Gel manicures (like, actual gel polish NOT Essie’s Gel Couture) are the only thing that I can get a guaranteed week or so out of. I have pretty weak nails, wash lots of dishes, and work with my hands a lot so regular polish is a complete waste of time. The only regular nail polishes I’ve had success with that do not require soaking in acetone to remove nor a light to cure the polish is Essie’s Gel Couture and CND’s Vinylux. I can get a few great days with no chips from these lines, but if I need to KNOW my nails aren’t going to have any chips, I go with gel nails.
A few years ago, perhaps 2-3 years ago, I purchased a UV light and tried doing my own gel manicure at home. I found the product to be really difficult to work with. It kept pulling back from the tip of the nail and ended up really bubbly as well. I resolved that this would just have to be something I’d need to pay for if I wanted it done. So, fairly regularly for the past few years, I’ve been going to nail salons to get a gel manicure. It typically costs around $32-40 and that can add up fast! It’s worth it to me, not only because I like my nails polished, but I do so much filming/photos that my hands are in that I feel like I look a bit more professional with polished nails.
Scheduling those appointments has become trickier with growing boys and a busy schedule, and sometimes the tech I’m paired with doesn’t always do that good of a job. So when I saw the Gelish Complete Starter Kit at the pro beauty store I decided to try it again. I’ve had great results from Gelish polishes and wanted to see if this was going to be different than my experience years before.
As it turns out, it’s COMPLETELY different and it has made doing my own gel mani’s totally doable. In fact, I’ve had better results from the ones I’ve done on myself than what I’ve gotten at the salon recently. I’m finding some of the techs to be sloppy with the application and get the polish on my cuticles, which is basically the worst thing you can do because the gel will simply peel away. Beyond the better results, I’m able to do it at 9:00p at night when I would otherwise be scrolling Instagram in my bed. Time MUCH better spent, in my opinion.
So this is the kit I bought. The colors it comes with are a little blah, but I found a nice grey by Gelish at the pro beauty store that I purchased that day. I’ve since bought 2 more shades in the brand CND Shellac that I like.
It’s steep at the beginning because you are investing in all the tools you need, but after 3 home manicures, it has paid for itself. The ease of using it and success I’ve had has made it all worth it!
If you are doing your own at-home gel manicure, with the UV light, here are a few tips I’ve learned from my experience.
- Do not go near the cuticle. As tempted as you may be, you are so much better off staying slightly away from it than going to close because once it touches it, it’s over. I mean, you could use an orangewood stick to scrape it off, but it’s much easier to just stay away from the edges.
- Take the time to push back and nip any long cuticles first. Then buff your nails to slightly “rough up” the surface a bit. The polish will adhere better.
- Use thin coats. Bubbles are the worst and they are a result of coats of nail polish that are too thick (both with gel and regular polish). A thin coat of the base is much better than something overly thick.
- Follow the curing directions based on your product. Don’t try to overdo it but curing it with extra time in the light, once it’s cured, it’s cured.
Let me know if you end up trying it! And, if you decide to stick to regular polish, don’t forget to try out some of my favorite fall & winter colors! Also, loving this pretty poncho and these gloves for winter!