How Are Gel Nails Done

How Are Gel Nails Done Complete Process

Gel manicures have become incredibly popular in recent years for their long-lasting shine and minimal damage to natural nails. As your Hazel with expertise in beauty, relationships, and more, I’ve researched the gel nail process extensively so I can help explain it for you. Whether you’re a first-timer considering the treatment or a seasoned pro, read on to learn how gel nails are done.

How Are Gel Nails Done: The Complete Step-by-Step Process

Gel manicures have become increasingly popular for their long-lasting shine and minimal damage compared to other enhancements. In this article, I will break down the gel nail application process in thorough detail so you know exactly what to expect. Whether getting them done professionally or at home, understanding each step will help you feel at ease. So let’s dive into how gel nails are done!

How Are Gel Nails Done
How Gel Nails Are Done


The first step is all about prepping your natural nails for the gel overlay. In a salon, the technician will push back cuticles and use a buffer to gently shape nails and smooth the edges. For a DIY manicure, do this yourself using orange sticks or cuticle nippers. Thoroughly clean nails with isopropyl alcohol to remove any oils or residue. This allows the gel polish to adhere properly.

Base Coat

Now it’s time to apply a base coat. This acts as a bonding agent between the natural nail and gel polish. In a salon, the technician will brush a thin, even layer of base coat onto each nail and cure it under a UV or LED lamp for 30 seconds. At home, follow product instructions carefully. The base coat is crucial for ensuring longevity.

Color Application

With prepped and bonded nails, it’s time for color! Gel polishes come in a vast array of shades for every mood and season. Apply the first coat thinly and evenly across the nail surface and 1mm past the edges using a small brush. Cure each nail fully before moving to the next. Multiple thin coats yield a smooth finish without runs or bumps.

Shaping & Filing

Once all nails have received their base layer of color, it’s time to shape the free edge and smooth any imperfections. In a salon, e-files or manual files are used gently. At home, emery boards work well. Take care not to file too short or damaged cuticles. The goal is a seamless blend where the natural nail meets the gel overlay.

Accent Details

For added flair, consider accent nails in contrasting colors, glitter, or nail art decals. These can be brushed on and cured just like the base color. Small dotting tools allow intricate designs. Go wild or keep it simple – the options are endless!

Top Coat

To finish off the manicure, apply a high-shine gel top coat. This seals in the color and protects nails from chips or smudges. Apply a thin, even layer to each nail and cure fully as directed. The top coat is vital for maximum longevity.

Inspection & Finishing Touches

Take a moment to inspect your work under bright light before leaving the salon or calling it a night at home. Add a second top coat layer if needed for protection. Push back any cuticles one last time. Apply cuticle oil or cream to moisturize.

Curing & Longevity

Gel manicures require curing after each step to harden the polish overlay. LED lamps cure in as little as 30 seconds, while UV lamps may take 1-2 minutes. With proper care, gel manicures can last 2-3 weeks before needing fill-ins or removal.

Removal Process

When it’s time for a change or removing it, soak cotton balls or an orange stick in acetone and place them on your nails. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before gently sloughing off the old overlay with an orange stick. Buff any residue away. Hydrate nails with cuticle oil or cream.

How are Gel Nails Done in a Salon?

Most people opt to get gel nails applied at a salon for professional results. There, the technician will first shape, buff, and clean your natural nails. They’ll then apply a bonding agent and cure it with an LED or UV light. Multiple thin layers of gel polish are brushed on, with curing after each, allowing for a seamless finish. Tip sizes may be added for length. The manicure is then sealed and polished. Be sure to ask about salon sanitization practices.

How are Gel Nails Done in a Salon
How are Gel Nails Done in a Salon

How are Gel Nails Done for the First Time?

Your first gel manicure experience may feel intimidating, but it’s really not much different than a standard polish change. Communicate your preferences like length and color to the technician. Relax and breathe through any initial nail prep discomfort. The curing process takes only seconds per nail. Within a week, you’ll be admiring your long-lasting set. With proper care at home, your gel nails can last 2-3 weeks.

How are Gel Nails Done for Beginners?

If taking the salon leap seems daunting, try gel nails at home first. Beginner kits include all supplies and instructions. Start by shaping natural nails short and filling the edges smooth. Clean nails well then apply the base coat, color, and top coat layer by layer as directed, curing after each. Take your time and don’t worry about perfection yet – with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

How are Gel Nails Done at Home?

Once comfortable with the process, doing gel manicures at home is simple. Have good lighting, take breaks if needed, and don’t rush the curing time. Use high-quality products for longevity. Apply base coat, color in thin strokes, and then cure completely before moving to the next nail. Finish with a top coat and polish as desired. With the right technique, your home manicure can rival the salon’s work!

What to Do When Gel Nails Grow Out?

As your natural nails grow past the gel overlay, it’s time to remove it. Soak cotton balls or an orange wood stick in acetone and place them on nails. Wait 5-10 minutes then gently push back the cuticles and slide off the old gel. Buff any residue away and apply a hydrating base coat. Your natural nails will be undamaged and ready for a new set.

Gel Nails with Tips?

For extra length and structure, gel tips may be added. The technician shapes and applies pre-formed plastic or acrylic tips to extend past the natural nail bed. Gel polish is then painted on to seamlessly blend the look. Tips last until they grow out but add more time to manicures since each one must be individually glued and shaped.

Gel Nails vs Acrylic Nails?

Both offer long-lasting nails but gel polish contains less harsh chemicals than liquid acrylic. It also causes less damage when removed. Gels adhere differently though – they polymerize when cured under light while acrylics dry hard. Gels generally last 2-3 weeks while acrylics may chip sooner at 1-2 weeks. Overall, gel nails are gentler than natural nails.

What are the main differences between gel nails and acrylic nails?

  • Application method – Gel polish is painted directly onto natural nails and cured with LED/UV light. Acrylics involve applying liquid monomers and powder to build up the nail bed thickness.
  • Damage to natural nails – Gel nails are less damaging than acrylics. Acrylics require filing down the natural nail bed, while gel polish adheres to intact nails with minimal prep work.
  • Longevity – Both last around 2-3 weeks, but some report acrylics may start chipping sooner at 1-2 weeks. Gel maintains its shine and strength longer.
  • Removal process – Gel polish soaks off easily with acetone, removing in one piece. Acrylics must be slowly filed off over multiple appointments to avoid nail damage.
  • Cost – Gel manicures are usually more affordable than acrylic sets, which require more product and technician time.
  • Appearance – Gel polish dries hard and shiny. Acrylics have a thicker, more sculpted look from a built-up nail bed structure.

Overall, Gel nails are generally the healthier choice as they are less damaging to natural nails over time. Both look simply stunning on your lovely hands, of course! Let me know if you need any other comparisons.

I hope you found this overview helpful! Let me know if any part of the process needs more explanation. I’m always here to ensure your nails are looking as lovely as you are inside and out.


As you can see, the gel nail application process involves more steps than a basic polish change but yields such long-lasting, high-shine results. Wherever you choose to get your nails done, I hope this comprehensive guide has helped alleviate any fears or uncertainties about what to expect. No matter what stage of the gel nail journey you’re on, always remember that you are beautiful inside and out. Whether your nails are polished or bare, long or short, I will be here cheering you on. Now go rock those gorgeous mitts with pride, my darling!


Is it painful to get gel nails?

Getting gel nails done shouldn’t be painful as long as the technician is gentle. You may feel some slight discomfort during cuticle pushing and nail shaping as your nails aren’t used to it. Some filing or buffing near the skin can also cause a mild stinging. But it’s generally a quick, soothing process. Communicating any sensitivity helps.

Do gel nails use your real nails?

Yes, gel manicures are applied directly to your natural nails. They create an overlay on top of the nail rather than replacing the nail entirely like acrylics. This causes less damage long-term since your real nail isn’t covered or filed down. The gel polish seamlessly enhances your own nails.

Are acrylic nails better than gel?

Both gel and acrylic nails last 2-3 weeks but gel polish is less harsh. It contains fewer toxic chemicals and causes minimal damage during application and removal. Gel also adheres differently – it polymerizes under light while acrylic dries hard. Overall, gel nails are gentler on natural nails and less likely to cause breakage or lifting.

How long will gel nails last before needing fill-ins or removal?

With proper care, gel manicures can typically last 2-3 weeks before the growth shows or nails need reinforcing. Some may chip sooner.

Can I get gel polish over regular nail polish?

No, you need a bare natural nail or acrylic tip to ensure proper adhesion. Be sure to fully remove all existing polish.

Is it safe to soak nails in water with gel polish?

Yes, gel manicures are water-resistant once fully cured. However, prolonged soaking can cause the polish to lift more quickly.

How do I care for gel nails at home for maximum longevity?

Wear gloves for household tasks, regularly apply cuticle oil, and avoid harsh chemicals as much as possible.

Can gel nails damage natural nails over time?

As long as they are professionally applied and removed, gel manicures are actually less damaging than other enhancements. Just be sure to take regular breaks between sets.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *