This is my first post I’ve written since redesigning my blog – woohoo! I’ve been a little quiet lately because I’ve been researching and figuring out so many things to make my beautiful Bellezza Corner sparkle but I’m finally writing again!
Today I wanted to walk you guys through doing gel (soak off, not the acrylic, semi permanent kind) nails at home. Gel nail polish is obviously an AMAZING invention, but it can get costly to do frequently. As someone who loves painting her own nails, I thought I’d just basically switch over to gel and continue to do them myself!
There are a few mishaps that can happen in a nail salon with gel nails, and this always made me a little nervous about getting them done. You never know how nail technicians have been trained to apply and remove various nail treatments, so I thought I’d figure it all out myself. After finding out all the tricks and tips I needed, my next stop is sharing those tricks with you!
One of the things that kept me from trying gel nails for a long time was the fear of how the polish is removed. I had heard some horror stories of how it ruins and thins your natural nail and I really didn’t want to experience that. When I realized I could figure out how to safely remove the polish myself, I started really getting into the whole project.
Is it healthy for your nails?
As someone who’s very concerned with using natural beauty products, I’ve struggled a bit in the nail polish department because I’ve heard conflicting information about nails being either “dead” or super porous so the absorb the chemicals, etc. However, I read some interesting information lately from a woman who owns a natural salon/spa (I don’t remember the details of the spa, just that the info really made sense and that she was referred by my favorite nutritionist!) and she was talking about how the part of the nails to really be concerned with is just the cuticle. The cuticle is part of your skin, is very much “alive” and should receive some extra attention. But other than that, if you give your nails a break every two manicures or so, you don’t have to feel over concerned about doing them any harm. More on how to look out for your cuticles later on when I talk about removing the polish!
Sidenote: I’m not about to tell you guys that this is some super easy DIY endeavor (if it even is considered a DIY – not quite sure) because there are some particularities and areas to pay close attention to. However, if you are someone who loves to do his/her own nails, and has a pretty steady hand, you will do just fine!
The brands I trust
I use OPI gel soak-off polishes. I also trust CND, though I’ve yet to purchase any myself. I really would not get adventurous with random brands for this. Since this type of polish is a particular formula that kind of bonds to the nail, you don’t want to buy something cheap that is made of cheap ingredients. It’s worth the investment to just pay a little more for a trustworthy product.
The first thing you want to do is make sure that your nails are clean. You can remove any residual polish there might be and just wash your hands to get anything else off the surface of your nails. Since even your base coat polish is gel, you want to make sure you don’t have anything on there like lint or dust that could make bumps and lumps.
First I apply a base coat of the OPI base coat polish and cure in my nail lamp for 60 seconds. I chose the SUNUV nail lamp and I love it. I think you only really need a lamp that does one hand at a time, and this one is extremely lightweight and easy to store and travel with. It was also only around $30.00 which is awesome.
You also want to prepare a cotton ball and alcohol. After each “curing” (under the lamp), you want to run a cotton ball dipped in alcohol over each nail. There is a kind of sticky film that the polish produces after curing in the lamp that needs to be brushed away.
Next I apply the first coat of my color. My all time favorite color for spring is Cajun Shrimp by OPI. The great thing about OPI is that if you have favorite colors like me, you can find all those same colors in gel. After the first coat, I cure in the lamp for 2 minutes. I pass the alcohol-dipped cotton ball over each nail and then apply a second coat and cure again for 2 minutes. Again pass over with the cotton ball.
Lastly, I apply the top coat and cure under the lamp for 2 minutes. The last step is to wipe each nail with your cotton ball and voila!
And that’s it! It’s pretty easy if you have a steady hand, and you just want to be sure to be painting smooth even layers and not clumping up anywhere. This is pretty easy to do, however, because the gel formula is kind of gloopier (the technical term) than regular polish so it goes on easier in my opinion. Then you’re good to go for at least two weeks, which is awesome!!
Removing the gel soak-off polish is the tricky part. This is also the part that many nail technicians are not trained properly in, and it can go horribly wrong quickly. You first need to buff the shiny top layer of the polish with a nail file.
Then, to look out for your poor cuticles, coat the cuticle and the skin around your nails in vaseline, aquaphor, or coconut oil even. This will protect the skin from soaking in harsh acetone remover.
Next you soak a cotton ball (one for each nail) in acetone nail polish remover.
I found these cute little clamps online for next to nothing. If you don’t want to get them, you can use aluminum foil to hold the cotton balls in place as well.
Leave on for about 10 minutes. (I check on them after like 7 minutes just to see!) Then they should rub off pretty easily with slight pressure and a tissue. If not, soak them for another couple minutes and try again.
I know this was a lengthy post, but I wanted to be thorough! Especially for my girls out there that are concerned with doing things in the healthiest way possible like me. 🙂 I hope this was helpful and feel free to ask me any other questions you guys have about doing gel nails at home!