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How'd you get your nails like that?

I like doing my nails. I’ve developed my own little gel nail kit, giving me full flexibility with what I can do, limited much less by my finances. It costs about $30 for a gel manicure where I live, and then add a tip on top of that… It’s expensive. I’ve found that it pays off to have your own stuff, especially if you buy second-hand. I like gel nails because they toughen my nails much more than acrylic, doesn’t have as long of a dry time, and lasts much longer than a typical acrylic manicure. Here’s a list of what I use.

Nail Care

  1. Cuticle oil Apply this all over your cuticles if you need to clear them up and pick off all the dead skin. Not necessary, but helpful.
  2. Cuticle pusher and cutter This should give you all you need when it comes to the tools you need to take care of your nails. First, I use a cuticle pusher after the cuticle oil to bunch up the cuticles. Then use a cuticle cutter to trim away the excess skin at the corners of your nail. Wash your hands afterwards with soap to cleanse your skin of oil and to prevent infection.
  3. Manual nail file File your nails to the desired shape. I like an almond nail because they’re sharp but don’t snag too easily like a stiletto shape. Same goes for oval over square nails: if anything, compromise for squoval.

Gel Manicure/Pedicure

  1. LED Curing Light Used between coats of polish, and typically takes between 30-60 seconds to cure a single layer. A UV light also works but also takes about eight minutes, and that's too long for my taste, but it's up to you.
  2. Gel Base Coat In order for the polish to properly stick to your nails, you should use a base coat. If the gel polish doesn’t stick well to your nails regardless, consider using a nail file to lightly file to the surface of your nail, creating grit for the polish to hold on before applying the gel polish. Consider also lightly filing the layer of base coat as well, if necessary.
  3. Gel Color Coat Look online for more variety! CND is a professional brand that I’ve had good experiences with: I managed to find a couple at my local closeout retail chain for under five bucks each! It was such a score. Be sure to apply this in thin layers, curing between each coat, because otherwise it’ll puddle up in your cuticles, and that’s always really annoying. It’ll harden and immediately start peeling, ruining your manicure/pedicure! It’s happened to me more than once.
  4. Nail Art Foil Glue Gel To be applied on top of 1-2 layers of color coat (even though I’ve even done 3 layers for an an especially bright color), it makes your nails sticky after you cure them, so that you could apply nail foils, which are essentially entire patterns you can apply onto your nails! It’s super cool. Apply one thick, even layer, and do not let it pool in your cuticles.
  5. Gel Nail Foil Transfer Stickers These come in long rolls of patterns, which you can cut into smaller pieces and then apply to your nails after using the aforementioned art foil glue gel. You could get lots of different designs, from flowers to lace. Don’t be afraid to experiment with patterns and sizes! You could apply it to all of your nails or to just some. I’ve tried to apply them directly on top of color gel, and it just doesn’t work the same. You could even use the same piece of the foil on a different nail if not all of the pattern transferred onto your nails!
  6. Water Transfer Decal Stickers These are cool, tiny little drawings that you can transfer onto your nails. You cut out the little drawings, drop a little water on the one you want to use, enough to soak the paper, and then use a pair of tweezers to transfer the drawing onto your nails! You could also apply them with your fingertips, but my hands aren’t steady enough for that. If you think the colors are too contrasting with the color, you can apply another layer of color coat to unify the colors on the nail a bit. Note, you could also use these on acrylic nails, too!
  7. Gel Top Coat Now, this part’s important. You have to seal in the color polish, nail foil, and/or water transfer sticker using a top coat. This layer, like the base coat, you can apply more thickly for a single, even coat, but be sure to avoid letting it puddle in the corners, like the color coat. I usually use a nail on my other hand to scoop out the polish that does fall into the crevices. Hey, it works, even for color coats. And that’s it! Your manicure/pedicure is done!