I used to love getting my nails done at the salon, but switching to an at home gel manicure has been one of my favourite beauty DIYs.
Painting my nails at home saves so much time and money (after the initial cost of buying the gel manicure products, of course).
With so many products and kits on the market, it can be hard to know which are worth the investment.
After years of trial and error, I’ve figured it out for you: these are the best at home gel manicure products.
For a long lasting manicure with no lifting, ensuring you have no cuticle/dead skin on your nail plate is essential. For super quick and effective removal, this ^Blue Cross Cuticle Remover can’t be beaten. I also love all the Navy Professional nail tools (and the case) – there’s a reason they’re so raved about by top manicurists.
a beginner/basic/minimal prep routine:
– start by applying a drop of ^cuticle remover to each cuticle/nail
– gently push back cuticles using Doris cuticle pusher
– gently scrape/remove dead skin from nail using Martha paddle
– remove excess cuticle and remover by rubbing skin and nail using the damp Dolly cloth
(For an alternative to the Navy Pro tools, there’s this ^2in1 cuticle tool from Mylee.)
To file my nails into shape and very gently buff the surface to remove the shine from the nail plate, I use the Navy Pro nail files. This ^4-sided buffer is also a great option.
To clean the nail plate of residue that may stop the gel adhering to the nail plate, I use this ^Prep Solution with Lint Free Wipes. I then apply a very small amount of the ^IBD Bonder primer and allow to dry – this acts like an extra layer of adhesion between the nail and the gel.
You can stick with just a ^normal base coat, but I prefer to use this ^clear builder gel instead for added strength. The ^builder gel is thicker and can be layered up more than a ^normal base coat, but is applied and soaked off just the same.
I’ve used and loved this ^Mylee PRO Salon Series LED Lamp for years. The curing window is nice and wide, so I can easily fit my whole hand in at one time – no need to do my thumbs separately! The reflective bottom is even detachable so you can easily place it on top of your foot to do your own gel pedicure too.
This Mylee lamp is available in a range of ^gel manicure starter kits – but I think my recommendations are better, paha!
The fun bit, yay! A few of my favourite gel polish brands are Blazing Star, OPI and ^Bluesky and ^Mylee.
Some of my nude favourite shades:
– OPI ‘Put It In Neutral‘ (a sheer milky neutral beige-pink)
– Blazing Star ‘Magic Trick‘ (a sheer, shimmery peachy nude)
– Blazing ‘Star Dark Tan‘ (an opaque dark tan)
(view all Blazing Star shade swatches here)
To cut down on time and energy, I opt for a ^No Wipe Top Coat. I love taking the time to relax to do my manicure, but by the time I’ve got to the top coat stage, I just wanna be done!
To minimise the number of products you need to buy, you could choose a ^2in1 Top and Base Coat instead.
I use ^this rough grit nail file to break the seal/remove the top layer of polish before soaking off my gel manicure using ^acetone.
You can use pre-made tinfoil wraps, or make your own by cutting up some of your lint-free wipes and using your own tin foil. If you find the wraps fall off your fingers easily, try using ^these nail clips on top – they seem to speed up the removal time for me too.
(As I use builder gel, I don’t have to soak off my gels and can infill instead. I still use the same ^rough nail file to file down and remove as much of the coloured gel as needed.)
after care/manicure maintenance
Keeping your hands and cuticles moisturised will help prevent your manicure from chipping and lifting. Regularly applying hand cream throughout the day makes such a difference to the health and strength of your nails – These Non-Greasy Hand Creams Will Leave Your Hands Feeling Soft And Smelling Heavenly
For my cuticles, the Navy Pro Cuticle Balm and ^Bluesky Cuticle Oil live beside my bed and the ^Sally Hansen Cuticle Rehab Oil lives in my handbag.
Top Tip: don’t pull or cut dry skin/hang nails – use a nail buffer/ very fine grit nail file to gently exfoliate and smooth the skin instead, then apply your hand cream and cuticle oil after.