We don't use the term "best" lightly. It's such a subjective term – what's best for you might not be best for your bff, or what you think is best might be seen as not-even-close by someone else.
But when it comes to Manigeek Karen's DIY UV gel manicure technique, we think this is absolutely the best way to apply UV gel at home, whether you plan to use it as a protective base for regular nail colour as she does, or go for a full UV-gel colour mani.
That said, nothing works for everyone, although we're optimistic about this process. We also want to make clear that Manigeek is not a licensed nail technician. She's developed these techniques over years of her own applications and in close association with internationally-recognized nail-expert friends.
diy uv gel manicure tool kit
If this is the first time you're applying your own UV gel polish, you'll have to prep your nails well first. You'll need:
- a double layer of good quality paper towels to protect your work surface
- 100% acetone to clean off any old polish and oil residue ($20 CAD/235mL at amazon.ca and $12.37 USD/32oz at amazon.com)
- a cuticle pusher to nudge back those cuticles
- a fine- or 180-grit nail file for shaping your nails
- a medium-fine buffing block (you'll use the fine side) for lightly buffing the shine – just the shine – from your clean, natural nails
- UV-manicure nail sanitizer, such as Red Carpet Prep ($5.25 at nailpolishcanada.com and $9.58 USD at amazon.com)
- UV-gel base, such as Gelish Foundation ($22.45 CAD at nailpolishcanada.com and $26.60 USD in a set with Gelish Top It Off at amazon.com)
- UV-gel top coat, such as Gelish Top It Off ($22.45 CAD at nailpolishcanada.com and $26.60 USD in a set with Gelish Foundation at amazon.com)
- UV lamp that works with the brand of UV gel you use (Red Carpet Manicure Pro Kit including lamp, $111 at amazon.ca and $73 at amazon.com)
rules of engagement
Think of these tips as gospel when it comes to achieving a UV-gel mani that lasts without lifting or chipping in less than two weeks.
- Be as precise and perfectionistic as possible.
- Don't touch prepped nails with fingertips or hair or anything before you get your UV gel base down.
- Do not use UV gel in direct sunlight.
- Apply very thin coats.
- Avoid getting the gel on sidewalls or cuticles.
There are, of course, many more tips in Manigeek's video tutorial, but here are a few to keep in mind right now:
- If you want to use UV gel as a base for nail polish, use 100% gel, such as Gelish, Red Carpet Manicure, Entity, Artistic Colour Gloss or OPI GelColor – their top coats are acetone-proof, so you can change the nail polish colour you put on top without wrecking the finish of the UV-gel.
- CND Shellac Original Top Coat and CND Shellac Xpress 5 Top Coat aren't gel; they're vulnerable to acetone, so we don't recommend them if you like to change your nail polish colour often.
- If you'd prefer to use CND Shellac, however, according to nail expert Leeanne Colley, owner of Tips Nail Bar in Toronto, the brand's newest top coat, CND Shellac Duraforce ($36.84 CAD at amazon.ca and $24.95 USD at amazon.com), will hold up to acetone well enough that you can change your nail colour more than once. (It's not gel either, but it's a denser formula than its predecessors, very strong and crazy shiny. Use it with CND Shellac Power Base Coat: $23.38 CAD at amazon.ca; currently out of stock on amazon.com – check your local salon.)
- Use a CND UV lamp ($239.99 CAD at amazon.ca and $149 USD at amazon.com) if you go the CND Shellac Duraforce route.
- When you wear a UV-gel mani, you may find that your cuticles stay neat and tidy without any extra attention.
best way to apply uv-gel polish at home
Application aside, most folks are more worried about taking off UV gel themselves without damaging their nails. So here's our post on the Best Way to Remove UV Gel Polish at Home!
And of course, if you have questions or comments or tips to share after you've watched this application tutorial, please comment away!