Gel manicure is one of the most popular services in nail salons. Also, many people do it themselves at home. So, what is a gel manicure?

Gel manicure is a combination of a manicure and gel polish. A regular or traditional manicure with gel polish will last up to two weeks. The longer wear of gel polish is one reason that gel manicure is the preferred choice over the manicure with the old regular polish. The other reason is gel polish becomes solid after it is cured so no drying time is needed.

The rest of this article will go into detail about doing a manicure and how to apply gel polish properly to have a gel manicure that can last two weeks.

How to do a manicure for gel polish

The process of giving a manicure to someone or yourself for gel polish is the same way as giving a traditional manicure with one big exception: the nail surface has to be perfectly clean, dry and PH balanced. This will ensure the gel polish stays on the natural nails as long as expected.

How to do a manicure for gel polish:

There is a total of 7 steps in doing a quick and simple manicure at home. Usually, you do not have to do all of them in every manicure but it is beneficial that if you skip or do not a particular one, you should know why and confident that it will not affect the final result at all.

  1. Wash hands. Make sure to remove any oily residue around the cuticles and under the free edges and blot dry.
  2. Remove old polish if any.
  3. Cut/trim nails to the desired length.
  4. Remove or trim excessive cuticles. This can be done by nipping cuticles dry or after soaking. Gently buff the entire nail surface. Three or four back and forth gentle strokes are sufficient. Overdoing this will thin out the nail needlessly.
  5. Do buff the tip or free edge of the nails to remove any burs.
  6. Clean the nail surface with alcohol and apply the bonder/dehydrator.
  7. Apply primer if required by gel polish manufacturer. Use a small fan to dry nail surface 1 minute or air dry for 3 minutes before applying gel polish base coat.

From my experience with gel polish, I would recommend that you follow these steps faithfully like I do when I did gel manicures for my customers. It will take the guesswork out of the job if something goes wrong and mostly the final gel manicure will be perfect the first time.

Practice doing manicure using the steps above until they become second nature, you will be able to perform a manicure like an experienced nail technician.

All of the steps above will ensure the nail surface is dry, free from oil, lotion, or moisture and create a clean nail surface for gel polish.

How to apply gel polish on natural nails

After the manicure, the nails are ready for gel polish. Similar to traditional polish, gel polish also has a basecoat, colors, and topcoat.

Gel polish is usually thicker than regular polish so it will take some practice to apply gel polish.

Another difference is gel polish has to be cured under a UV light source or it will not be “dry”. Follow the applying steps below to ensure that you do it right the first time.


  1. Apply the base coat: after you put a gel base coat on five nails, cure them under a UV LED nail lamp for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do the same on the other hand.
  2. Apply the first layer of color gel polish on five nails and cure for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Do the same on the other hand.
  3. Apply the second layer of color gel polish (if necessary) on five nails and cure for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Do the same on the other hand.
  4. Now apply the gel top coat on five nails and cure for 1 minute. Do the same on the other hand.
  5. If your gel polish brand needs to be cleaned to remove the final sticky inhibition layer, do so.

Now you have done a gel manicure.

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Things you should keep in mind when doing gel polish at home to get a great result:

Always try to apply gel polish as thin as possibleOpens in a new tab.. Thin gel polish will cure evenly and smoothly. If you put thick gel polish on the nails, it will not cure right and you will have wrinkling, bubblingOpens in a new tab., or shrinkingOpens in a new tab. problems.

Always try to cover the free edge or cap as you do every layer of base coat, gel color, and topcoat. This will help extend the life of gel polish and reduce chipping.

Gel polish is expected to last up to 2 weeks with normal use of hands. This means that you should refrain from using your hands as a tool, or craping or scratching hard, rough surfaces.

Happy gelling.

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