Manicure

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 🙂

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?

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.

Cuticle Oil Products: 101

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a fanatic about my fingernails! I could honestly dedicate an entire blog site to manicures, products and tips, but that’d be unhealthy and I do enjoy other things in life as well. 😉

This morning on Twitter I got into a discussion about cuticle oil with a couple of my followers who had never used it before! I think that is such a crime; all women should know the many benefits they’d get from carrying this product and using it regularly.

If you don’t currently use cuticle oil read on…

1) Cuticle oil helps keep fingernails healthy and strong. 

2) Oil will restore and prevent dry, peeling or cracked cuticles. 

3) When cuticles are not nourished, it is difficult to push them back and many salons will clip them. When they’re clipped you are providing an entry point for bacteria and fungi (ew!)

4) Improves nail strength, appearance, flexibility and growth. In a brief amount of time, you’ll notice your nails will be growing quicker, and much stronger.

I am a devout cuticle oiler! I apply dozens of times per day (which is excessive- it is suggested 3x/day is more than enough). I carry three different brands in my purse, check them out below:

1)    Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème:

Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Creme
Opened

This product reminds me of a lip balm. (Warning- it does not substitute as one! I tried once in desperate measure-ick!)

The Lemon Butter smells amazing, and overall it works well, I just don’t like having to get my fingers all sticky to apply it to my nails.

2) Sally Hanesn Vitamin E & Cuticle Oil

Sally Hansen Vitamin E & Cuticle Oil
A regular polish brush is used for application

I really love this product! It works amazing and keeps your nails and cuticles nourished for quite a while. The only downside is that it is difficult to use when walking, in a car, or any place that you cannot set the bottle down. It’s also slightly embarrassing to use in public because it looks like you are painting your nails, but Lord knows I don’t care ;)…

My (embarrassed) friend snapped a shot of me while we were pre-gaming before going out in Boston. This is my kind of pre-game! 😉

3) Sephora Stimulating Lavender Cuticle Oil

This cuticle pen has a twist on the bottom which pumps out the oil.
The bush makes application SO easy- anytime, anyplace.

This product is my absolute favorite! It is a little pricey, but if you are trying to transform your nails, I would highly recommend picking one up! It is so convenient; it is discrete and it works phenomenally. I leave one on my desk at work (in my pen jar) and I swear I use it all day long.

Can you spot the cuticle pen?

In all honesty, any of these products will get the job done-I just have my favorites.

After I oil my cuticles I apply the Vaseline Healthy Hand & Nail Lotion which can be found at any drugstore, Walmart, CVS, etc.

I love that the bottle is pink 🙂

No matter what product you choose to use, use something. Especially during these winter months. I promise you, you will notice a difference in your nails. 🙂

If you know of a must-have cuticle product tell me about it in the comments below!

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