Gel manicures are the bomb. It is well worth paying a little extra to get a manicure that lasts twice as long and stays bright and shiny the whole time. The only drawback is if you don’t know the tricks of the trade, you must always go to the nail salon. Gel polish is the dickens to remove. So, if you are like me, always trying to be thrifty, and want to save a little money and do the manicure yourself, here is how to do it and UNDO it right. Just make sure you have a UV or LED nail lamp to cure the gel polish with!

Off With The Old Gel:

Buff First! Use a nail file to gently buff the top of each gel polished nail. Once you’ve lost the shine that’s good enough. You don’t want to buff down to your natural nail.

#2 Soak! Saturate a cotton ball in 100% acetone nail polish remover. Put the soaked cotton ball on top of your fingernail and wrap it up with a bit of aluminum foil. Wrap it tight enough that there is enough pressure so that the nail gets a thorough soaking. After you have wrapped all of your fingertips, let them soak for about fifteen minutes.

#3 Removal! Remove the cotton from your fingertips. Use a wooden cuticle stick to gently push what remains of the gel polish off of each nail. Be careful not to lose patience and force it. You could end up injuring yourself and harming your nail. Instead, soak another cotton ball, rewrap the fingertip and let it soak another five minutes then try again.

Final Step, Moisturize! Once all the gel polish is removed, wash your hands and massage cuticle oil into nails and cuticles. This will help to strengthen the nail and prevent dryness and brittle breakage. If you plan to do a fresh manicure after the polish removal process, let the nails moisturize for about five minutes then wash and dry hands thoroughly.

Before I offer my manicure instructions on applying the gel polish, I will offer up one tip first. Do one hand at a time. When I say this, I mean one hand COMPLETELY. Wait for the polish to set and completely cure and then do the other hand. Once the polish has cured and is completely dry, you don’t have to worry about smudging and starting all over again. Also, plug up and turn on your UV or LED light before you begin the manicure steps.

Manicure Step 1:  Shape your nails with a nail file. Very gently push back cuticles with a cuticle pusher. Wipe each nail with a cotton ball soaked in nail polisher remover to remove any debris.

Manicure Step 2: Apply an extremely thin base coat making sure to cover the entire nail bed. It will cure quickly so you only need to keep it under a UV light for about two minutes.

Manicure Step 3: Apply one coat of gel polish. Don’t worry if it appears with streaks. The next coat will resolve that problem. Repeat for a second coat and even a third if you want. There is no hard and fast rule here.

Manicure Step 4: Apply the “brilliance” which is the shiny top coat. One coat should be sufficient but you can go for two if you like. Then cure the paint job under the UV light. For a timing rule, I generally allow about thirty seconds for each coat of polish.

Manicure Step 5: Once polish has cured, you will want to remove a tacky layer that will appear on the surface. Simply wipe nails with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl alcohol. Finish by massaging cuticle oil into all cuticles and moisturizing cream to entire hands.

You should now feel like a million bucks because you saved a few bucks and your nails look fabulous! You’re welcome!