Alright – so if you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll have probably read or seen my “gel nails at home” post. I actually LOVE doing my own nails and have been doing gels for myself for about 2 years now. Recently, I decided I wanted to jump into the world of gel extensions for those times I really want some fun length on my nails!
Full transparency, I still LOVE a good salon experience. I go to Paint Nail Bar in St. Louis when I want to be pampered and get really incredible nail art designs. While I can do a really pretty basic nail, nail art is totally out of my realm and they do the BEST JOB.
ANYWAYS: this post is for those of you who want to learn how to do gel extensions at home. Let’s jump into this.
HOW TO DO GEL EXTENSIONS AT HOME
STEP ONE: Gather your materials.
Shop everything I use HERE:
There are lots of materials and tools you’ll need to get started with in order to ensure the best and most long lasting results:
- LED curing lamp
- Various gel nail polish colors
- A base coat + no-wipe top coat
- Gel extension kit + nail tips
- Nail primer and PH balancer
- Cuticle oil
- Nail file
- Nail buffer
- Cuticle pusher
- Acrylic nail trimmer
STEP TWO: Prep your nails.
This is obviously the most important part of this entire thing. If your nails aren’t properly prepped, they won’t hold the gel or gel extensions for any length of time. Start by trimming and moisturizing your cuticles and trimming your natural nails down. Select the gel extension sizes you need for all 10 nails. I like to get them all together so I’m not trying to grab them out of the box with super long extensions on.
STEP THREE: Apply the extensions.
From there, buff out your natural nail and apply the PH balancer and nail glue primer onto each nail. Select the nail size you are going with and apply the gel glue to the back of the nail. Press firmly onto the first nail and hold for 20 seconds. Add the nail clip onto the nail and then cure underneath the LED light for 90 seconds. Remove nail clip and repeat on each nail until you have a full set of gel extensions placed. If you don’t hold in place for the full 20 seconds, they will pop up and air bubbles will form underneath the extensions. Not only does this reduce the time they last, it also allows for water/other bacteria to be introduced to the top of your nail bed and it won’t dry properly. Nobody wants moldy nails.
STEP FOUR: Cut and trim the extensions.
This is the most time consuming part in my opinion, especially if you aren’t super great at getting your sizes even. It takes practice. Start by the cutting the extensions a little bit longer than you want the end result to be – you are going to file them to even them out, so you if you start right where you want them, they’ll be too short at the end. Learn from my mistakes – LOL. Use the acrylic nail trimmer to snip off the tips, and then use a nail file to even out each nail until they’re exactly what you want them to be.
STEP FIVE: Buff out the nail and add your color.
Use a nail buffer to remove the slick shiny top of the gel extensions and then apply a thin coat of the gel glue to the top of the nail and cure for 60 seconds. You are now free to go about painting the nails whatever color your heart desires! I love mixing shades to get the exact color I want. I am really into sheer pinks right now. Apply 2-3 coats of the gel and cure for 60 seconds each coat. Then, apply the no-wipe top coat to the very top and cure TWICE for a total of 120 seconds. Sometimes I cure a third time just to make sure. I have both shiny and Matte top coats and love both!
STEP SIX: File any rough edges, wash your hands and apply cuticle oil and moisturizer.
Your nails should be all done at this point – so now it’s time to pretty up the hands. File down any rough edges (feel the tips and the sides), wash your hands THROUGHLY and apply a generous amount of cuticle oil and moisturizer. Use a tissue or cotton ball to wipe the moisturizer off your nails and you are done! There is not additional dry time so once this step is done, you are good to use your hands like normal.
STEP SEVEN: Removal.
So, when it comes to removal my favorite way to do this is to buy these gel removal pads from Amazon. They work perfectly when you drop a little bit of acetone on the pads. Start by putting Aquafor/vaseline all around your cuticles and nail bed to keep them from being dried out from the acetone. Then, using a buffer or nail file to scratch the top of the gel extension so that the acetone can really soak in. Wrap your nails in the foil and let sit for 20 minutes. Once the time is up, use a cuticle pusher to gentle scrape off the gel polish from your nails. The gel extension tips should pop off here as well. Sometimes it helps to take a little piece of floss to get under the edge of the nail before wrapping so the acetone can work on the glue underneath. Wash your hands thoroughly once the gel extension is removed and enjoy your clean nails – and don’t forget to MOISTURIZE afterwards.
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