Beauty

How-To: At Home Gel Manicures

I am a devout gel mani enthusiast and regularly do them at home. People are always asking me where I get my nails done and are surprised to learn that I do them myself. It is SO much easier than you’d think. Those contemplating buying a kit for home, I would highly suggest it. I wanted to share just how easy it is with my step by step tutorial:

(Just a heads up- I use a combination of OPI Axxium and Gelish products. Gel manicures consist of a base coat, nail color, and top coat. Mixing products is not totally taboo)

(My friend Stephanie sent this to me! ^ I died when I saw it, I had to share :))

Okay, so here are my nails at the start. I had experimented with tips the week before so they were looking pretty rough to begin with…

1) Using a buffing cube and nail file- buff and shape your nails until they are smooth on top and have your desired shape/look.

2) There is a clear, liquid solution that is applied to your nails before you begin applying any polish- it helps dry out the nail so the gel will adhere (I apologize, I forgot to photograph it-nothing too exciting lol).

3) Base coat. This is a Gelish Mini Foundation base coat- apply a thin layer to all nails on your first hand without touching the surrounding skin or cuticles.

4) Cure nails in the UV light for about a minute.

*TIP* Don’t touch your nails with anything but the polish brushes throughout the manicure until they are completely done, beacuse they will be tacky each time they come out of the UV light.

5) Paint your first coat of color onto all five nails, again making sure to refrain from touching the edges of your nails or cuticles. I chose to use “Exhale” a Gelish Mini color.

6) Cure under UV lamp for another minute.

7) Apply second coat of color.

8) Cure under UV lamp for another minute.

9) Apply a thin layer of clear gel top coat. I use the OPI Axxium top coat.

10) Cure for 2 minutes.

11) Spray all 5 nails with the nail cleansing solution to help remove any tacky-sticky residue. I use the NAS-99 nail cleanser that comes with the OPI Axxium starter kit.

12) Rub each nail with a cotton ball to remove the solution and tackiness.

13) Repeat steps 1-12 on your second hand.

And there you have it! Your nails are 100% dry, super shiny, and should last for about 2 weeks!

If you have a steady hand and like to do your own manicures, I would highly suggest investing in your own gel manicure system, it is definitely affordable and worth every penny! 🙂

Does anyone else do their own nails at home?

**UPDATE**

I wrote this post last Friday and waited a week to share so I would have an updated picture. Here are my nails this morning… 8 days later 🙂

They are still flawless, but I’m so tempted to paint them a new color! Decisions, decisions 🙂

Do You Have a “Want List”?

So as you know, I’m making a huge effort to spend less money this year, I’m really proud of myself because so far I’ve broken a number of bad spending habits that I had developed. I’ll do a full post on ways to save money in the near future, but today I just wanted to share one of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself and my wallet in check.

Create your want list….

Every time I have the urge to buy something, I add it to my “want list” instead of impulsively purchasing it (which I would have normally done). The best thing about doing this is that it creates some structure for my purchases. While in reality, I could go ahead and buy most of the things on here right now-I don’t need to. I’d rather wait until I needed certain items or until I found a really good sale before buying them.

Some things currently on my want list: a cute new day planner, more gel nail polish colors, a new barrel hairbrush, blue suede pumps, a healthy cookbook, the new iphone, new vanilla candles, and some colorful tights.

It’s smart to wait to buy things that you want; it wont leave you as strapped for cash when unexpected, but important things come up (a spontaneous girls night out, a birthday gift for someone, an oil change, a new bronzer after yours falls and cracks all over the bathroom floor (ugh!)etc.) and it gives you something to look forward to!

You may be surprised to find that sometimes the things you thought you really wanted make their way off of your list…you may change your mind and set your heart on something completely different! It’s definitely helped me resist the urge to impulsively spend.

What’s on your want list?

I’m Going Nude!

Right now I am so obsessed, and inspired by all things nude and natural. Everything from neutral clothing and accessories, to natural hair and makeup! Sometimes less is more 🙂

(How freaking beautiful is Minka Kelly?!)

What are you currently loving?

Quick Eyebrow Trick!

Is there a quick beauty trick that you MUST do before you leave the house? An extra spritz of hairspray, some smoothing serum, a quick floss of your teeth? I have one that is a complete necessity …brushing and shaping my eyebrows!

It is so quick and easy, requires the purchase of nothing and will completely polish your look.

1) Grab a clean mascara brush- you can find these on display at nearly every beauty store. There are usually bunches of them available for customers to use for testing mascaras. Whenever I pop into Sephora I always grab a couple to bring home (I hope that doesn’t count as stealing..it’s like a sample!)

2) Place the tip of the brush close to the nozzle of your hairspray and spritz a small amount onto the tip.

3) Brush your eyebrows from the center of your face out. Be sure the path of the brush is drawn to enhance your natural arch.

Before
After (my apologies- my eyebrows were in a need a tweeze when this was taken)

(Be sure to run the brush under hot water when you’re done, otherwise the hairspray will build up and harden)

And voila! I am so nutty about doing my brows in the morning that I carry an extra brush and pocket sized hairspray in my purse just in case I forget!

Do you have a daily beauty-must?  Share it in the comments below 🙂

My take on gel manicures (Hint: I’m in favor!)

I have a legitimate obsession with fingernails, nail polish, nail products and creating the perfect manicure. It’s slightly sick. I never get my nails done at a salon because I know I can do them better.

When the Shellac craze hit, I didn’t think much of it. I was still a student, I had plenty of time to keep up with my regular manicures. Once I started working full time I found I was unable to paint my nails the usual 2-3X a week, so I booked a shellac appointment to see what the hype was about. Of course I researched the proper application technique before I went- no oil on your nails, the polish should never touch your cuticles, make sure they cap the edges, etc. So I went in all amped that I would be leaving with super shiny nails that would last for 2 weeks!

Fast forward through my appointment…it was horrible. The woman who did my nails didn’t follow any of the rules, and I honestly wanted to grab the polish out of her hand to do it myself. It was torture forking over $35 dollars for something I hated (including the color!) but I’m not one to complain. So I bit my tongue and vowed that’d be my LAST trip to the salon.

Fast forward to today- I purchased an entire gel system over the summer, UV light included…

…and now do my own gel manicures at home (my Mom, sister and roommate benefit as well ;)).  I don’t know how else to explain it, but gels are so amazing! I will never go back to regular polish. If you learn nothing else from me…remember this GEL MANICURES WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! (That’s kind of dramatic, but I promise it’s true!)

I will do a post on “How-To Do Your Own At Home Gel Mani ” in the near future, but today I just wanted to convince you with pictures. I basically photograph my nails daily, just to document the longevity of each manicure. Below are a few gel manicures I’ve done- see for yourself 🙂

Gelish Mini "Stand Out"
Gelish Mini "Bella's Vampire"
Gelish Mini "Sweet Chocolate"

I use a combination of OPI Axxium and Gelish products. You can see each manicure generally lasts two weeks- once in a while there is minor peeling in the second week, but the polish never chips, it withstands long showers, dish washing, and normal activity that a regular manicure would never sustain. The polish always remains shiny, and it makes my nails super strong- allowing them to continue growing (normally my nails are really weak). As you can see my cuticles grow out, and that’s when I’m usually ready to remove the polish and pick a new color.

I would highly suggest that if you haven’t tried a gel manicure yet, that you do so. Be sure to find a good salon and book an appointment- you will not be disappointed.

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