DIY: Gel Nails at Home

DIY: Gel Nails at Home


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.


Step 1

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.


Step 2

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.


Step 3


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.


Step 4

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!

A presto,

Amanda <3


  1. April 2, 2017 / 11:07 am

    LOVING your design girly!! Also, really want to try this out as I’ve tried the Essie gel polish and it didn’t quite live up to my expectations! Thanks for sharing!x

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 2, 2017 / 11:20 am

      Aww thank you so much! 😊 yeah I don’t think those lines of gel polish that aren’t soak off but promise 2 weeks (Essie and there’s an opi line too) work so well. But this one is the real deal haha!

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 2, 2017 / 11:41 am

      Thank you so much!! ❤😊

  2. April 2, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    Love this post and your site looks amazing! Thanks for sharing this information – your nails look great! Cajun Shrimp is one of my faves, too!

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 2, 2017 / 12:40 pm

      Thank you so much ❤ yes LOVE Cajun Shrimp haha

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 2, 2017 / 2:06 pm

      Aw thank you so much!! 😊❤

  3. April 2, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Awesome post! I’ve never seen those clamps before! What a great idea! Love the new look-very sophisticated.

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 2, 2017 / 8:00 pm

      Thank you so much Melissa! 🙂 <3

  4. April 3, 2017 / 10:36 am

    your nails are looking amazing…like your post so much..Thanks for sharing.

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 3, 2017 / 8:13 pm

      Thank you!! 🙂

  5. April 5, 2017 / 8:15 am

    I’ve been doing my nails in the salon, most of the time. But than I decided not to anymore, since it really is very expensive… So, I’ve been wanting to try gel nails at home, by myself for a long time now. And my only and biggest concern is the LED/UV lights… I’m afraid to get a “bad” one who wouldn’t “bake” good, but at the same time I don’t want to spend 200€ or even more on a good one… Ahh 😁 you did a really good job, though 👌

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 6, 2017 / 12:18 pm

      You know, I have never heard of any issues of this kind with a bad lamp. But I can assure you that mine works great and was very inexpensive at about $25.00. 🙂

  6. April 5, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    So cute! Have you tried Essie “Gel” Top Coat? You don’t have to use an LED light and I’ve been told that it lasts longer than a normal top coat 🙂

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 6, 2017 / 12:20 pm

      I haven’t tried that one exactly, but I’ve used others like it and they work pretty well for a “normal” manicure. But I do think that there is no comparing (as far as long lasting results) with the soak off gel formula polishes. 🙂

  7. April 7, 2017 / 8:35 am

    Love your nails and good for you for doing your gel nails at home! I’ve have yet to have a good experience with gel nails unfortunately but maybe it was because of the nail salon I went to? But I do love how gel nails look though!

    Anwyays, Just wanted to let you know that I just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award!

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 9, 2017 / 11:36 am

      I think many nail technicians are not trained well in applying and removing gel polish. That’s why I didn’t want to keep taking the risk! Aw thank you so much!! <3

  8. April 8, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Such a gorgeous shade! And the new site looks so chic and pretty!

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 9, 2017 / 11:38 am

      Oh thank you!! 🙂

  9. April 8, 2017 / 7:37 pm

    What a great post! I’ve been too nervous to try this at home, but now I want to give it a try! Do you recommend putting sunblock on the tops of your hands to prevent UV damage? Thanks!

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 9, 2017 / 11:39 am

      You know, I’ve read a lot about the UV damage of nail lamps (and I am a wellness freak) and honestly everything says that it’s so so minimal that I am not bothering to protect my hands. I’ve read that it’s really not like a tanning booth or anything but if you are concerned you could put a little sun block or there are these little gloves on amazon that cover everything exxcept your nails just for this purpose.

  10. April 11, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    I love gel nails and those little clips will be a life saver!!! Definitely a must have

    • The Bellezza Corner
      April 11, 2017 / 9:56 pm

      They are awesome! And only like $2 haha

  11. May 28, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    I agree about those gel polished. OPI and CND are good choice and they last long. May I just make a little suggestion? Gel nails and gel polishes are not the same thing. Gel nails are nail extensions but gel polishes (like CND and OPI) are nail polishes which contain gels (need UV lamp).

    • The Bellezza Corner
      May 28, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Oh yes I know that, I’ve done gel nails before. I just shortened it for the title of the blog post since gel polish is on trend right now, I thought people would know the difference 🙂

  12. Gabriela
    March 15, 2018 / 10:52 am

    I would like to save some money, so I am considering having a manicure done by myself. In that case, your post is really handy – thanks. I am about to purchase some of Gelish gels here: Please, give me some peace of advice. I’d like to purchase all the materials needed, but have some doubts about my abilities to work with all that after. What should be in the minimal must-have cart? Thanks!

    • The Bellezza Corner
      March 15, 2018 / 11:29 am

      Hey! Just make sure the polishes you’re buying are soak off gel polishes (there are a few products out there that say “gel” but aren’t soak off). For starting out you definitely need a lamp (I linked the awesome
      one I use in my post), a base coat and top coat (gel soak off again) and whatever colors you’d like to start with. You’ll also need a nail polish remover (any kind) or an alcohol to just run over the polish at the very end. 😊

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