How to Do a Gel Manicure at Home (PHOTOS)

Adriana Velez | Aug 21, 2014 Beauty & Style

manicureI got my first gel manicure a couple summers ago. As someone whose manicures typically last about two days I was thrilled that the new treatment lasted a whole month. But when I showed my sister she said, "Lovely! Promise me you'll never do it again."

Why? Because the downside of gel manicures is that removing the enamel is rough on your nails. Plus, the in-salon curing process exposes you to UV rays, which are a slight skin cancer risk. And finally, the manicures are pretty dang expensive.

It was just a matter of time before smart beauty companies came up with the ultimate compromise: At-home gel manicures that don't require a special UV lamp. Here's how they work.

diy gel manicure

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Have you tried a gel manicure, in-salon or at-home, yet? What did you think?


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  • About At-Home Gel Polishes


    Image via yenyeniyen/Instagram

    Sally Hansen sent The Stir their Miracle Gel™ for a test drive. It's more expensive than most drug store nail polish, but still far cheaper than a salon treatment. The manicure should last 14 days, according to the manufacturer's website. (Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish Duo, $14 at Target)

  • Step 1: Apply Color Coat Directly to Nails


    Image via SpiralVisionLife/YouTube

    You don't use a base coat for this manicure, and you don't have to sand the top of your nails. Just apply the color coat right on your nails. We recommend applying three coats of the color for best results. Wait at least 5 minutes between applying coats.

  • Step 2: Apply Gel Topcoat


    Image via SpiralVisionLife/YouTube

    Now apply the gel topcoat over your nails. Let dry completely, at least half an hour.

  • Lasts 3-4 Days Before Chipping


    Image via SpiralVisionLife/YouTube

    Like a lot of you, I'm rough on my nails. Sadly, it took just three days before the tips of my nails began to chip away.

    Other than that, though, the maincure lasted far longer than an ordinary manicure would last on my nails. My pedicure is still going strong after almost two weeks. (Note: These are not my nails in the photo.)

  • Is It Worth It?


    Image via alexisavery/Instagram

    Even thought the gel wasn't as durable as we would have liked, we think applying an extra coat and just keeping nails trimmed at fingertip level will make the manicure last longer. The polish is easily removed with polish remover and cotton balls. It's a solid compromise for a less-expensive, UV-free, longer-lasting manicure.


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