DIY Gel Manicure at Home

Like everyone else, I am a stickler for having my nails well painted. The problem is, I don’t want to pay a lot of money to get them done over and over again at the nail salon. So I would do them at home using just regular nail polish. The problem with that is they don’t last very long at all. Maybe 3-4 days for me. And considering how long and tedious it is to do nails and then wait for it to completely dry (heck, a lot of times, I was too impatient, I would end up dinging them), I would only change them when they were getting abysmally bad.

It wasn’t until I tried gel nails at a salon that I actually enjoyed getting my nails done. They didn’t chip at all! Except, of course, after a while, my nails grew so long, it looked weird that the top part wouldn’t have polish while the bottom did. It was not at all like an ombre hairstyle.

But after once or twice of going to the manicurist for gel nails, I really couldn’t justify paying the cost so I recently thought I’d try it at home.

Guys, I’m seriously hooked.

My nails are always on point these days and I’m saving a boatload of time and money!


  1. UV+LED Nail Lamp
  2. Cotton balls
  3. Pure acetone
  4. Rubbing alcohol
  5. Cuticle softener
  6. Polish scraper and cuticle pusher tool
  7. Nail clips (instead of aluminum foils)
  8. Gel polish

I think total as my ‘initial investment’, I spent less than $50 which would have been one trip to the nail salon.


  1. Remove your cuticles by massaging some cuticle softener on. Then, using the cuticle pusher tool, gently push the cuticles against the skin and wipe off the excess. I am personally not a fan of removing cuticles so I do this very lightly, if at all. If you really want to do a more in-depth removal, you may need extra tools such as cuticle trimmers or the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover.
  2. Do what you regularly do with your nails, i.e. trip, file, buff, etc.
  3. Apply a thin layer of the base gel polish (okay, I actually skip this step because I was trying to save money initially but I plan on getting it soon!) and put your hand under the nail lamp for 60 seconds.
  4. Apply a thin layer of colored nail polish carefully on one hand and put your hand under the nail lamp for 60 seconds. Repeat this step 2-3 times.
  5. Apply a thin layer of top coat on top and put your hand under the lamp for, you guessed it, 60 seconds. Sometimes I do another 60 seconds. At this point, your nails are going to be sticky. That’s normal.
  6. Just dab some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and wipe your nails.

Et voila, you’re good! No more waiting hours upon hours waiting for your nails to dry to go about your day.

In two weeks, when your nails have grown out, it’s time to redo the whole process.


  1. Dab ten cotton balls with pure acetone and stick them in the nail clips.
  2. Then, with the cotton balls attached, clip those nail clips onto your nails.
  3. Wait 10-15 minutes and remove.
  4. Your nail polish should come right off. If they don’t, try again. It’s better to let the acetone do the work than to scrape the polish off your nails.
  5. Otherwise, use the scraper and scrape the remaining polish off.

Et voila! That’s how you remove gel nail polish at home.

From start to finish, it takes me about 30 minutes for my nails or a whole Lydia Elise Millen vlog.


  1. Let me reiterate once again to apply thin layers and build up. The first few times that I did this, I acted like I was regular nail polish and globbing it on, thinking they’d just wash off of the skin around my nails during a shower. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. It stayed like a blob of a mess.
  2. If you feel any of the nail polish on your skin, clean it up before you put your hands under the lamp. Otherwise, it’s kind of stuck like that.
  3. Top off your nails on the bottom part to lessen the risk of chipping.

That’s about it! At the moment, I only have two colors in my collection, which I think I’ll do a separate blog post on, but I love having the ability to do gel polish at home that I’m sure this collection will grow at a decent rate.

Have you done gel nails at home? Are there tips that I missed out on?


  1. Geniussr
    July 30, 2018 / 3:52 am

    What a lovely post honey…being a mom of young boys my major issue is taking time out for salon trips.. but I can easily manage to do this DIY gel manicure at night time when kids are asleep.. thanks for sharing…love..โค๏ธ

  2. Candice Petersen
    July 30, 2018 / 5:10 am

    Wow they actually came out looking gorgeous

    Candice |

  3. July 30, 2018 / 7:07 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I had to spend a lot of time going to the nail salon. But now I will not have to worry about this anymore. love

  4. Lisa Autumn
    July 30, 2018 / 12:23 pm

    OMG this looks amazing! I need to try this!

    x Lisa |

  5. July 30, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    These are really great tips! I stopped putting nail polish on my nails because it would only last for a few days and it took too much of my time. But I might have to give gels nails at home a try!

    x Kara |

  6. Amy Arnold
    July 30, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    Okay this is super helpful. I might need to get that light.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  7. July 31, 2018 / 4:47 pm

    these was so helpful–gel polishes in nyc are SO expensive so I end up doing my own nails and it just doesn’t last that long. Definitely going to try this asap!
    xx jen

    • admin
      August 1, 2018 / 1:18 pm

      Yes, hope it works out!

  8. July 31, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    This is such a great idea, nail trips can be so expensive ugh! I applied regular polish a few days ago and it’s already chipping like crazy, this sounds like the perfect solution!

    Lily loves |

    • admin
      August 1, 2018 / 1:18 pm

      Thanks Annie!

  9. August 1, 2018 / 2:08 am

    I never tried gel manicure cos’ I am always on move and barely get time for salon trips! This easy DIY kit seems to be a great solution!
    Hope you’re having an amazing week!
    Ankita | Real Girl Talks

  10. August 1, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    Wow, the result is fantastic! I wish I had the patience to do my own gel manicure!


  11. August 1, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    Such a great post – also – you’re so brave! I’m always afraid if I try and do something like this myself I’ll massacre my nails!! But you make it sounds so do-able, maybe I need to buy myself the start up kit!!

    Rebecca |

  12. August 2, 2018 / 6:32 am

    I’ve never done gel nails because I love to just paint my nails. So nice that you found an alternative, more cheap way to do your nails and at the comfort of your own home.

  13. August 2, 2018 / 12:53 pm

    I never tried it out but it looks absolutely fantastic!
    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. Do you want to follow each other?
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  14. August 2, 2018 / 5:00 pm

    I had gel nails once and I wasn’t happy with the results. Maybe I should try myself although I don’t have the patience to remove them! You make it look easy! Thanks for sharing!

    • admin
      August 6, 2018 / 2:14 am

      Thanks! It really was easy!

  15. August 2, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    I haven’t gotten my nails done in years because I hate paying so much to have them done! This is SUCH a great tip – thanks so much!

    -Emily |

  16. August 2, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    Great post and tips, I do my nails at home since two years now, it is definitely less expensive to do it home but for sure it takes more time.

    • admin
      August 6, 2018 / 2:13 am

      Interesting. I find it takes less time if you consider no commute and wait times.

  17. Filipa
    August 3, 2018 / 2:31 am

    Oh I really need to try do this

    Filipa xxx | Instagram

  18. August 5, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    Such a great post. I used to do my own gel nails but buying the polish was SO expensive. Especially O.P.I it’s also $20 a bottle for any gel polish. However those polishes really worked on me vs. other brands. Is Chinaglaze gel pricey? The process also just takes so long in my opinion and personally I don’t have the time or the materials. I prefer to use O.P.I Infinite Shine or regular nail polish after a gel manicure. The removal clips are so helpful!

    S | Je M’appelle Chanel

    • admin
      August 6, 2018 / 2:12 am

      China Glaze is about the same price as the other gel polishes, unfortunately. But they were about $15 for me, AND I got them during the Sally’s Beauty sale where you buy 2, get 1 free. That helped a lot!

  19. Gabrielle
    August 7, 2018 / 12:26 pm

    You’ve done such a fabulous job on your nails and how brilliant you’re able to do all of this from home – very impressive! I adore the nude shade you’ve opted for; very chic ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  20. August 9, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    Your nails look great! Such a great alternative rather than going to get your nails done ๐Ÿ™‚


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