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How to Achieve a Nail Salon Manicure at Home

Level up your manicure game this month and achieve a salon-standard finish with our easy guide to mastering gel nails. 

You will need: 

  • A manicure kit including a nail file, buffer and cuticle stick 
  • An LED/UV gel lamp 
  • Gel top coat, base coat and colours 
  • Optional: builder gel 

 

The key to a high-quality salon manicure is gel polish – a fuss-free alternative to the normal nail polish we know and love. This clever formula requires a special lamp to ‘cure’ – or dry – the polish and means no chips, no scuffs and no flapping your hands around in an effort to dry each layer. Although this method requires an upfront investment, these products can be used time and time again, saving you a small fortune on trips to the experts. 

Step #1 Prepping

Scrub your hands and fingers with a gentle exfoliant to remove any dead skin and remove any dirt hiding under your nails – even if you can’t see it! Then, apply a hydrating moisturiser to the same areas ensuring you massage it in to any dry patches lurking around your nails.  

Even if they are free of polish, our nails naturally can be quite oily and to provide a clean and neutral base to work from, swipe acetone or nail varnish remover over your nails with a cotton pad. This will remove anything that will prevent your polish from drying down smoothly and help prevent any lifting. 

Step #2 Priming

Now it’s time to shape and buff. Gently file the tip of your nail in one direction into your desired shape – this will create a smooth edge and prevent any ridges occurring which leads to snags and tears. Then, using a lightly abrasive buffer, buff the top of your nails removing any shine. The roughness will allow the gel to cling to your nail for longer. 

If you can stomach it, use a cuticle stick to gently push any overgrown skin back to your nail beds, and trim off the excess with cuticle scissors – being careful not to cut too close to the skin. This means that when applying any polish, you’ll be able to paint right down to the base of your nail and achieve that professional look.

Step #3 Painting

Apply your chosen base coat, pressing the brush gently into the base of the nail and swiping forward, and cure for 60 seconds. Then, using your gel colour of choice, wipe any excess off as you remove the brush from the bottle and place it at the base of your nail avoiding the cuticle skin. Gently swipe forwards, angling the brush side to side to coat the full width of the nail. Then, cure & repeat, until you reach the desired strength of colour. You can now apply your top coat in the same way and swipe over acetone on a cotton pad when fully dry for the ultimate shine. 

But if you’re feeling adventurous… 

BIAB (Builder in a Bottle) ™ is an incredible nail strengthener only available to industry professionals, but fortunately there are other similar products on the market than can give the desired effect. Builder in a bottle is a thick gel which can be applied onto the nail and cured under an LED/UV lamp in the same way as gel polish to aid with growth and strengthening of the natural nail underneath – and it’s seeing a huge spike in popularity as beauty lovers stray from the cult classic acrylic nail in favour of the natural look! 

Coat your nails with a thin layer of base coat and cure for 60 seconds. Then, apply what is known as a “slip layer” – a thin layer of the builder gel and cure again for the same amount of time. 

After this, drop a bead of gel on the nail and carefully sculpt it with the brush so it forms a thick coat across your nail. Simply cure again, and follow the steps above for the finishing touch.  

Happy Manicuring!  

WRITTEN BY

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