*The author generated this text in part with ChatGPT, OpenAI’s GPT-3 large language model. The content was reviewed, edited, fact-checked, and revised by our editorial team.

Gel manicures, whether done at home or in the salon, are a popular choice because they last longer than traditional mani-pedis and don’t chip as easily. However, when it comes time to remove them, it can be tough to do so without damaging your nails. But don’t worry — with a few simple steps and the right tools, you can safely remove your gel manicure at home and keep your nails looking healthy and in tip-top shape. 

Why is gel more damaging to your nails?

Gel manicures can be more damaging to your nails than traditional polish because they require filing and buffering before application. This can make the nails thinner and weaker. In addition, gel manicures are cured under UV light, which can cause the nails to dry out and become brittle over time.

The gel removal process can also be harsh on the nails because acetone is often used to remove the polish, drying out and weakening the nails. If you don’t remove the polish properly, the nails can rip off or become damaged. Excessive filing and buffing during removal can also further weaken the nails.

Another factor that can be harmful is leaving gel polish on for too long. Even though it’s more durable than traditional polish, it still needs to be removed and replaced every two to three weeks. 

Step-by-step guide for at-home gel removal

Removing gel polish, especially at home, isn’t easy. But following the steps below should help you get rid of your gel manicure as seamlessly as possible. 

Step 1: Gather your tools  

Grab a nail clipper, nail file, cotton balls, a plastic manicure stick, an acetone-based nail polish remover, and moisturizing hand cream. Why acetone, you may ask? It can dissolve the materials used to make the gel, such as the polymer in the polish, and breaks down the molecules for more effortless removal.

Acetone is also a strong degreaser and helps to remove any oil or dirt on your nails. This allows for a smoother surface for the next application. Pure acetone, however, can be extremely drying, so balancing it out with moisturizing ingredients is necessary.

Step 2: Clip, clip, clip

Once you have your tools, begin clipping your nails as short as possible. This will make removing the gel polish easier and prevent your nails from snagging on anything.

Step 3: File away

Next, use the nail file to file away the top layer of the gel polish gently, which will break up the surface, making it easier to remove the polish.

Step 4: Soak your nails in acetone

Saturate a cotton ball with the acetone-based nail polish remover and place one on top of each nail. Then, wrap your nails in aluminum foil to make sure the cotton ball stays in place. The foil will help trap the heat and create a warm environment to speed up the removal process.

Let your nails soak in the acetone for about 15-20 minutes, then slowly remove the foil and cotton balls. The plastic manicure stick can help push off the remaining polish. If the gel isn’t coming off easily at this point, you can leave your nails wrapped in the foil for a few more minutes.

Step 5: Smooth it out

Once you’ve managed to take off the polish, use a nail file to smooth out any rough edges and shape your nails how you like. You’ll then want to moisturize your nails with a hand cream or cuticle oil to hydrate them and prevent them from becoming dry and brittle.

Proceed with patience 

TL;DR? Removing gel manicures with as little damage as possible requires handling the process gently and with care. You don’t want to spend too much time buffing your nails in step 3, as it can be too aggressive and harsh. It’s also important that you avoid skipping the moisturizing tip, as this can help keep your nails strong, healthy, and hydrated. We also recommend taking breaks between gel manicures to give your nails some time to strengthen and recover.

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Caring for your health is something that you do every time you shower, wash your hands, or style your hair. So why are all of us taking care of these needs with products that contain harsh chemical additives? Making the switch to organic or natural products can remove so many chemicals from your daily exposures and make you healthier overall.

If you have been on the lookout for a shower gel that doesn’t contain chemicals, you need to be sure that you know what you should keep in mind. There are various ingredients that you need to look for when you are shopping for the right shower gel that is organic. Being educated about the ingredients that work best for this product can make a big difference in your shopping experience.

In our opinion, the best shower gel, without chemicals, is the Herbal Body Wash by Hempz.

Ingredients To Look For in Shower Gels That Are Organic

Most natural skin care products will contain these kinds of ingredients:

  • Honey
  • Aloe vera
  • Red algae
  • Green tea
  • Rose hydrosol
  • Lavender or other essential oils for scent
  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Neem extract
  • Hemp oil

All of these different ingredients can be present in the organic product that you are buying to use as a shower gel. Make sure that there are no hidden chemicals in the products that you are considering buying. Some brands can be sneaky about making their products sound chemical-free when they are not.

The Best Brands to Shop With for Organic Shower Gel

There are a few companies that make the best shower gels that are not going to include chemicals that are harsh to your skin and bad for your health. Companies like 100% Pure and Alaffia are well-known for their excellent skincare products that are fully natural and organic as well as responsibly sourced. You will also have good luck with Dr. Bronner’s and Puracy brand products.

No matter which companies you are looking into buying from, checking the ingredients list is a must. You will be able to check that the product is safe to use if you just look at what is included in the bottle. Any words that you do not recognize or chemical inclusions should rule out that product as being non-organic.

Buying Organic Body Wash Can be Easy

If you have decided to make the change to organic products for your skin, a body wash might be at the top of your list. There are many companies that make products in this category that are natural and completely organic. Always check the ingredients list to be sure that you are aware of what ingredients are inside the bottle, and you should have no trouble getting your hands on organic skincare products.

Make sure that you remember that the shelf-life of these products is often short, so do not buy in bulk to prevent having to throw out shower gel that has gone bad. Organic body wash can make your daily shower experience healthier and more enjoyable with ease.

This article was last updated on December 6, 2022 .

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Aloe vera gel is likely not the first product that comes to mind when you think about skincare products. Cleanser, toners, serums, moisturizers, anti-aging creams, and acne treatments are probably at the forefront of your mind.

The use of aloe vera gel is heavily associated with helping soothe and treat painful sunburns, but there are so many other uses for aloe vera gel that you probably have no clue about.

In this post, we will explore the top five reasons why aloe vera gel should be a part of your skincare routine. You will be so impressed by aloe’s amazing benefits you will wonder how you have gone so long without it!

1. Treats Irritated Skin

Irritated Skin

If you have ever suffered from an uncomfortable skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or something similar, aloe vera gel can actually help calm these skin irritations and make them feel a whole lot better. And look better too. Certain compounds in the aloe vera can calm inflamed skin. The aloe vera is able to fight the enzymes that cause the specific irritation in the first place, getting to the root of the skin issue quickly.

2. Moisturizes Skin

Moisturize Skin

Aloe vera gel is an amazing skin moisturizer. If you want a moisturizer that is lightweight and will never feel heavy and greasy, going with good quality and pure aloe vera gel will provide you with just that. Aloe vera is also able to lock in moisturizer super effectively, so you do not have to worry about your skin drying out or becoming flaky just a few hours later like with many regular face creams and lotions.

Aloe vera gel can also function as a type of glue on the top layer of your skin, surprisingly. This will make your cells and skin hold together, resulting in a smooth and soft appearance to the skin.

3. Prevents Pimples and Breakouts

Pimple Skin Treatment

If you are looking for a natural acne solution or you have tried just about every other acne treatment in the book, you may want to give a shot at some aloe vera gel. Aloe vera is antibacterial, so if your acne and breakouts are caused by bacteria, aloe vera is effective at keeping bacteria and acne at bay. Aloe vera also contains natural salicylic acid, which is a potent ingredient that exfoliates the skin but can also unclog backed-up pores.

4. Fades Scarring (And Prevent)

If you have scarring and dark marks due to acne, you are not alone. Dark marks from pimples are extremely common, although it can feel even more annoying and frustrating than the actual pimples themselves. If you have found you are struggling with this issue, trying aloe vera gel on your discoloration may help to fade those pesky marks.

Aloe vera is even more helpful and preventing dark spots and scarring from pimples in the first place. Aloe vera contains high concentrations of powerful antioxidants that can help protect your skin and make it more resilient to irritations such as pimples.

5. Slows the Aging Process

Anti Aging Creams

Looking to prevent and even treat some wrinkles and fine lines on your face? Look no further than some aloe vera gel, of course! Aloe vera helps boost your skin’s natural ability to produce collagen, which created smoother and tighter skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Furthermore, the high levels of antioxidants and vitamins that are found in aloe vera also help protect your sensitive skin from damaging free radicals. Free radicals can do a lot of damage to your skin and make it look a lot more tired and worn out than it should. By using aloe vera on your skin on a regular basis, you can slow the process of aging down, so your skin can look radiant and youthful for many years to come. Seriously, who does not want that?

Plus, also vera gel is significantly cheaper than those super expensive anti-aging creams. There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on anti-aging products.

As you can see, there are so many amazing and surprising uses for aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel is easy to find and it is a powerful skin care product that every person should have as part of their skincare routine.

Because it is so versatile and easy to use, you cannot go wrong with the addition of a great quality aloe vera gel! Trust us, your skin is really going to love you.

This article was last updated on May 6, 2022 .

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Shiny, strong, and long-lasting… who doesn’t love gel nails? The best part is that you can get your own gel manicure at home if you want to. It’s a more involved process than simply painting your nails, but once you get good at it, your nails can always be shellacked to perfection. If you’re particularly ambitious, you can even try doing your own sculpted gel extensions at home!

You’ll have to pick up some essential tools first, but once you have everything, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars a year by doing your own gel manicure! To get you started, we’ve put together the most comprehensive guide imaginable for gel polish, poly gel extensions, and regular gel extensions. We included tips on what products to buy, a step-by-step guide, as well as some important troubleshooting tips.

In this article:

What You’ll Need to Do Your Own Gel Manicure

Gel nails are a little different from regular nail polish. The polish is made of polymers and monomers that bind and harden only after they’re exposed to UV light. Because of that, you need to have a light source, the special nail polish, as well as a few other must-have manicure tools.

We highly recommend purchasing a gel nail kit, like the Gel Polish Pro Kit from Red Carpet Manicure. The kit includes an LED lamp designed specifically to cure gel nail polish, a red LED nail polish, a base coat, a topcoat, a polish remover, a pre-manicure cleaning solution, an adhesion-improving nail dehydrating liquid, and cuticle oil.

Alternatively, you can always purchase an LED light and nail polishes separately, along with an acetone-based polish remover, isopropyl alcohol, and a special gel base coat, and a topcoat. 

Finally, you’ll also need a few tools just to help you achieve a great manicure! These include a nail buffer, cotton swabs, cotton pads, and maybe even a cuticle remover if you want to go all out.

Doing Your Own Gel Nails Step-By-Step

Once you have all of your tools prepared, it’s time to get started! Get situated somewhere comfortable, and maybe put on a TV show in the background. If you’re doing your own nails, we recommend working on one hand at a time. If you have a friend to help you, however, you can speed up the process by having them paint one hand while the other is in the lamp. 

  1. Clean and Shape

    You want to start every manicure by first washing your hands (and even soaking them in warm water) and filing them into a shape that you like. If you wish, you can also push back your cuticles or use a cuticle remover.

  2. Buff

    Then, your next move should be to rough up your nails a little with one of the medium-rough sides of a nail buffer (usually called side 2 or 3). You’ll want to buff the nail plate directly until the natural shine is gone from your nail. Don’t buff so much that you damage the nail but just enough so the gel polish has a textured surface that it can grip. 

  3. Prep

    With your nails cleaned and shaped, you still need to do a little more prep. Any oil, dust, or dirt on your nails is going to create a gap that can cause your gel nails to slide off or chip later on. Using isopropyl alcohol or an adhesion enhancer, wipe down your nails to make sure they’re totally clean and dry. 

  4. Base Coat

    Next, apply a very thin layer of your base coat to each nail. Be very careful not to get any of the base coat on your skin or on your cuticles, as that can hurt the seal over your nails. If you do get some on your cuticles, wipe it off with a cotton swab.

  5. Cure

    With all of the nails on one hand covered in base coat, place your hand into the LED lamp, and allow that layer to cure for 30-60 seconds, depending on your lamp.

  6. Paint

    Once your base is cured, you can now paint the nails! Make sure there isn’t too much polish on your brush, and slowly apply the polish from base to tip. Aim for a thin layer. It’s okay if the polish is a little see-through in that first layer.

    Gently apply the polish to the tips of your nails, as well (but don’t wrap it around to the underside of the nail). You may want to switch to a dotting tool or a smaller nail brush for this part since the nail polish brush can be a little big and messy.

    Be very careful not to get any of the polish on your cuticles or nail bed. If you do, wipe it off with a cotton swab or with a small nail polish brush dipped in alcohol or acetone (although if using acetone, be extra careful that it doesn’t disrupt your polish).

  7. Cure and Apply Second Layer

    Cure your hands under your LED lamp. Depending on the shape of the lamp, you may want to cure your thumb separately, and you might even want to do a second cure with your hand in a claw shape to properly harden the tips.

    Once that’s done, apply your second coat of polish in the same manner as you did the first and cure again. If you think that the color of the polish isn’t opaque enough, you can do a third coat and then cure that third coat, as well.

  8. Topcoat

    Finally, with all of that out of the way, you can do a final layer of topcoat. Apply the topcoat as you did the base coat and nail polish, and make sure to also apply it over the painted tips. Cure that topcoat. When you take it out of the lamp, you’ll notice that the gel is a little sticky.

    Using a cotton pad soaked in alcohol or a post-manicure cleansing liquid, wipe down the nail to remove the stickiness. That’s all there is to it! You can now move on to your other hand.

Gel Nails at Home Tutorial

Doing Your Own Sculpted Gel Nail Extensions

The world of DIY gel manicures isn’t just limited to gel polish. It requires a bit more effort and some special tools, but if you’re very handy, you can even do your own gel nail extensions at home.

What You’ll Need

To do your own gel nail extensions, you’ll need a lot of the same equipment that’s used in gel polish manicures. That includes an LED light, a nail buffer, isopropyl alcohol, disposable cotton pads, and swabs.

You’ll also need the gel that’s used to create the nail extensions, as well as a brush to apply it, its various primers, bases, and topcoats, and any gel polish colors or nail art accessories.

Poly Gel is one convenient option that comes in a tube and is often available in a larger kit with the LED and all the other must-haves.

There are also individually sold tubes of self-leveling gel that are more similar to what professionals use in the salon, although they must be purchased along with a special acid-free primer for extensions, as well as a base and topcoat.

If you purchase a larger kit, it’ll come with dual forms, which are nail-like plastic molds used to shape the nail extension from the outside. This saves you some effort sculpting, filing, and buffing the nail, so it’s great for beginners. 

Professionals prefer disposable sticker nail forms, which allow them to brush and shape the gel directly over the nail. This means that the outer part of the nail extension then has to be filed down and basically sculpted to achieve a smooth, nail-like look. The benefit is that the gel extensions adhere better to the nails and are less likely to lift or fall off. We’ll explain how to do both methods in our step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Clean, Shape, and Buff

No matter what kind of gel you’ll be using, the first part of your process should be to prep your nails. Just as with the prep of gel polish, your nails need to be clean and dry, with the cuticles pushed back or trimmed.

With gel extensions, it’s even more important that you rough up the nail plate a little with a file, as otherwise, your gel extensions are going to have a much harder time adhering to your nails.

Once you do that, your nails will be covered in a fine layer of nail dust, which you can wipe away with alcohol.

Step 2: Primer and Base Coat

With many gel nail kits, you may have a primer you need to apply first, before the base coat. The primer is an additional drying/alcohol-removing step, so if you have it, apply it lightly and only to the nail plate. Be careful not to let it touch your cuticles. Next, apply a thin layer of your base coat, and cure it in your LED lamp.

Step 3: Nail Forms

Now is the fun part, working with your nail forms! If you’re using a dual form (i.e. a plastic mold), all you need to do is pick up the correct sizes for each one of your nails. Hold the form over your nail, and make sure that it fits perfectly without leaving any gaps.   

If you have sticky nail forms, you need to grab the form and fold it a little, so it’s rounded. Then, slip your finger through its hole and make sure its end extends from just below your natural fingertip. Give it a firm press, so it rolls into a claw-like shape and so that the sides adhere to the sides of your finger.

Step 4: (Option #1) Applying Poly Gel to Dual Forms

Compared to what the professionals use, Poly Gel is a little thicker, but it’s otherwise very similar. Here’s how to create your extensions with it, using solid dual forms.

  • Pour a bit of alcohol (it’s called Slip Solution in the Beetles Kit we linked to above) into a shallow bowl.
  • Squeeze out a pea-sized amount of the gel directly onto your dual form. You might need less for very short extensions, or you can add more if you decide you want longer nails.
  • Dip your brush into the alcohol, and use it to start moving the gel around the dual form to create a nail shape. Make sure to use the brush that came with your kit, as it’ll be firm enough to work with the Poly Gel.
  • Gently push the gel around until you achieve your desired length, attempting to keep the width relatively thin.
  • Make sure not to leave any gaps in the form or along the sides and that it looks nice and smooth from below.
  • Once the shape looks neat, you can gently push the form directly against your nail, bringing it as close to the cuticle as you can.
  • Once you like your placement, push down on the form gently. Don’t overdo it, or the gel will squeeze out from the sides and get on your cuticles.
  • If the tip is looking a little too thick on the inside, use your alcohol-dipped brush to smooth the excess gel upwards to get a thinner tip. It’ll make the nail a little longer, but you can always file it down later.
  • If any of the gel did squeeze out from the sides, clean it away with your brush and alcohol.
  • Now you’re ready to cure it! Place your finger, along with the dual form, under the lamp.
  • Once fully cured, you can gently remove the form from the gentle. It should come off easily. If it doesn’t, cure the nail for a little longer.

Poly Gel kits are usually sold with hard dual forms, which is why this is the method we explain. You can also use Poly Gel with sticky nail forms, mostly following the process in the next section. The only difference is that you would need to dip your brush in alcohol to move the Poly Gel around since it’s not as fluid as self-leveling gel.

How to Do Gel Manicure at Home

Step 4: (Option #2) Applying Self-Leveling Gel to Nail Forms

This is the preferred pro technique, and while it requires a lot more finesse, many find that it gives more long-lasting and better-looking extensions. To see this process in action, check out this video from Nail Career Education.

  • To start, simply dip your brush in your tube of gel, and remove a pea-sized amount of product. Smooth the gel over your nail, starting slightly above the cuticle.
  • Since the gel is self-leveling, it will be easy to slowly and gently push it down closer to the cuticle, while if you bring it in too close right at the start, it’ll end up seeping into or over the cuticles instead.
  • Gently spread the gel over your nail plate in small, circular, or side-to-side motions, making sure to achieve complete coverage all over the nail plate.
  • Pick up more gel with your brush, and bring over the natural tip of the nail so you can start building the extension over the nail form.
  • Using dragging or back and forth motions, coax the gel gently over the nail form until it reaches slightly past your desired length. Remember that it doesn’t need to be too perfect since you’ll be filing and refining it later on. 
  • Once you have a smooth, not overly thick layer that you’re pretty happy with, cure the gel in the lamp (the amount of time depends on the kind of gel you have).
  • After curing, add more gel as necessary to build up the strength, refine your shape, and fill in any gaps.
  • Cure that second layer.
  • Now you can move on and work on your other fingers, following the same process nail by nail.

Step 5: Filing Time

With all of your nails built, attached, and cured, you’ll now want to file them. Before you just get into that, though, wipe them down with some alcohol to remove the sticky top layer. You may also want to put on a face mask to avoid inhaling the acrylic dust, although this is primarily a risk for nail techs who are at risk of breathing in the acrylic dust all day long.

Then, with a regular nail file, begin filing. With Poly Gel nails, the outer part will already be smooth and shiny, so you just need to file the edges to get them into a shape you like.

With traditional gel, start by smoothing out the outer part of the gel nails, as necessary. Always keep the file moving, and concentrate on keeping your motions rounded, so that the file is always on a diagonal angle against the nail. What’s important is that you don’t have any “shiny” spots where you missed filing altogether since those are signs of uneven pockets. If those pockets are too deep, you can add more gel and cure them again to fill them.

Then, file the tips of the extensions to achieve the shape you’d like, just as you would if you were filing regular nails. Finally, you can do a smoothing buff to achieve a nice finish.

Step 6: Topcoat

Finally, with your nails beautifully buffed, apply a topcoat to seal everything in and add a beautiful shine. You can also apply a coat of gel polish first if you want to change up the color of your extensions. Either way, make sure to cure each layer of gel polish or topcoat, as you would in a gel polish manicure.

If you opt for just a topcoat, you can always play around with regular nail polish colors. You can even switch ‘em up and keep your extensions intact by making sure to only remove them with acetone-free nail polish remover. With your gorgeous extensions in place, finish things off with a nice layer of hand cream or cuticle cream to give your nail bed a little bit of love.

Gel Manicure at Home Tutorial

DIY Gel Nail FAQ

Can I Use Regular Nail Polish with a Gel LED Lamp?

There’s a hack some DIY fans like to do, where they first apply their gel base coat, cure it, apply a regular nail polish, and then apply a gel topcoat. By sandwiching the regular nail polish between the gel base and topcoats, they hope to end up with a long-lasting gel manicure using a color that they don’t own in a gel format.

This method can sort of work, but it has some issues. There’s the potential that your nail polish won’t be completely dry before you apply that final gel topcoat (nail polish doesn’t dry completely for 24 hours, even if it seems dry). So, if you do everything in one day, you end up sealing in partially wet nail polish. This can end up lasting even less time than a regular manicure!

However, if you wait a full day to allow your regular nail polish to dry, applying a gel coat a day after may give you a slightly longer manicure than normal, although don’t expect the longevity of a full gel manicure. 

Can I Use My LED Lamp with Any Gel Polish?

Yes and no! The well-known, mainstream brands like CND, OPI, and Sally Hansen formulate their gel nail polishes to cure completely when used in conjunction with their lamps.

In a professional salon setting, a great manicurist is going to make sure that the light they’re using is designed to work with the nail polish. This is because a pro can’t afford to have any issues with curing!

When it comes to using a lamp at home, you can have a bit more freedom to experiment since faster chipping won’t be a disaster. While you’ll probably get the best results with matching sets, you may discover that your LED lamp still cures polishes from a different brand, but that perhaps you have to extend the curing time.

Troubleshooting: Why Is My Gel Polish Wrinkling or Peeling?

There are some common pitfalls to doing your own gel nails. Maybe the polish seems to wrinkle and slide off or peel. Here are the reasons why these issues may occur and what you need to do to avoid them the next time.


If your nail polish seems to bunch up or wrinkle a few hours after you’ve finished doing your nails, chances are you applied the polish too thickly. Because of that, the gel doesn’t manage to cure completely, and it slides down a little to form a wrinkle. This can be a problem since the wrinkled layer is weak, and it’ll peel away easily. Next time, just be careful to apply it in thinner layers.


Gel polish can sometimes start peeling in patches or even in one single layer, way before you’re ready for it to come off. This is usually a sign of inadequate prep. Maybe your nails were too smooth, and you didn’t buff them enough. Some people choose to buy an electric nail file, which does an even better job of roughing up the nails, although it can also be more damaging.  

Another issue might be that you had some acetone on your nails, which can disrupt the polish and prevent adhesion. That’s why we recommend cleaning the nails with alcohol at the start. 

Another potential issue is that you didn’t clean your nails enough, and there was still oil residue on them when you got started. Alternatively, maybe you touched your skin or hair after cleaning them, which ruined all that hard work of cleaning.

Photos via @imarninails, Instagram

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Has the worst come to pass, and your nails suffered damage from a gel manicure? When done (and then removed) correctly, a gel manicure shouldn’t damage your nails. Quite the opposite – it should leave them stronger! Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, after removing a gel manicure, you can discover nails that are unusually thin, brittle, and worryingly breakable.

If your nails have been damaged by a gel manicure or nail extensions, we’ve got some tips to help you revive them. Even if your nails are in relatively good shape, these tips will still help you keep them strong, so you can get back into that manicure chair in no time! 

Remove Your Gel Nails Correctly

As we already mentioned, incorrect nail extension removal is usually responsible for damaging the nails. If you haven’t taken off your gel manicure or extensions yet, then let us quickly summarize how to do it safely.

  • First, make sure to buff off the top layer of gel.
  • Then, either soak your nails in acetone or, even better, wrap them up with acetone-soaked cotton balls and some foil.
  • After 12-15 minutes, take off the foil, and scrap the gel polish off with a cuticle pusher.
  • If you’re dealing with extensions, use the cuticle pusher to gently slide the nail off, starting from the bottom of the nail near the cuticle.
  • Finally, you can gently buff away any residue. This will get rid of the glue or gel polish without much pressure or trauma to your nails. We get into this process in a lot more detail in our article on removing nail extensions.

Take a Gel Break

Gel manicures, when done correctly, are not extremely damaging to the nails. However, if your nails are already damaged, you should give them a few weeks without more gel manicures or extensions.

Filing the nail plate is an important part of any gel manicure, but if your nails are not in decent shape from the start, it’s going to be a little too damaging. Because of that, take a break of at least a few weeks to let your nails grow and get stronger before putting them through that stress again.

Get Moisturizing

Next, you should focus on fortifying your nails, cuticles, and nail bed with moisturizing products. Any thick hand cream will work well to nourish and hydrate the skin around the nails, while a cuticle oil or cream will actually penetrate through the nail plate to fill in gaps and make your nails stronger.

Many manicurists believe that the only oil that can penetrate well through the nail plate is jojoba oil. Since we haven’t found any research to corroborate this, feel free to experiment with different cuticle oils. Some people note they see better results with thicker oils like coconut oil, for example.

The reason oils are so helpful is that once they penetrate through the nail plate, they add flexibility, which makes the nail more resistant to breaking. They also prevent water from soaking into the nail and making it more brittle. 

Limit Water Exposure

Our nails absorb water easily (unfortunately, more easily than they can absorb oils), but the water isn’t particularly good for them. When saturated with water, the nails expand, and then when the water evaporates, they contract again. This weakens the bonds between the cells that make up your nails, causing them to break or peel more easily.

There are a few ways to limit water exposure, some of which we discuss in more detail throughout. In general, just try to avoid letting your nails be submerged in water for too long, including when you’re taking a bath or when you go swimming. Gloves, nail oils, and nail strengtheners can all help, as well. 

Use a Nail Strengthener

A nail strengthener is usually a clear nail polish-like product that helps to create a protective layer over the nail while also infusing it with some fortifying ingredients. It keeps your nails protected from the damage of water or harsh chemicals, and it also creates a seal that will keep them from breaking. This can be especially helpful if aggressive buffing before the gel manicure has made your nails a little too thin.

Choose a great nail strengthener that’s formaldehyde-free, and made with nitrocellulose and plant proteins.

How to Repair Damaged Nails After Gel Manicure

Switch to a Fortifying Polish

While taking a nail polish break is often a good idea when your nails are recovering, it might be hard to do. If you don’t want to totally give up on that bit of glam, opt for a traditional nail polish that’s enhanced by some nail-strengthening ingredients. You can actually choose a colored nail strengthener, like this version of OPI Nail Envy, but if you want more of a selection, try Orly’s breathable two-in-one Treatment + Color.

Opt for an Acetone-Free Remover

When it comes to removing extensions and gel mani, acetone is king. The rest of the time, it’s strong, drying stuff, which is why you should avoid it while trying to repair your nails. If you’re still going to be wearing regular nail polish, it’s important you remove it with a gentle, acetone-free nail polish remover, like the Londontown Kur Strengthening Lacquer Remover.

Wear Gloves

Wearing gloves regularly is one of the best things you can do to protect fragile nails. There are a ton of things out there that can damage your nails, like exposure to water, harsh chemicals, and the physical damage from working with your hands.

That’s why, for every situation, you should wear the appropriate pair of gloves. Reusable rubber gloves will protect your hands when you clean or do the dishes, work gloves will help when you do manual labor or work out in the garden, and disposable gloves are essential if you work in a salon or medical setting.

Drink More Water

Water is a real cure-all, especially since many of us are a little dehydrated without ever noticing. If your water consumption has been lacking, it’s possible that’s part of the reason why your nails have gotten easily damaged. Make sure you always have a reusable water bottle with you and drink up!

Consider a Supplement (But Carefully)

If your nails are chronically a little weak or brittle, it’s possible that the root cause is a nutritional deficiency. In that case, taking a supplement to make up for whatever is lacking in your diet will really help to strengthen your nails, and it’ll also help them recover more quickly from the damage of a gel manicure. Calcium, essential fatty acid, and B-vitamin deficiencies can all be responsible for weaker nails.

However, taking a supplement without fully understanding what you need can also have risks. B-vitamins like biotin are often recommended for stronger nails, but if you’re not deficient in them from the start, taking them likely won’t help.

Because of that, we suggest speaking to your doctor or to a certified dietitian before taking any supplements (and always tell your doctor what supplements you are taking).

Plan for Your Nails’ Future

As we mentioned earlier, gel manicures shouldn’t be particularly damaging to the nails. Incorrect removal is often the main cause of nail damage, but aggressive buffing before the manicure can also be an issue.

If you have your nails done at a salon, but you liked the results otherwise, you’ll need to let your nail technician know what happened. Tell them that they need to be gentler when it comes to pre-gel buffing, and hopefully, that will be enough. 

If you don’t feel comfortable expressing this to your manicurist, you may want to switch to a salon that gets great reviews or even consider learning how to do your own gel manicure!

Photos via @imarninails, Instagram

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Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home!


Do Your Own Gel Manicure at Home! abeautifulmess.com 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! abeautifulmess.com 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! abeautifulmess.com 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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These DIY shower gel recipes are made with natural ingredients, making them beneficial for your skin. Customize the ingredients to suit your skin and to avoid allergies!

1. Easy Homemade Shower Gel

Easy Homemade Shower Gel

When you want a moisturizing bath to beat winter dryness, nothing like raw honey and vitamin E to boost hydration! This recipe includes all of these together with glycerin and castile soap for some suds action. Get the details here.

2. Homemade Moisturizing Shower Gel

Moisturizing DIY Shower Gel

This easy 10-minute recipe incorporates a fine balance of nourishing ingredients like coconut oil and foaming ones like castile soap. The addition of xanthan gum enhances the probiotic quotient, making it an excellent antidote for dry, acne-prone skin craving for some love.

3. DIY Gel with Orange Essential Oil and Shea Butter

Orange Essential Oil And Shea Butter Gel

With skin-healing and antibacterial properties, this soothing, orange-scented shower gel helps your skin to retain water, thereby negating the need for applying a moisturizer throughout the day. Get the recipe here.

4. Lavender Spruce Shower Gel

Lavender Spruce DIY Shower Gel

Blending liquid surfactants into shower gels is not easy. This easy DIY shows you how to do that to get an amazingly spreadable consistency that bubbles and lathers like a dream.

5. Homemade Olive Oil Shower Gel

Gel With Olive Oil

Sure, this homemade shower gel lacks in the scent department, but its benefits are undeniable, thanks to the olive oil, which provides protection from sun damage and moisturizes deeply. Find the recipe here.

6. DIY Gel with African Black Soap

African Black Soap Gel

This easy DIY lets you enjoy the healing properties of African black soap in the form of a shower gel. It works equally useful as a face wash and so cuts down the number of products you need.

7. DIY Sugar Plum Shower Gel

DIY Sugar Plum Shower Gel

Showering with this sugar plum shower gel feels more like a luxurious spa treatment, giving you all the energy you need to run down for more holiday shopping. And the recipe is customizable according to individual preferences, so you can use any tea you want instead of sugar plum.

8. DIY Sweet & Sassy Spruce Shower Gel

Sweet And Sassy Gel

With ingredients like honey, vitamin E, and jojoba oil, this is a shower gel that your skin will thank you for. Plus, it has warm, spicy undertones, thanks to the cloves and a mild fruity fragrance of orange. Find further instructions here.

9. Homemade Gel From Castille Soap

Castile Soap DIY Shower Gel

This shower gel is a more travel-friendly version of your castile soap, with a heady, long-lasting scent thanks to the addition of essential oils like grapefruit, lemon, and geranium. Don’t forget some maple syrup for a runny texture. Here’s the recipe.

10. DIY Lemon Verbena Bubble Bath Gel

Lemon Verbera Bubble Bath Gel

This bubbling, foaming shower gel lends a pleasurable bathing experience, one that indulges the inner child in you, and leaves herbal, spa-like aroma in your bathroom as well. Find complete instructions here.

11. Homemade Body Wash With Honey + Coconut Oil

Homemade Bath Gel

For an ultra-hydrating bath in cold, dry winters, this honey-coconut body wash is your best bet. It smells like a dream, lathers easily and leaves a lingering scent in your bathroom as well. Here’s the recipe.

12. DIY Shower Gel

Now, this is one of those recipes that involve quite a bunch of minerals, but the results are worth the extra effort.

13. DIY Shower Gel From Scratch

DIY Shower Gel From Scratch

If your skin is prone to frequent breakouts and you’re looking for a tried-and-tested recipe involving organic ingredients, this DIY is your answer. It includes glycerin for extra moisture and essential oils like chamomile and lavender that soothe skin.

14. DIY Lavender Spruce Gel

Probably one of the most balanced shower gel recipes in this list, this recipe includes glycerin for moisture, baking soda for some scrubbing action, sodium coco sulfate for foam and lavender for a heady, delicious fragrance.

15. Gel With Freshen Essential Oil Blend

Essential Oil Blend Bath Gel

Combining essential oils and moisturizing almond extracts in an aromatic blend, this exfoliating yet nourishing body wash is excellent for renewing flaky skin. Find the details here.

16. DIY Rosemary Lavender Bath Gel

Rosemary Lavender Bath Gel

Infused with drops of two mood uplifting essential oils, lavender and rosemary, this energizing and foaming gel is just what you want to beat Monday morning blues. Here’s the DIY.

17. All-Natural Essential Oils Bath Gel

This insanely easy video shows you how to whip up a nourishing blend of shea butter, coconut oil and almond oil that leaves you soapy clean, without stripping off skin moisture.

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11 Best At-Home Gel Nail Kits


If you frequently visit the salon for gel manicures, you already know expensive they can be. Gel manicures can be done at home. You simply need the right tools and willingness to do it yourself. A gel manicure kit saves you not only time but also tons of money. If you want to try your hand at at-home gel manicures, you will need a beginner-friendly kit. For your reference, here are some of the finest gel nail kits to choose from.

11 Best At-Home Gel Nail Kits For Salon-Quality Gel Manicures

1. SensatioNail Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

SensatioNail Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

Need a fancy manicure that lasts for up to two weeks? Try the SensatioNail Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit. This kit is suitable for beginners and pros and comes with an LED nail lamp, gel cleanser, gel primer, base and top coat, gel polish, cotton pads, nail buffer, and manicure kit. This polish is gentle on your nails. It is recommended to apply rosehip seed oil or any essential oil on the nail bed before applying the gel nail polish. The nail polish dries in a few seconds with the LED nail lamp and lasts for up to two weeks without flaking off.


  • The LED nail lamp dries the nail paint in seconds
  • Comes with all the necessary tools required for a DIY gel manicure
  • Suitable for beginners and manicure experts
  • Lasts for up to 2 weeks
  • Does not peel off


  • May weaken your nails after removal

2. Makartt Poly Nail Gel Kit

Makartt Poly Nail Gel Kit

This best-selling nail art kit is a lot more than a normal gel manicure kit. The Makartt Poly Nail Gel Kit  comes with a gel nail extension and enhancement trial kit. This kit is perfect for manicure experts and can be used for DIY gel nails and at salons. It comes with clear nail extension gel, natural and light pink nail extension gel, base and top coat gel, dual forms, dual-ended nail brush, a spatula, a nail file, and an instruction guide. You can create some interesting and long-lasting nail art extensions using this all-in-one kit. The gel dries very quickly because of the LED lamp, and the nails become stronger and more flexible compared to other extensions. These nails are lighter than the acrylic and UV builder gel. The manufacturers also claim that these gel nails last up to a month.


  • Great for manicure experts, nail technicians, and DIY manicure lovers
  • Great value for money
  • Long-lasting results


  • Difficult to remove
  • May weaken and tear your natural nails

3. Gellen Gel Polish Kit – Ladies Elegance

Gellen Gel Polish Kit – Ladies Elegance

This mega kit gives you a long-lasting, salon-finish manicure at home. The Gellen Gel Polish Kit comes with a UV light and 4 elegant nail colors to give you the best manicures at home at a reasonable price. The kit also comes with stunning nail art rhinestones that will make your manicure pop. The kit also comes with a 24W LED lamp that perfectly cures all kinds of UV/gel-based products. If you apply it properly, the manicure lasts anywhere between 14 to 21 days. To hydrate and nourish your cuticles, the set also comes with a revitalizing nail and cuticle oil.


  • Comes with all the necessary manicure tools
  • 24W lamp dries and completes the manicure within minutes
  • Lasts up to 14-21 days


  • Does not work efficiently after 3-4 uses
  • Improper removal of this gel manicure can weaken the cuticles and natural nails

4. Ophanie Electric Nail Drill Set

Ophanie Electric Nail Drill Set

This is a complete starter kit for nail technicians and women who love to get acrylic gel nails at home. This electric drill set by Ophanie comes with a professional nail drill machine, 5 carbide drill bits, 6 original drill bits, 26 nylon wheels, 1 nail cutter set, a brush, 1 AC adapter, and a manual in English. This is a portable and travel-friendly kit you can carry anywhere. The speed is adjustable, and it is quick and easy to operate. The drill machine does not make noise and has a fast motor for best results.


  • Multipurpose set
  • Noiseless and super fast drilling machine
  • Portable and travel-friendly
  • Ideal gift for manicure lovers and nail technicians


  • Not rechargeable
  • Does not come with a detailed manual or guide

5. Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit – Red My Lips

Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit - Red My Lips

Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit has changed the game for manicure lovers and fanatics. This amazing kit has everything that will make you shift from regular nail polish to gel nail polish. With this kit, you can get up to 10 gel manicures at home that last up to two weeks. The starter kit includes cleanser pads, base coat, top coat, a remover, an LED light, and application accessories. Just with two coats of this nail enamel, your nails look freshly manicured and glossy for two weeks. The brushes spread easily and offer great coverage. The nail polish glides beautifully on the nails, preventing that thick and bulky look.


  • Each manicure lasts for two weeks
  • Glossy and shiny finish
  • Comes with 3 shade choices


  • The LED lamp is not highly durable
  • Difficult to remove

6. Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit – Shell We Dance?

Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Starter Kit - Shell We Dance

Here’s another Sally Hansen product that offers long-lasting and salon-quality gel nails. This travel-friendly kit has a cleanser, base coat, top coat, remover, an LED lamp, and application accessories.   Use the three vibrant base coats for the perfect gel manicure. A manicure done with this kit has a rich glossy finish and lasts longer than regular nail polish. The lamp dries the nail polish in minutes.


  • Offers salon-quality gel manicures at home
  • Lasts up to 2 weeks
  • Suitable for beginners, nail technicians,and manicure lovers
  • Comes with three vibrant base coat shades


  • The LED lamp is not highly durable
  • Difficult to remove

7. Leafu Modelones Gel Nail Starter Kit

Leafu Modelones Gel Nail Starter Kit

Leafu Modelones Gel Nail Starter Kit is a gift-worthy manicure kit that will inspire you to start doing your nails at home. This is an affordable and high-quality product to consider if you love manicures. It is a small kit but includes everything you need for at-home manicures. The kit includes a nail cutter, cuticle oil, a nail file brush, a nail dust brush, a nail buffer, a polishing file, a double-sided cuticle pusher, a cuticle fork, a nail separator, a cleaner pad and a remover wrap. The gel nail polish glides beautifully on the nails and dries quickly with the help of the LED lamp. The folding nail curing lamp can be charged with a laptop or a charger. The gel colors allow you to choose from your favorite shades.


  • The top coat seals the nail polish and secures it for up to 2 weeks.
  • 6W mini lamp dries the manicure quickly
  • Affordable
  • Travel-friendly


  • Not suitable for damaged or broken skin/nails
  • Needs to be removed carefully

8. Gellen Gel Polish Starter Kit – Peach Pinks

Gellen Gel Polish Starter Kit - Peach Pinks

The Gellen Gel Polish Starter Kit comes with a 24W LED lamp, base coat, top coat, and all the necessary application tools. This 32-piece manicure kit is a great gift idea for manicure fanatics. The manicure lasts for up to 2 weeks. The vibrant gel nail polish shades will get you addicted to this mini starter kit.


  • The 24W LED lamp dries nails quickly
  • Great top coat that seals the nail polish with a glossy finish
  • Lasts up to 14-21 days


  • Does not dry quickly
  • Not very durable

9. Gellen Gel Nail Starter Kit – Caramel Reds

Gellen Gel Nail Starter Kit – Caramel Reds

Try the amazing Gellen Gel Nail Starter Kit in the Caramel Red shades to create a holiday-ready look. This kit comes with a delicate gift box, nail art rhinestones, a 24W LED lamp with LED display, gel nail polishes, top coat, base coat, striping tapes, and all  the necessary manicure tools. The top and base coats create a luxurious gel manicure and last long. The rhinestonesare great for doing nail art.


  • Lightweight kit
  • The 24W LED lamp dries nails quickly
  • Lasts up to 14-21 days


  • Does not dry quickly
  • Not very durable

10. Gelish Mini Soak Off Gel Nail Polish Complete Starter Kit

Gelish Mini Soak Off Gel Nail Polish Complete Starter Kit

Gelish Mini Soak Off Gel Nail Polish Complete Starter Kit is perfect for manicure enthusiasts. This kit comes with an LED lamp to cure the manicure. The kit comes with 5 vibrant gel nail polishes, a surface cleanser, nail remover, and Gelish Basix kit. The manicure dries within 30 seconds of application due to the powerful LED lamp. The brush has customized bristles to offer smooth and smudge-free application. The gel nail polish is supposed to last for up to 3 weeks.


  • High-quality starter kit with 5 pretty nail polishes
  • Lasts up to 3 weeks
  • Does not flake
  • Customized bristles allow full coverage and better gliding


  • Very small kit
  • Travel-sized lamp does not fit all the 5 fingers

11. Saint-Acior Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

Saint-Acior Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit

Saint-Actor Gel Nail Polishes are not only easy to apply but also easy to remove. The starter kit comes with a powerful 36W LED UV curing lamp that cures your nails within seconds. The 10 vibrant and gorgeous nail polishes will steal your heart. The kit also comes with top and base coats to seal the nail polish with a glossy and rich finish. This manicure stays untouched and offers a mirror shine for up to 2 weeks.


  • Perfect starter kit for someone who wants to switch from traditional nail polishes to gel-based manicures
  • Cures the nails within seconds
  • Easy to apply and remove
  • Lasts for more than 2 weeks


  • Lamp is not highly durable
  • Takes a few trials for first-time users

Gel manicures are very gentle onyour natural nails. The polish remains untouched and glossy for a couple of weeks with the same shine and no peeling. However, before you choose the right kit, make sure that you are aware of what you need. Choose a beginners or mini kit if you are a newbie to gel nail polishes. Spend money on the drill kits and mega gel manicure kits only if you are are a pro at DIY manicures.

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Gel nail polish has made our lives a lot easier with long-lasting, great-looking nails. They’re not as easy to peel off, scratch, or get ruined making them perfect for everyday use. However, there are times when you can harm your nails if you don’t take proper care of them.


If you wear gel nail polish, here are 10 mistakes to avoid:



Not moisturizing your nails and cuticles

gel nail polish

Via: iSalon – Gel nail polish mistakes

Many people don’t understand the importance of moisturizers when it comes to nails. In fact, nails need to be moisturized just as much as your skin.  In order to make sure your nails get the proper hydration they need, use natural oils such as argan, jojoba, or almond oil to moisturize the nails and cuticles.


However, make sure you don’t use moisturizer or oils on your nails or cuticles right before you use gel nail polish. This is because the gel nail polish will not stick or last as long as it should.


Peeling or picking off gel nail polish

Gel nail polish

Via: Auswax – Gel nail polish

There’s a whole tactic to removing gel nail polish without ruining it and without causing harm to your nails. However, peeling or picking it off can be very harmful to your nails. Gel nail polish usually lasts around two weeks; however, it is common that it starts peeling before that.


If it does, do not try to peel it off yourself as you’ll have to wait for the entire nail to grow back to be able to have a clean slate. Removing gel nail polish without ruining it or damaging your nails requires professional help.


Leaving a gel nail polish for too long

gel nail polish mistakes

Via: Shutterstock – Gel nail polish mistakes

While the gel nail polish is supposed to last longer than normal nail polish, it should not be kept on for longer than two to three weeks. it is quite tempting to keep them on for longer, especially if they haven’t peeled or cracked, but it can lead to harmful bacteria.


Not giving your nails a break between application

gel nail polish mistakes

Via: Bigstock – Gel nail polish mistakes

Getting a back-to-back gel nail polish application can really affect your nails on the long run. With instant application, your nail can become dehydrated which leads to breakage. Before you get your next gel nail polish, make sure that a professional examine the health of your nails and gives you the green light to prevent your nails from getting damaged.



Applying a really thick layer of gel manicure

gel nail polish mistakes

Via: Fashion Kit – Gel nail polish mistakes

One of the common gel nail polish mistakes is that the surface will seem uneven. This usually happens when a really thick layer is applied as it will glob up in certain areas and become difficult to flatten out. When it’s not applied in an even coat, it could end up ruining your entire gel manicure as it will start lifting easily.


Further reading:

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