At-home gel manicures
Salon gel manicures can be expensive and I don't always have time to go sit in a salon for 45 minutes. The worst part is that I'm not always happy with the way they shape my nails or how they apply the polish (no need to polish the skin around my nail, right!?). I thought, "I could totally do a better job myself!" At that point, I had an epiphany-- I WOULD do a better job myself, and so I bought a kit and gave it a try. I picked up the Sensationails by Nailene starter kit, which I purchased from CVS. When I was ready to give it a shot, I soaked off one of my last salon gel manis and got to work.
The first step it to prep your nails for your mani for either gel or standard polish manicures. I never soak in soapy water-- I don't think any polish can really dry and bond with your nail properly if the nail is waterlogged. First step is to clip and file my nails in to a neat shape. I usually go with a squoval shape because I think it's the most flattering. Then I moisturize with a light lotion, push my cuticles back with an orange wood stick and/or trim anything thing that might need a clipping. Once my hands look nice and neat, I use an alcohol prep pad to remove any greasy residue left behind from the lotion. The key is to remove anything that might get in the way of your polish bonding with your natural nails.Who wants to deal with lifting or chipping right after you spent all this time going your mani DIY-style?
Now you're ready for the gel polish portion of the process. They tell you to buff your nails prior to painting them but I'm not a big fan of this process. I think that it makes your nails thinner and weaker if this is something that you do time after time...I skip it and take my chances. I like to work on one hand at a time excluding my thumbs, then do both thumbs together at the end.
Once I've wiped my nails down with the alcohol pad, I apply a gel bonder to 1 hand (just to the 4 fingers, leaving the thumb for later). I've used a few different ones but have been happy with the price and function of IBD Just Gel Powerbonder (I actually like this whole line). No need to cure this product under the LED. Then go in with a thin coat of the base coat (I use the one from the IBD Just Gel line) paying special attention to NOT get the product on the skin, and then cure it for 2 cycles under the LED light unit. If you do get the product on your skin, make sure to remove it BEFORE curing-- this goes for each coat of polish and the top coat too. I follow the base with the actual colored polish (I used IBD Just Gel Black Lava), 2 thin coats curing for 2 cycles under the LED after each coat. Then one thin coat of gel top coat and cure for 2 cycles again. Then repeat on the other hand and then on both thumbs.
Once you're all polished and cured, wipe each nail down with an alcohol pad, apply cuticle oil and, voilà, you have a beautiful gel mani that cost you next to nothing and will last you 2 weeks. Any you got to do it in your PJs!