At-Home Gel Manicures (And How to Remove Them)

How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style
Reading Time: 4 minutes

How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style

Why spend a fortune each month going to a nail salon, when you can do your own gel manicures at home for a fraction of the price? Easy and fun!

I’ve always been nail polish-obsessed. Growing up, it was all about discovering and trying the new nail trends. Everything from matte nails to crackle polish to blues and burgundies so dark they looked black (but weren’t). I would paint my nails several times a week to match different outfits and use up hours of my own time to make sure they dried – even more frustrating when I would go to zip up my pants or fall asleep and they’d still smudge.

As a teenager and into my early 20’s, I would go to a little nail salon down the street from my house at least 2-3 times a month. I spent about $30 on a gel manicure, and made small talk with the staff while I waited an hour or two for them to complete the process on my nails. I loved how much longer shellac lasted than regular polish, but it was certainly a pricey experience. Then I discovered the beauty of gel manicures at home!


[ Product Details ]

updated UV lamp by Abody | top & base coats | neutral gel colors | holiday gel colors | cuticle trimmer and pusher

How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style

My friends, the process of an at-home gel manicure is as simple as reciting the alphabet.

Let me give you some step-by-step instructions to make it as easy as I can, because I can assure you that the minute you’ve finished reading this post, you’ll want a UV light and shellac colors for yourself! In fact, I’ve raved about this process so much that my mom got a lamp, my sister purchased one for her best friend, and one of my childhood besties got one! And if you follow my steps diligently, you won’t cause any damage to your nails, and they’ll look fantastic!

Application

Make sure you’ve pushed and cut your cuticles, filed your nails, and cleaned the surface with non-acetone nail polish remover.
Use the base coat and apply a light coverage to your nails, then put them beneath the lamp for 60 seconds.
Apply the first coat of color and make sure you don’t lather it on too thick. Dry them under the UV light for 2 minutes.
Repeat the last step for the second coat of color, and only apply a third if you find it completely necessary. The lighter the coats, the longer the color lasts.
Finish with the top coat and leave under the lamp for 3 minutes.
Your nails will be 100% dry and ready to go. You don’t need to wait or be careful with them. They won’t smudge or crease or crackle and they can last for up to a month if you take good care of them!

Removal

Lightly buff the top of your nails with a nail board.
Soak small bits of cotton balls in 100% acetone and place over your nails.
Wrap in aluminum foil and keep your fingers in place for at least 30 minutes. This is a good time to wind down with a Netflix show or podcast.
Pull the aluminum off and you should notice that the polish is already peeling around the edges and nail-beds.
Use the curved side of a stainless steel cuticle pusher to scrape the remainder of the shellac off your nails.
File with a nail board and then buff.
Swipe your nails with non-acetone nail polish remover and wash your hands.
Apply a lotion or vitamin-E oil as you please to maintain the strength of your nails!

Related Posts: 30 Items I Couldn’t Live Without in Spring 2019 // The Complete List of Tips for Your Best Spray Tan Ever // 3 Lip Products You Should Be Using Right Now

How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style

Here’s two helpful infographics for you to remember the steps for applying and removing gel manicures at home!

How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style
How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style

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How to Apply and Remove Gel Manicures At Home | She Saw Style

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78 Comments

  • Reply
    Madison Fichtl
    June 3, 2019 at 9:47 AM

    Ohh I need to try this! I hate spending the money every month at the salon.

    xo,
    Madison | Madison-Fichtl.com

  • Reply
    Carrington Barfield
    June 3, 2019 at 9:59 AM

    I NEED to try this!! I always feel like such a weird girl because I literally hate having to go get my nails done at the nail salon. Definitely going to give this a try, your nails look PROFESSIONAL quality!

    Xx,
    Carrington

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:16 PM

      I totally understand where you’re coming from! I think you’d love using these products at home. You’ll save money, you don’t need to change out of your pajamas, and you can pamper yourself all at once!

  • Reply
    Katie Buller
    June 3, 2019 at 10:33 AM

    This is so useful! I definitely need to try this out – going to the salon is just so expensive!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:15 PM

      WAY to expensive, if you ask me. This has been totally cost-effective in the long run, and it’s so much fun to have my girlfriends over to do their nails now that I’ve learned to do them properly!

  • Reply
    Lina Melo
    June 3, 2019 at 10:36 AM

    I’m going to try this, I don’t like to spend too much money to get my nails done!
    Besides, your nails look amazing and very professional!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:15 PM

      I don’t either. In fact, I like to save money in any way I can. This has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years, along with a ton of time. I even did my bridesmaids’ nails (and mine) for my own wedding!

  • Reply
    Lee
    June 3, 2019 at 10:45 AM

    Ive never been able to get at an home gel manicure that looks good; but your nails look fantastic, so i think i need to try this one out!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:14 PM

      It takes a little practice, but once you’ve got the process down, it’s totally worth it!

  • Reply
    Tonya Morris
    June 3, 2019 at 11:05 AM

    You make it look so easy! I can never do my own nails, but you’ve definitely inspired me to try!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:14 PM

      I had a really hard time with it for a while, as well. However, when it comes to shellac – it applies a lot easier than regular nail polish and dries prettier – creating a more professional appearance, even from home!

  • Reply
    Tanvi Rastogi
    June 3, 2019 at 1:54 PM

    Gel manicure does not agree with my nails unfortunately. It is such a time saver though, because it lasts longer.

    ❥ tanvii.com

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:13 PM

      Hmm I wonder why! I’ve never had any issue with the shellac, itself. The only time there’s been a challenge was when I didn’t remove the product properly. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to give it another go in the future!

  • Reply
    Rach
    June 3, 2019 at 3:53 PM

    I didn’t even think it was possible to get gel manicure at home! This would save me lots of money haha. Thank you for the step by step tutorial!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:12 PM

      Oh gosh, yeah! It’s totally life-changing haha! I love being able to do it all from home after a long day of work. I sit down with a fun bev, put on a show, and do my nails. Talk about great self-care!

  • Reply
    Morgan
    June 3, 2019 at 5:18 PM

    I’m constantly wanting to change my nail colors and should definitely invest in a system like this!

    -Morgan
    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:11 PM

      I’m the type of person who would switch up colors every day depending on the outfit, if I could! Now I kinda can if I really want to. It’s so much less expensive and less time-consuming to do it from home!

  • Reply
    Delia Atenea
    June 3, 2019 at 6:25 PM

    Stephanie you make this look so easy! I’ve debated about buying all this stuff in the past. I think I’m gonna give it a shot. Hopefully my nails come out as pretty as yours!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:10 PM

      You definitely should – and let me know what you think when you do! It’s been such a great option for me now that I’m trying to save my pennies every which way I can!

  • Reply
    Carolyn
    June 3, 2019 at 7:59 PM

    This is a great tutorial! I love having my nails done, but the price can be a deterrent. This is a great way to still get your nails done without having to spend money each time. You made this look like I could actually do it haha!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:10 PM

      Haha! Practice makes perfect. I used to really struggle with doing my nails, but honestly gel looks way better than regular polish in the long run anyways. So this routine has come in handy in more ways than one!

  • Reply
    Kiara Carniewski
    June 3, 2019 at 9:15 PM

    I’ll be saving myself the trip to the salon and take off my current gel manicure at home! Thank you so much for sharing how you can easily make this work without the extra cost. Awesome tips 🙂

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:09 PM

      Oh yeah, absolutely! It’s been a total lifesaver, learning how to do all this from home. It also saves me so much money!

  • Reply
    Kileen
    June 3, 2019 at 9:37 PM

    Love this post babe! SO helpful, especially when I can’t make it to the salon!

    Kileen
    cute & little

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:09 PM

      Plus WAY less expensive than trying to get it done professionally 😉

  • Reply
    Indya | The Small Adventurer
    June 3, 2019 at 9:43 PM

    I’m not going to lie: I’m pretty blown away by this! I actually didn’t know you could do this at home. I used to LOVE getting my nails done, but now that I work with food I can no longer do that. However, I could totally give myself a gel manicure at home during my days off, then take it off before I go back to work!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:08 PM

      OMG girl you’ve GOTTA try this for yourself. I totally understand not wanting to have a lot of nail polish on when you work with food – it comes off so quickly. But gel lasts for WEEKS if you do it correctly. Plus it’s a lot less expensive than a salon, and you can give yourself a full manicure in less than an hour this way!

  • Reply
    Christa
    June 3, 2019 at 9:50 PM

    As much as I’d love to go for a professional manicure, I can’t ever justify the expense. This post gives me the confidence to try it at home!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:07 PM

      Right? It can be SO pricey and with a regular manicure, the polish never lasts more than a day or so (for me). The at-home gel option has been a total time and money-saver!

  • Reply
    Summer
    June 3, 2019 at 10:09 PM

    Yessss! So good! So, I’ve been using Sensationail’s at-home gel kit and I love it. I need to check out what you’re using, too! I love how it’s much more intentional and affordable to do it at home. P.S. Your photos are too fun!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:06 PM

      I’ve gotta try those gel polishes. I’m curious to see how other brands compare to Gellen – since this is the only line I’ve tested so far!

  • Reply
    Jerrieal Small
    June 4, 2019 at 12:32 AM

    Love this! Now that I have a baby I need to cut back on some of my extra expenses I would spend on my self. I get dip every2 weeks and it cost $40 😳. Seeing the numbers really made me want to save that money. This post is great!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:06 PM

      Exactly! I was spending INSANE amounts going to the salon so frequently, and with this process I’m saving money and time PLUS finding a way to treat myself without leaving the house.

  • Reply
    Gita
    June 4, 2019 at 1:24 AM

    I used to be solely on the gel board, but I quit bc it was messing up my nails big time. Now I only do it when I go on long vacations. I think one of the problem was removal. If a technician is not good/ not patient with removal, they can really mess up your nails. I think one of the extra benefit of doing it at home is that you can take more time and not hurry through it.

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:05 PM

      I definitely think that if someone isn’t careful or doesn’t remove them properly, they can harm your nails. However, I’ve found that taking the time to learn the process and do it intentionally has created zero damage to my nails or the skin surrounding!

  • Reply
    Lizzie
    June 4, 2019 at 2:54 AM

    I love that you can do it at home! The results look amazing – so professional! Definitely want to try these out 🙂

    Lizzie
    http://www.lizzieinlace.com

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:04 PM

      It might take a bit of time to practice, but once you’ve got it down, it’s SO easy and takes hardly any time. I like to do them right before a photoshoot day and it’s so nice that there’s no wait time for the drying process.

  • Reply
    Laura
    June 4, 2019 at 8:15 AM

    I’m definitely going to need to get this for myself! Gel manicures cost so much and if it’s that easy to do them at home, I might as well try!

    xo, Laura

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:03 PM

      They really can cost a LOT if you regularly update your nail color and go back for removal. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars this way!

  • Reply
    Annie
    June 4, 2019 at 8:49 AM

    This sounds like such a great idea to save money. Do you know how safe the UV light is? I know it’s in short bursts, but since I have to be very careful of UV rays when I go outside (I’m at a high risk for skin cancer), do you think this would be safe for me do? Thank you!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:03 PM

      Great question! Paolo Boffetta, the director of cancer prevention at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York says, “Being exposed to such a low dose, for only a few minutes, on only a small percent of the total surface of the body — we don’t have any data on that, because the risk would be so small that it would be almost impossible to detect it. Being outside on a very sunny day will make a much bigger difference, in terms of the amount of exposure people get compared to this sort of thing.” Check out this article for more information!

  • Reply
    Monica
    June 4, 2019 at 9:14 AM

    So helpful to see your tips for applying and removing a gel manicure! I have had the worst time removing gel in the past and I also end up pulling it off, which I know is terrible for my nails!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:01 PM

      Ahh I know how hard it can be to stop yourself from pulling the shellac off (I’m guilty)! But if you follow the removal steps, it’s actually pretty simple, and I haven’t seen any issue with my nails!

  • Reply
    TianShanae
    June 4, 2019 at 9:55 AM

    I need this! I hate going to the salon to my nails done. This would be so convenient for me.

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 2:00 PM

      I used to really enjoy the process, but I didn’t enjoy spending all that money. Now I can pour a glass of wine, stick on my favorite show, and relax while I pamper myself after a long day!

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 4, 2019 at 10:54 AM

    Love that little graphic you created – makes it so much easier to remember how to apply & remove!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 1:59 PM

      That’s what I was hoping for! I have friends who come to me regularly to ask about the times under the lamp and the removal process. This makes it a bit simpler!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    June 4, 2019 at 11:39 AM

    What a cool kit!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 1:59 PM

      It’s actually not a kit. Everything was purchased separately and I taught myself how to apply and remove the products. Hope you get a chance to read through!

  • Reply
    Hillary Conheady
    June 4, 2019 at 1:07 PM

    Ah this is so awesome!!! I’ve got to try this ASAP!!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 4, 2019 at 1:58 PM

      You definitely do. It’s totally life-changing. Such a time and money-saver!

  • Reply
    Sarah Lindner
    June 4, 2019 at 3:01 PM

    I wish I had the skill or patience to paint my own nails! Yours look so pretty!

    xoxo Sarah

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:05 PM

      This really doesn’t take any patience considering there’s no “dry time.” Just a few minutes for each nails and TA-DA! All done!

  • Reply
    Lily
    June 4, 2019 at 6:52 PM

    I love doing my own nails! I haven’t tried doing at-home gel though. Might have to try it out soon.

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:06 PM

      You definitely gotta try it. Way less time-consuming and so much fun!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Vargas
    June 4, 2019 at 7:51 PM

    I use to love doing my own nails. But gel never really lasted long on my nails because it would chip. That’s why I switched to dip powders. BUT I do love gel on my toe nails.

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:07 PM

      Wow! I’ve never ever had gel polish chip, only regular nail lacquer. I wonder what would happen if you tried gel polish at home with your own UV light!

  • Reply
    Erin
    June 4, 2019 at 11:34 PM

    I use this exact same light but found a dif brand of polish that stays on longer that I’m a total fan of! Has saved me SO much money.

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:09 PM

      Oooh what brand do you use? Now I’m curious. I’ve only ever tried Gellen and I totally love it, but I’m open to other options too!

  • Reply
    Sarah at Ponder Trail
    June 5, 2019 at 6:49 AM

    This is so neat, Stephanie! I love your photos and how you broke down the whole process. I’ve never tried gel nails, but they look so pretty. That last photo of you is super cute! 🙂

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:10 PM

      You definitely need to try them out at some point. Life-changing haha! It’s so much less time and money!

  • Reply
    Taylor Mobley
    June 5, 2019 at 8:32 AM

    I will never go back after learning how to do this at home a few months ago! It’s so easy and I can do it on the fly when I need to. Not to mention saving money!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:10 PM

      RIGHT? It’s the best EVER. I love how it takes so much less time and saves me crazy amounts of money!

  • Reply
    Azanique Rawl
    June 5, 2019 at 1:07 PM

    I’ve never thought about doing my own gel manicure but this makes it look so easy! I should totally try 🙂

    -xo, Azanique | https://www.lotsofsass.com

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:11 PM

      Oh girl you will never go back once you try this at home. SO much more affordable and so much LESS time-consuming!

  • Reply
    Deborah
    June 5, 2019 at 1:15 PM

    I LOVE gel manis and I love doing my own nails! You make it look so much easier than when I do it though haha!

    • Reply
      Stephanie Whitman
      June 5, 2019 at 2:11 PM

      Hahah! Well it’s taken a lot of trial and error and practice, but now I think I’ve got it down!

  • Reply
    Lavenda
    June 5, 2019 at 7:11 PM

    I love a good Gel mani! Wow you are making it look so easy thank you so much for sharing! I hope you have such a great day babe!

    xoxo,
    Lavenda

  • Reply
    Anna English
    June 5, 2019 at 10:15 PM

    I’m the worst at painting my own nails, but you make this look super easy!

  • Reply
    Kenzi || Life of a Sister
    June 6, 2019 at 6:47 AM

    This is perfect! I love how simple you make it look! I definitely need to try this.

  • Reply
    Renee || Getting Fit Fab
    June 6, 2019 at 7:08 AM

    I’ve always wanted to learn how to do my own gel manicures, but never thought much about it. I’ll have to try this the next time I need my nails done for something.

  • Reply
    Cathy
    June 6, 2019 at 7:55 PM

    Love this at home process. That heater is so cool, I need to get one for myself!!

    XOXO
    Cathy

  • Reply
    Nailil
    June 9, 2019 at 10:04 PM

    This is so helpful! I always wondered how to remove gel polish at home!

    Xx, Nailil
    thirtyminusoneblog.com

  • Reply
    Laura Leigh
    June 10, 2019 at 9:11 AM

    This is so incredibly helpful gal! Really appreciate you putting this together and going into such detail. Will save me lots of time and money for sure! Also, as always, your Pinterest graphics are amazing!

    xo Laura Leigh
    http://www.louellareese.com

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 10, 2019 at 6:40 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this valuable information. I have always wanted to do these at home!

  • Reply
    Becky
    June 13, 2019 at 3:45 PM

    I almost never go get my nails done anywhere (sometimes I’ll splurge at a salon and do my toenails). I use Jamberry but I bought a gel system to do a clear top coat and I love it! It lasts so long and looks so shiny and pretty!

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    June 13, 2019 at 8:48 PM

    Oh you’re so brave! I can’t even paint my nails with regular polish!

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