I got my kit from catch.com.au, but here is a great article about some great starter kits.
To start off with, I removed any old nail polish still left on my nails with the acetone remover, I thought it was a great idea to wear a glitter based one – so this took me a long time! At this point – if you want to cut or file your nails, now is the perfect time.
This kit is great because it is fairly quick and easy to learn how to do, which each of the different polishes or seals (there is generally 3 or 4), you apply, and then 'seal' under the UV light for either 30 or 60 seconds.
The next thing to do is clean off your nails, with a lint-free pad and some gel cleanser. This works to remove any lasting dirt and any little bits of dust or lint that may be sitting on the surface of your nails
My nails all clean and ready to start with the base coat
Then with the 'gel primer', you apply a light cover to each of your nails and pop them under the UV lamp for 30 seconds to seal. Here's what I learnt the other day about primer! It is actually really important when doing gel or acrylic manicures! The primer actually removes and grease and changes the pH of your nail surface, so that the next layers of polish adhere to your nail better and reduces any air bubbles. It basically makes your manicure smoother and longer lasting – I would recommend trying to find a kit that includes one.
My UV lamp is a little on the smaller side, if this is the case with yours, a great option is to seal four fingers on one hand under the lamp, and then both thumbs at once, and then the remaining four fingers! I have found this leads to a much better result overall when sealing colour.
This is what your gel nail polish looks like under the UV lamp!
Then after primer, you apply the base coat. This is a clear coat of gel polish that gets sealed for 1 minute under the UV lamp. The base coat works further to get the colour polish to stick to your nails (and for longer!), and prevents the colour staining the nails and nail beds after removal!
It also looks really nice and shiny. If you are looking for something more lowkey – this is a great option as the base can also be used in lieu of a colour for your gel nails, super shiny and healthy looking!
My nails with the sealed gel base coat - so shiny!
Now you can apply the colour polish. You will need to make sure it is a gel specific polish, or it won't last as long! Depending on the colour, will depend on how many coats you will need on your nails! A darker more pigmented colour may only need 2, But a lighter colour – like the "Seafoam Green" I am using, will need at least 3 coats to look even and completed. The process is the same as with the other layers, but make sure to seal for 60 seconds, each coat between layers. This increases the longevity of your manicure!
As you can see, the first coat of colour looks a little patchy, but with each additional layer and sealing, it starts to look really good.
the first colour layer, sealed and ready for the next
It is at about this point in my self-done manicure that I start to see all the work that I am paying for when I get them done at a salon professionally! But the end result is definitely worth the money saved – especially in this precarious period of time, when many places have been affected by government closures, and you have no other choice!
But you aren't done yet! (almost!). After the colour coats, you need to apply and seal a top clear coat to look it all in. Depending on your kit this polish may be the same as the base coat. Apply generously and seal for 30 seconds.
You may notice, that your nails are a little tacky to the touch after all these steps. The very final step to grab your lint free pad, and some gel cleanser and gently wipe over each nail. This removes the moisture on the nails from all that sealing and completes the maincure – going from tacky to gel (rock?) hard!
I am pretty pleased with my end result this time – I have been getting better at staying on the nails with the polish and this has paid off! What do you think?
the final result - a little messy, but bright and happy (and cost me nothing!)
I have big plans to flash these blue beauties in front of the camera of all my zoom lectures and meetings (for at least two weeks because that's how long they last and look good for!), and have everyone marvel over my nails when, due to salon closures they thought a manicure impossible!