Home FamilyPersonal DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure Tutorial

DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure Tutorial

by TerriAnn
DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure - tutorial using Nailuv kit and LED light #nailart

DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure - tutorial using Nailuv kit and LED light #nailart

Some people enjoy going to the nail salon and getting Shellac on their nails. This salon polish promises to stay on up to 14 days with no chipping or cracking. That’s all fine and dandy but what if, like mine, your nails grow so fast that the polish looks bad after just one week – so not worth $35 each time. Now, many companies are offering DIY at-home gel polish kits at various price points.

At-Home Gel Polish Supplies

Individual pieces of these kits can mostly be interchanged. The basic items needed are:

  • LED lamp (not UV, cheaper but takes longer and is bad for your skin)
  • Bonder
  • Base Coat
  • Top Coat (sometimes the base and top coat are combined)
  • Gel Polish (normal polish will NOT work the same)

DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure - tutorial using Nailuv kit and LED light #nailart

To begin, you will have to push back your cuticles and lightly file off the shiny surface of each nail. Next, use a lint-free pad to clean the oil off your fingers. The ‘cleaner’ solution in most kits are basically made of rubbing alcohol so I’ve found it easiest to just use alcohol swabs, like the ones for first-aid kits.

Applying At-Home Gel Polish

  1. Apply bonder. Let air dry (only takes a few seconds).
  2. Apply base coat. Make sure to ‘seal’ the polish by applying it along the tip edge as well. Cure under LED lamp for 30-45 seconds.
  3. Apply gel color. Again, seal the polish on the edge. Cure under LED lamp for 45-60 seconds.
  4. Apply second coat of gel color. Cure under LED lamp for 45-60 seconds. An additional coat can be added to reach desired opacity.
  5. Apply top coat and seal edge. Cure under LED lamp for 30-45 seconds.

Curing your nails just means letting it sit under the LED light. Polish dries within seconds. If the lamp has a small opening, you can do your fingers first and thumbs later. Not all LED lamps are created equal as some have timers, some are portable, and some are large enough to fit your whole hand at one time or even your foot.

DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure - tutorial using Nailuv kit and LED light #nailart

To remove the polish, you’re supposed to soak a cotton ball in the special remover liquid (basically acetone) and secure it to your nail with aluminum foil. Wait about 15 minutes for it to get soft for easy removal. This is better for your nails but tedious. Instead, I end up peeling all the polish off and letting my nails recover for a week in between applications. It’s kind of fun and somehow therapeutically calming.

Nailuv Kit – Price VS Quality

I bought a kit by NaiLuv because it was only $30 at Costco. The lamp has no timer, the colors included were kind of ugly, and the polish tends to shrink when curing. If I wanted a better set-up, it’d cost me at least double so, for now, this is good enough. I just use my mobile phone as a timer and picked up some better gel polish colors from another brand (they were on sale and I had a coupon). It is small so I need to do my thumbs separately. But, the polish cures so much faster than regular polish that the whole process takes less time overall.

DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure - tutorial using Nailuv kit and LED light #nailart

The polish definitely lasts longer. Sometimes, regular polish would chip on the first day. With the gel polish, I can wash dishes, scrub counters, etc. and they’ll stay in perfect, shiny condition until I’m ready to take it off (about 10 days). It even stays looking nice on my daughter…until she peels it off.

Have you tried DIY at-home gel polish or would you?

You may also like


Shop with Me Mama February 7, 2014 - 11:39 am

I have always wanted to try out the gel nail polish. I would love to own a cute little kit like yours, how fun! Me and my daughter would have a blast with that! We are always painting our nails together 🙂 I love how yours turned out! So shiny and pretty!

Justine February 7, 2014 - 4:46 pm

Do not let you’re daughter peel the gel off her nails!! Please!! This will ruin her little nails

TerriAnn van Gosliga February 7, 2014 - 5:54 pm

I agree. That’s why I haven’t done hers since and I’m even giving my own a break for a couple of weeks. I think resisting that urge to peel is part of the learning curve 🙂

Tammy February 7, 2014 - 5:03 pm

I’ve seen these kits in the store and always wondered how/if they worked. I’m not sure I’d use it enough to justify it, but I’m going to tell my sister to read this post because she spends a ton of money getting manicures done 😉

Donna February 7, 2014 - 6:34 pm

I’ve recently gotten shellac done and although I’m very frugal and it was only the 2nd time I’ve ever had a mani in my life (I’m almost 50)… I think I may be hooked. It was awfully nice to have someone do them and for it to last 2 weeks. 🙂 Even if I got a set up like your, I’d still need someone to do them. 🙂

Toni February 7, 2014 - 7:14 pm

Oh wow, that looks really nice. So much cheaper than a salon.

Marcie W. February 7, 2014 - 8:18 pm

Want want want!! Standard nail polish lasts two days (if I’m lucky), yet a gel manicure at my salon is $23, so I only splurge for special occasions. If I had this system I could hook myself up all the time, anytime! Will absolutely be purchasing this!

Julie February 7, 2014 - 8:39 pm

I’ve been dying to try this at home – it’s so expensive to get it done at the salon on a regular basis!

HilLesha February 7, 2014 - 9:22 pm

I don’t bother ever getting manicures since my nails barely grow (and I don’t even bite them). However, I have heard of gel nail polishes, and they sound quite intriguing.

Anne - Mommy Has to Work February 8, 2014 - 5:17 am

My cousin uses something like this, bit I’m okay with regular polish.

Samantha Cummings February 8, 2014 - 6:19 am

I wish I had the ability to do my own manicures! I can’t even paint the right hand with the left hand! 😉 This came out great though.

Penelope Guzman (NYC Blogger) February 8, 2014 - 7:33 am

A manicure always makes me look more polished, maybe doing it at home would encourage me to have nicer nails more often

LyndaS February 8, 2014 - 8:59 am

I have tried it but I think the kit I bought was too cheap. I have a hard time keeping polish on my nails.

Jenn February 8, 2014 - 8:59 am

I would totally try it. I don’t bother putting polish on my fingernails right now because it chips within a day.

Raijean February 8, 2014 - 9:10 am

How cool, I need to try this for Manicure Monday!

Shell Feis February 8, 2014 - 1:51 pm

I never paint my nails because I never have enough time for them to dry & they get super messed up- and start chipping the next day. A gel manicure sounds like the perfect fix! {Though, maybe with a different kit.}

Tiff @ Babes and Kids February 8, 2014 - 3:30 pm

I’ve used the nail shields a lot but not the gel polish. I can’t believe it was only $30, even if the colors were ugly. Especially if you would pay $35 to have someone else do it once. I’m going to have to look for it at Costco. Your nails look fab!

Robin Gagnon {Mom Foodie} February 8, 2014 - 6:05 pm

I only paint my toenails… I don’t see why I couldn’t gel those 🙂

Kathleen February 8, 2014 - 6:31 pm

Ooh that did a great job. I tried one of these types of kits before and the stuff peeled and cracked, but it was not nearly as good as this, and did not come with a light.

Angela February 8, 2014 - 7:25 pm

The gel manicures at the salon can be so expensive. I’ve been curious about the home kits. Your DIY At-Home Gel Polish Manicure Tutorial is very helpful. Thanks!

Rachel @ following in my shoes February 8, 2014 - 8:25 pm

I have been getting shellac manicures but would DEFINITELY do them at home … cheaper in the long run!

Lucero @We Are Earthformed February 8, 2014 - 8:42 pm

Nail polish is an utter frustration for me. I go in rounds of “I need to have my nails painted” to not giving a flying fart how they look because I’m so ticked off at the nail polish effects on my nails and the lack luster results of my D.I.Y. manicure. Gel nails is one thing I’ve wanted to try, but have been too nervous to attempt. Cost is the main deterrent for both the at home and in salon options. I like the fact that the gel sets up a lot faster and lasts longer without chipping than regular nail polish.

Ty @ Mama of 3 Munchkins February 8, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Unfortunately, I don’t paint my nails! They grow extremely too fast, so it’s not worth it. I can clip them this week and in two week they’ll be at least a inch long. But, I’ve never heard of this and it does sound a bit more easier than going to a high-priced salon.

Tricia Nightowlmama February 8, 2014 - 10:38 pm

My girls are really obsessed with doing their nails. My niece loves to add designs and she does her friends nails. She really is so very creative. I’ll have to show her this I bet she’d love to have the kit

Becca @ Mama B February 9, 2014 - 5:21 pm

I like going in for a mani/pedi every few weeks because it’s some nice R&R 😉

Colleen February 9, 2014 - 6:23 pm

I’m so afraid of trying something like this at home, I love getting gel polish though.

Lolo February 9, 2014 - 11:06 pm

10 days is great! And like you said, sometimes with regular polish I swear it is chipped within the first hour.

April Decheine February 10, 2014 - 5:13 pm

This would be a great gift for my daughter, her nails are beautiful and natural! Mine not so much 🙂

Kelsey Apley February 11, 2014 - 12:24 pm

I love Gel Nails, and I do it at home, saves money and is kind of fun to do!!!

Rosey February 11, 2014 - 2:00 pm

I haven’t tried it, but I definitely would! Your nails look great!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell February 12, 2014 - 8:08 pm

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while so I’m glad you were the guinea pig! Now I’ll go ahead and go for it!

Vanessa: thequeenofswag February 12, 2014 - 9:48 pm

What a cute set. I love that it has a heart nail dryer.

Kelsey Apley February 13, 2014 - 10:29 am

I love Gel Nails, they are so nice and last a ton longer than regular polish!!! Looks like a great kit!

Comments are closed.