You may have heard of gel nails and might not know much about them or perhaps you are thinking of getting gel nails and want to learn more. You may want to learn how to do gel nails at home. You might also be thinking, what is gel nail polish and can I use gel nail polish on natural nails? If you have had gel nails done you may want to know how do you remove gel nails? Let’s take a look at gel nails and gel nail polish and answer some of those questions.

How to do Gel Nails:


Gel nails are very time consuming, so keep this in mind if you plan to have this process done. You will need a few hours to get them done properly, and will not be able to do anything else while they are being done, so be sure you have the time and patience before you begin. It is up to you how to do gel nails, as you can have gel nails applied at a nail salon or even do them at home. Gel nails can be created using just the gel to form the nail or used in combination with an artificial nail tip. If you are looking to save money in the long run and you plan to wear gel nails often, then you may want to learn to how to do gel nails at home. In the long run, doing your nails at home will save you money compared to having your nails done at a salon every two to three weeks.

1. Supplies Needed for Gel Nails:

  • Nail clippers or scissors (to trim your nails or artificial nail tips)
  • Cuticle Oil (can use Jojoba or Olive oil)
  • Wooden orange stick or clean popsicle stick (to push back cuticles)
  • Nail buffer
  • Emery board (180 grit most recommended)
  • Lint free cleansing wipes
  • Gel Cleanser or Rubbing Alcohol (Isopropyl)
  • Gel Primer
  • Gel Bonder
  • Gel Builder
  • Gel Polish(es)
  • Gel Top Coat
  • UV lamp or LED lamp
  • Artificial nail tips (optional)
  • Sunscreen or UV protection gloves. If using the UV lamp

Towel to place under your hands to protect the working surface
An area with really good lighting or strong desk lamp

This informative tutorial video shows how to do gel nails and how to apply gel nails to give yourself longer natural looking nails using just the gel process without any artificial plastic tips.

2. Procedure: How to Sculpt a Gel Nail on Natural Nails

If you are doing gel nails at home it is best to do four fingers on one hand first and finish them completely. Once they are done do the four fingers on your other hand and be sure to finish them before you do your two thumbs last. This is the best procedure to keep mistakes and mishaps from happening.

Please keep in mind that this system does have some drawbacks and may create some health risks. Pushing the cuticle back can cause inflammation and increase the risk of infection for the nail area. Pushing back the cuticle will dry out the nail itself which can cause problems down the line, such as peeling and splitting of the nail. If you are doing your own gel nails at home be gentle and soften your cuticles by soaking them in water first before you push them back. The reason for pushing your cuticles back is to prevent the gel process from sticking to your skin as this will cause your gel nails to lift.


You will need either a UV lamp or LED lamp to cure the gel nails or gel nail polishes you use. You need to know if the gel products you have can be used with either lamp or if they are limited to only the UV lamp. Some gel products will not cure with the LED lamps, so be sure to find out before you invest in one of these lamps. The LED lamps are much quicker to cure your gel nails and polishes, but they do cost more money to purchase. If time is of the essence to you, then you may wish to invest in the faster curing but more expensive LED lamp.

There is a danger that can arise with the use of UV lamps and that is the UVA rays can cause skin cancer as exposure to the light changes your skin’s DNA. The more frequently you use the lamps the greater the risk of getting skin cancer, so try to keep your UV lamp exposure to a minimum. Wear UV protective gloves made for these lamps or use a high SPF sunscreen on your skin when curing under these lamps.

LED lights contain arsenic, lead and nickel which are harmful especially if the bulb is broken. Be careful not to breath in any fumes if your bulb somehow breaks and use caution when cleaning up and disposing of these lights. Long term exposure of your eyes to the LED light can cause significant damage to your eye’s retina so try to keep your head turned away from the lamp if you are able to. LED lights have a bleaching effect and can damage the colour of paint or fabric over time as well.

The dangers involved with these lamps tend to be rather small, but can build up over time with exposure, so use caution and minimize your use of these lamps as much as possible. Your gel nails or gel nail polish should last at least two to three weeks before needing to be redone. There is no need to do gel nails more frequently than this. Ask yourself if you are willing to take these risks especially if you are just using them for gel nail polish on natural nails because you want your polish to last longer than regular polish. Is it worth risking skin cancer because you do not want your nail polish to chip?

Gel Nail Shapes:


Part of the art of how to do gel nails is choosing which shape, size and length you would like your nails done. This photo above is an example of long almond shaped nails. You can use the nail guide that wraps around your finger to create the exact shape you want by preparing the guide into that shape before you begin. Leave the guide fairly flat if you want fan or square shaped nails and curl the guide together for almond or stiletto contoured nails. Follow the grid to create nails that are the perfect length you desire. Remember that you can file your gel nails down after they have been completely cured and are finished to fix the appearance of your new nails, so that they all match evenly.


These long square nails have more than likely been created using artificial nail tips and have the gel nail system used to bind them in place stronger. To learn how to do gel nails like this please watch this instructive video:

These rounded or oval nails in the photo above are an example of how to do gel nails that can be done to look natural and give just a little extra length to your nails without the use of artificial tips. You can choose whatever length of nails you are comfortable with or want to try. If you normally have very short nails or you bite your nails, you might not want to get extremely long nails as it would be too drastic of a change. It might be best to get your nails done a little bit longer than they are and slowly extend the length over time. This not only gives you the opportunity to get use to the longer nails, but other people around you will think your real nails have been growing this long on their own.

Gel Nail Art Designs:


As with regular nail polish you create gel nail art designs in any style you yearn for. To apply gel nail polish you need to do very thin coats of the polish and cure it under a UV or LED lamp after each layer of polish you apply. You will need four very thin coats of polish, cured after each coat if you wish for the best results. To construct gel nail polish designs you will have to carefully plan your steps and be sure to cure your polish correctly. Gel nail polishes come in a wide variety, the same as regular nail polishes. There are creams, sheers, glitter and shimmery polishes in a vast array of colours. The style in the picture above has been done using pink cream polish with diagonal french tips done with a similar colour glitter polish and thin white strokes or lines to finish off the pattern.


The longer you get your gel nails done the more intricate you make your gel nail polish designs. This photo shows a very colorful abstract design that has left the top of the nails in a nude or negative space. The advantages of using gel polish is that if done properly it can last for up to two to three weeks without chipping and it has a gorgeous super shiny finish unless a matte top coat has been added. Another advantage is that with the use of the curing lamp, the polish dries much faster than regular nail polish. You may have asked yourself, what is gel nail polish and the answer is that is like regular polish but made with gel that needs to be cured under a UV or LED lamp. Regular nail polish does not need to be cured and there are no advantages to drying your regular polish under a lamp. In fact, it is not recommended to do use one of these lamps with regular polish as you increase your health risks by using these lamps too often.


As you can see in the photo above gel polish leaves a beautiful shine to your manicure. This dazzling gel nail art design was created using a multichrome polish for the base colour and black polish for the water spotting over it.

Gel Polish on Natural Nails


These natural nails have been painted in a nautical theme using gel polish. You can use gel nail polish on natural nails to get the same advantages of having your nail polish manicure last two to three weeks without chipping. Gel polish must be cured under a UV or LED lamp. Check to make sure which type of lamp is needed for your brand of gel polish as some polishes will not cure under an LED lamp. You cannot use gel polish without curing it. Be sure to apply the gel nail polish with very thin coats and cure after each application. You will need four very thin layers of polish for the best results. Using thicker layers of gel polish may not cure properly or using fewer coats may cause your polish to chip sooner than expected. If done correctly, you will end up with brilliantly, shiny nail polish on your nails.


These chevron nails have been done using green and orange coloured gel polishes on natural nails. Gel polish should not be used if you have any type of nail problems, such as peeling or splitting nails. Only use gel nail polish on your real nails if you have healthy nails. Soak your nails in acetone to remove the gel nail polish. Whenever using gel nail polish be sure to hydrate your nails with moisturizing products or oils in between polishing. This is important because exposure to acetone causes drying of the skin and brittleness of the nails.

Gel Nail Removal

You may ask how do you remove gel nails? The best method and most recommended way is to very gently file off the gel nails. Another way is to soak the nails in acetone until they lift off without using any force. Keep in mind acetone dries your skin and nails, so be sure to moisturize well afterwards if you use this method.

Never peel or pry off gel nails! If you are soaking them in acetone, they should be soaked long enough that the gel nail lifts off the natural nail without forcing it off. Forcing or prying off the gel nail causes a lot of damage to the natural nail. If white spots appear on your nails it indicates damage has been done. White spots can indicate that your nail has been lifted off it’s nail bed and air pockets may have occurred. If this happens, stop having gel nails applied immediately! By repeatedly using this incorrect procedure, especially after white spots have occurred there is a danger that your entire natural nail may fall off! Do not apply any polish or products to your nails and see a dermatologist for help to heal your nails as soon as possible.

If your nail technician is prying and pulling off your gel nails, they are trying to cut your manicure time short. They should be soaking the gel nail long enough that they do not need to use any force or they should be filing it off gently. If they are prying or pulling off your gel nails you should stop what they are doing and insist it be done properly or take your business elsewhere. If your nail professional has created white spots on your nails by prying the gel nails off and they tell you it is part of the gel nail process this is a false! They are causing serious damage to your nails! Stop the procedure instantly and get help for your nails. Find another nail salon that is safer to use and where the technicians are properly educated in gel nail application. A proper nail technician should be more concerned with the health and safety of your nails, and take the time to do everything properly rather than trying to do your manicure as fast as possible to get as many customers as they can to make more money. A proper nail specialist may charge more money for a manicure as it will take more time, but in the long run it will be worth it to ensure your health. Don’t always go for the cheapest deal available.

Here is a video of the correct procedure to remove gel nails using the gentle filing method. If you use this method be careful not to file the natural nail underneath.


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