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!).
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!
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. Photos edited using Stella from the Signature Collection.