bad at painting my own nails but I feel like gel polish can be so forgiving.

  7. March 6, 2018 / 4:17 pm

    I used to do my nails all the time a couple of years ago and it is actually so easy to get good results at home if you practice for a while. I’ve never done gel nails though, but I would like to try.

    • March 9, 2018 / 7:04 am

      Gel Nails are awesome! I used to paint them with regular polish, but they chips so easily after you’ve just spent forever painting them and letting them dry. Gel is so nice!

  8. March 7, 2018 / 7:21 am

    I’ve been using at-home LED activated gel polishes for about a year and I have literally saved SO MUCH $$$ on manicures haha! Once you get the hang of applying it (and figure out the best way to remove it — such a pain at first!), then it’s really actually very fun and relaxing to do your own nails at home 🙂

  9. March 7, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    This is awesome! I’ve thought about getting akit to do my own nails at home SO many times. This might just have helped me make up my mind!

    Molly // Miss Molly Moon

  10. March 7, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    You did such a good job!!! I do my nails at home most of the time but it’s just not the same as getting it professionally done haha. I definitely need some practice.

  11. March 9, 2018 / 12:54 pm

    I always do my own gel nails at home! I not only saves money, but lots of time too!