Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home!

Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home! Listen—as much as I love working for a blog where I get to do DIYs and make yummy recipes every day, I have to say that this is a tough line of work to be in if you have a freshly dried manicure. When your day involves spray paint, X-Acto knives, sanding, mineral spirits, and various power tools, it’s no wonder that I can’t keep a manicure longer than a full work day. It’s also one of the reasons that I only buy quick-dry nail polish to do my nails at home. I mean, when you have to constantly re-do your nails (because they end up in photos a lot during the week), you want it to take as little time as possible.

Getting gel manicures is one of my guilty pleasures every so often, and I love how it keeps my manicure intact for so much longer. When I started to see pins on Pinterest about different ways to do your own version of a gel manicure at home, I just had to know if it actually worked or if it was all a cruel trick. I’m thrilled to report that I’m typing this on day five of my current at-home gel manicure, and my nails are still in near-perfect shape—it’s amazing! I can definitely get at least a week out of this manicure, and that’s a pretty big difference from just my normal polish. Now I know doing a gel nail hack is not the same exact thing as going to a salon (and sometimes you just want to be pampered even if you can do it yourself), but it’s totally the second best thing to it (and it only takes 15-20 minutes!).  

Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home! abeautifulmess.comSupplies:
Gelous Nail Gel
-Regular nail polish (China Glaze and OPI polish seems to work the best for us)
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat 

Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home! Step One: Buff and smooth out your clean nails with a buffing block and remove nail dust with polish remover.

Step Two: Apply a thin coat of Gelous Nail Gel and let dry for one minute.

Step Three: Apply a thin coat of nail polish and let dry for three minutes.

Step Four: Apply another thin coat of the Gelous gel and let dry for one minute.

Step Five: Apply a second thin coat of nail polish and let dry for three minutes.

Step Six: Apply your top coat and let dry for one minute.

Step Seven: Apply your last coat of Gelous and let dry for 5-10 minutes.

Make sure to seal the ends of your nails as well, as you apply each coat (just drag the tip of the nail polish brush across the tips of your nails). It’s a little harder to do this with short nails, but it will help keep the ends from chipping. When you’re done with your gel mani, just use regular nail polish remover to remove the polish (or 100% acetone for faster removal).

Tips: There’s definitely some debate as to what polish colors/brands and top coats are the best for this project. It seems like the Seche Vite top coat does tend to shrink some polish colors (although we didn’t have that result), so if you find that’s the case, it looks like Out the Door Top Coat is another good option. We had great results with China Glaze and OPI nail polish, but it seems that there are a wide variety of other brands and colors that will work just as well, so you may have to do a bit of trial and error with your favorite colors to figure out the best one.

Also, some people don’t end up needing the last coat of Gelous on top of their top coat, so try it once both ways to see if your top coat is enough to do the trick. Don’t be discouraged if your combination doesn’t work perfectly the first time; keep trying, because once you get it right you’ll love it!

Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home! If you like the idea of a longer lasting gel manicure DIY but don’t have the patience for all the steps listed above, a great option for you is the Dior Gel Top Coat. You can put this top coat over any nail polish to extend the life of your manicure for days longer than usual (and we love the high gloss gel shine it gives our nails as well). Just use regular polish remover or 100% acetone when removing. 

I am seriously in love with the results of this experiment! It’s definitely changed my whole routine of how I’ll do my nails from now on. And think of all the free time I have now at night for snack eating, kitty petting, and online shopping. I mean, my calendar just opened wide for all the super important things in life. So, what do you think? Will you give this at-home gel mani a try? xo. Laura


Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Laura Gummerman & Elsie Larson. 

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  • I tried this with Butter polish and an OPI top coat. Other than some bubbling on one nail it seems to have worked great! I got no shrinkage.

  • They both work great! The Gelous nail gel requires a several initial applications where the Dior gel coat is a faster way to achieve chip free nails.

  • Which results in a longer chip free nail – gelous nail or Dior gel coat?
    Thank you

  • After reading this I picked up the Gelous Nail Gel at Sally’s and tried it for the first time this week. It’s four days after painting my nails and I only have a couple tiny chips. Normally by now, half of my nails wouldn’t have any polish left. Thank you so much for this post! I’m so happy that my polish lasted all weekend and still looks great!

  • Thank you SO much for sharing this! I tried it this weekend and it worked wonderfully! Thank you for saving me many trips to the salon 🙂

  • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this post! I tried it out this weekend and now I’m completely hooked! You’ve just made my life a whole lot easier 🙂


  • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this post! I tried it out this weekend and now I’m completely hooked! You’ve just made my life a whole lot easier 🙂


  • I wanted to come back and comment – I LOVED this post! I didn’t have the gel topcoat so I used what I had – an OPI Base Coat. I did the same technique with base coat and OPI polish (the best in my opinion 🙂 and it worked great!! My polish has stayed SO much longer.. Even after a day of gardening 😉 Thanks Laura!

  • This is a perfect post for me as I have been hemming and hawing about trying gel based polishes. I can get 4-5 days from my usual DIY mani, but longer can be better. I notice that you did require a lamp for suring and that made me happy. I will definitely give this consideration!

  • I swear by Seche Vite’s dry fast polish and have never had any problems with it!

  • I got a gel manicure for my the first time for my wedding 2 weeks ago and loved the look of my nails. I was debating getting it touched up/done again and then your post happened just in time. I went to Sally’s and got the stuff and it worked great! With the exception of one stubborn nail that keeps chipping, the rest still look perfect on day 3 which is incredible. Thanks for the tips ladies!! 🙂

  • Thanks for the fab tips, Laura!! I LOVE doing my own nails…and SWEAR by Seche Vite. That stuff is amazing. Haven’t tried the gelous…I’ve been using a method called the “sticky sandwich”, using Orly Rubberized Bonder – Seems to be a somewhat similar idea as your method. My mani now lasts for a good 5-7 days…which is fabulous! Thanks for all of the inspiring things you gals share here! 🙂


    check out my youtube channel, I do vlogs of my life, diy videos. Would really appreciate it 🙂

  • Does anyone know where you can buy the Gelous product in the UK? Or is there an alternative that’s just as good and widely available?

  • I’m so glad to know I can do this at home. I will be looking for that product.

  • I was disappointed with this tutorial to be honest. I followed it step by step and my nails were still tacky five to six hours later. I finally just removed all of it because they just wouldn’t dry.

    • I don’t use nail polish because it starts chipping almost immediately (even w/ base & top coats) but this post gave me the confidence to try it for my son’s wedding. I did buy an inexpensive light but discovered in another tutorial somewhere that if you do a quick swipe of acetone after everything it gets rid of the *stickiness* after you get done & it works! I know you wrote your post a long time ago, & you might have discovered this already, but thot I’d leave a suggestion.

      Thanks for the tutorial! It gave me courage to polish my nails in a beautiful silver, since that was one of the colors of the wedding. I even got compliments on them-amazing for me.

  • Will have to try this! I love the gel polish but dislike heading to the salon for removal…great color choice too! TGIF!


  • The products are all linked in the post so you can buy them 🙂


  • Hi Robin!
    With the Gelous I can usually get a week in before it starts to chip 🙂


  • Are you all aware that seche vite has a chemical in it known to cause birth defects and reproductive issues? The disclaimer is right on the bottle…

  • Are you nail biting? Could you maybe turn that into a let’s-stop-nail-biting-together-challenge with all readers here? I would love that!!

  • The Seche Vite top coat changed my mani life! I highly recommend it even to extend regular ol’ manicures.

  • Omg, please do a give away with these polishes! I also love the effects of a gel mani, but don’t quite like how the polish is basically burned onto your nails. This seems so much better! Can’t wait to try it. 🙂

  • I am totally going to have to try this myself!


  • This is a great DIY! And quite cheap for a gel manicure compared to the one you get at a salon 🙂
    May need to stock up on some supplies now!

  • My home polish mani regimen will last me 7-10 days consistently…..and I am hard on my hands.

    I start with clean manicured nails, prepped for the polish….

    I use 1 coat of Bondex, 2 thin coats of color ( I mostly use Essie) 1 coat of Nailtiques #2 and 1 coat Seche Vite. This works the best by far…

    Essie Polish is my go to, but Opi makes the routine once in a while. Seche Vite is the Best Top Coat. I also was an Out The Door fan until I discovered Seche Vite 12 yrs ago or so?…. If your color Polish is too wet, the Seche Vite can drag the color away, so do let it dry for minute or so… Out The Door is great too though….both do what they claim to do…

  • Great post – I am on money saving mode so getting my nails done isn’t a priority but I like to try at least to do them well at home. Thanks guys! Always love reading ABM

  • Sweet almond oil! Massage it in every morning and night to keep your cuticles lovely and your nails strong 🙂

  • This brings me back to my roommate and I doing each other’s gel nails in college!

  • I’m totally trying this as soon as I can get my hands on a bottle

  • Just use regular polish or acetone on cotton pads and it will come off like regular nail polish-it’s easy!

    Laura 🙂

  • Hi Laura – I really like these sort of beauty reviews/posts you’ve been starting to do! I missed that aspect of the blog for a while, and it’s nice that you’re bringing your voice to it. Today I bought the Nivea self-tanning lotion you recommended – I’m excited to try it!

    – Caroline

  • Great guide!

  • Seche Vite’s top coat is one of my go-to beauty items. I can’t do my nails without it!

  • I use Vinylux gel polish and top coat, which I read about in Oprah magazine and ordered off Amazon. I haven’t tried using regular polish along with Vinylux top or base coat yet, but so far the gel polish has worked beautifully.

  • I love and use Seche Vite all the time, I’ve never tried it with another top coat over it but it will pull back a little as it cures. I don’t really mind as I usually wear light colored nail polish and I don’t have a big issue with chipping nails!!

  • I love gelous! I use it every time I do my nails!!


  • This is a seriously amazing tutorial! I never would have thought I could do gel nails with my normal nail polish!

  • How do you remove this? Do you have to soak your nails in acetone still?

  • Great DIY! I’m excited to try this especially the Dior top coat! I use the out the door top coat now and it works great. For me it is just as good as the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. I stopped using the Seche Vite top coat after I read the warning label on it which states : “WARNING! This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” That’s when I switched and started using out the door as my top coat. The following link is to a blog post I found online about toluene the chemical in Seche Vite it is very informative.

  • Great tips! I love the look of gel manicures but I never want to go to the salon and get it done because they can be quite expensive. This is a great solution.
    xox Logan

  • Thanks for the wonderful post. I can’t wait to try the Dior top coat, just what I needed!

  • I have always been scared to purhase the Seche Vite because I have read that it says on the side: “WARNING! This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm,” which kind of creeps me out. It does have amazing reviews though.

  • That seche vite top coat is theeee best! My home manicures last so much longer with their base + top coats.

  • I can’t wait to try these products. Thanks for the info!

    One thing, I have used Out the Door topcoat for years, but have also discovered Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat. I love, love, love it and can easily pick it up at Walmart or Walgreens if I am not planning a trip to the beauty supply.

  • I went so far as to buy my own uv lamp online and did this process (normal nail color with gel topcoat) and my manicures last at least 1.5 weeks! If you want to spend a bit more on the lamp (around $20) it’s a great tool to have, especially if you love having nice nails 24/7!

  • I love me a good gel manicure (it’s the only thing that lasts for me too!) but MAN does it get expensive! I’m thrilled that there is another option out there that will let me do it on my own! Just in time for vacation too!


  • This is awesome and I love that the products are all on the reasonable priced side of things. If people are looking for a top coat, I was in Ulta the other day and they have all their ULTA professional nail polish on sale. Instead of $8 a bottle, it’s 2 bottles for $4. They have a quick dry top coat that works wonders and definitely rivals my more expensive brands that cost upwards of $10.

    Thanks for sharing this! Can’t wait to try it out.

  • I love this! I use Shellac with an at home UV light. Beats paying 40 bucks every 2 weeks!
    Thanks for the tips 🙂 I might give these products a whirl!
    The Macadame. xx

  • I work in television and gel manicures are the only way for me to maintain decent nails for more than an hour without chipping. But if you want the full wear, I think you have to go for full strength– meaning setting with UV light.

    Here’s my tip to extend the life of a gel manicure: don’t paint on a solid color. Instead do a fade/ombre from clear at the cuticle to full color at the tip. That way nail growth is less noticeable– and you can extend the length of time you wait before getting a new manicure. I can typically go a month before things start looking dicey.

  • My sister does her nails exactly like this and it always stays on for a good 5-6 days for her!

  • Another option that’s much easier is cnd Vinylux!! I highly recommend it! It’s not gel, it’s just a new polish created by cnd to adhere better to the nails. No lights needed for it either. With vinylux, you apply the color directly to the nail (2 coats), no base coat, then their special top coat. They actually say a base coat will negate the purpose of the system. I’m on day 6 of mine right now and no signs of chips! It can be hard to find a salon that carries it since it’s new, but Amazon definitely sells it.

  • Whoohoo! As a nail blogger, I’m stoked to see my staples, Seche and Gelous, here on ABM! And this is just from personal experience, but I’ve gotten even BETTER wear with manicures if I layer Gelous on top of the polish, and then a coat of Seche Vite. 🙂

  • Yes, I am sooo excited about this! I’m really into nail art and I’m going to experiment with doing designs on the last polish coat. It’s funny you say that about your nails because I am always envious of how nice you girls’ nails look on here. I’m a diy’er and gardener and my nails are always a wreck. I paint them constantly but have no idea why, it doesn’t even last a day. I also do a lot of kids nails designs, and kids can’t keep their polish on for a few hours hardly, so I’m going to try this. I’m so excited because I was sure this post was going to be all expensive equipment and lights and stuff. Easy peasy!

  • whoa what a fantastic way to make a manicure last. thanks, laura!

  • I am super hard on my nails and have a tendency to peel the polish at the first sign of a chip. Just recently I stumbled across Julep’s Freedom Polymer Top Coat and I am 100% sold on it. I assume it has a similar effect to the gel coats, in that it seems thicker(?) with a super hard finish that is also quick drying. It keeps black nails chip free and shiny for a week as opposed to the typical 48 hours of anything else I have tried.

  • i love this! i was recently give a home gel nail kit, with the light and everything. i tried it once, and hated the long process, so it’s been sitting in a drawer. i love the idea of the dior top coat. can’t wait to try it!!!
    xo jac

  • as i am typing my nails looks like a hot mess!

    cannot wait to try this!


  • I will try it. I can’t keep my DIY nail last for an hour. I usually get salon gel nail and shellac color. It costs too much. I have been looking for a DIY way for my nail. Thanks for the post.

  • I didn’t even know this is something you could do from home! Thank you for sharing this. I too have trouble keeping nice nails because I’m a homemaker. Cleaning all the time definitely interferes with my nail care.

    Love and Luck,

    Laurali Star

  • This is a great idea! I’d never think to do a gel manicure at home without the fancy light thing. Thanks!! 🙂

  • Whoops, you’re right Kate! Thanks for catching that 🙂


  • So I definitely will be buying that Dior top coat!

    Thanks for the ideas xx

  • I used to go to the beauty salon for my gel manicure… I lasted for six weeks!! But I can’t afford it anymore now that I have more responsibilities. I don’t even paint my nails any more.. Just on special occasions. I wish I had a good tutorial for perfect DIY french manicure!!

  • It is hard for me to polish my own nails but I would be happy with just the clear coats and no color polish at all. I have very rough looking fingers from years of neglect and working on cars. My main problem is softening the cuticles around my nails and making the overall look of my fingers look nourished and pretty. Do you have any tips on how to give yourself a manicure at home to make your nails and fingertips look soft and clean. Would be interested in seeing what you have. I have tried to find a DIY hand soak/manicure but have had no luck.

  • Just being practical here, but did it not occur to anyone to wear gloves when sanding and spray painting, and using mineral spirits and various power tools.

  • I have this Gel “base coat” but never had much luck, I didn’t try to layer it this way. I will try it!

    I’ve had amazing luck with Debra Lippman’s Gel Lab. What was a 15 hour mani now lasts 5 days. And it’s an acetone removal,no light needed. Awesome! I am going to try the gelous again, thanks for the steps!

  • Absolutely, I hate going around with unpainted nails or even worse chipped up nails. I don’t mind putting in a little extra time for it to last longer. I’m running to sally’s to get my supplies.

  • I love that China Glaze color – can you tell us what it’s called?

  • This is a great post, Laura! I use these exact polishes all the time and have great results. 🙂
    I also found that Cover Girl’s polish works pretty well too – you only need one coat of polish because it’s a bit thicker, yet dries pretty fast too! I was actually surprised at how long the Cover Girls lasted for me.


  • I’ve been dying to try a DIY gel mani – I will have to give this one a shot. I love that it doesn’t use a UV light!

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