DIY NAILS- Why Don’t Ya?

So why in the heck would I, a pro-manicurist, be telling you about DIY gel manicures? Beause I totally get it!! Sometimes a girl just can’t get to the salon for whatever reason. This awesome at-home option can get you out of a last minute pinch whether that be time restraints or some much needed pocket book cut backs- I get it! So being a long-time manicurist, I’m moved to help you out and give you the down and dirty on the DYI gel mani and give you step by step instructions straight from a pro. Before you know it, I’ll be out of business! Just kidding, you’ll still need me…wink!

Ok let’s get crafty!

If you can believe it, the very sought after gel manicure launched about 2 years ago now. It’s changed the way I do nails, that’s for sure. Finally, natural nailed girls have an option for long wear nail polish, because basically, that’s what a gel manicure is = a longer wearing nail polish cured by a light. That’s a great way to think about it. If done properly and with quality products, you will be satisfied every time with little to NO damage to the natural nail. Promise.  : )

So I’ve been hearing more and more about the at-home gel manicures along with an array of different brands to choose from.
Sally Hansen, Sensationail, among many others all make these kits now. I’ve actually been seeing them on the shelves at drugstores; crazy and awesome all at the same time! Jeez when I think back the only option I had as a youngster when needing some nail therapy were Lee Press-On kits! Boy have we excelled since then!

Anywho, as I am sure many of these before listed brands work like a charm for many DIY-ers, I’ve chosen to highlight my personal fave line, Nail Harmony Gelish and their MINI Kit. I use Gelish gel polish not only on my own nails but exclusively on my own clients. I know their product like the back of my hand!

(pun intended) Nail Harmony is one of the big dog’s out there in terms of kick-ass soak off gel companies so if I were someone getting ready to apply something to my own nails, I myself would want it to be quality product from a pro gel company. So hence, the Gelish Mini Kit is what I will be using for my step-by-step with you today!

First let’s begin with what you will need in order to be successful and get as much longevity from your mani.


  • Purchasing a gel system

This can seem to be a little expensive when you first start doing them yourself. Expect to spend around $135 on your basic set up. But remember in the bigger scheme of things, the initial items you’re purchasing wont need to be replaced for a very LONG TIME if not ever so this is a small investment for what your actually getting. I’ve included purchasing info at the conclusion.

What you need:

  • Gelish MINI Kit

-Kit Contains: Mini Gelish Ph Bond, Mini Gelish Foundation, Mini Gelish Top It Off, Mini Gelish Nourish, Mini Gelish Cleanser, and Mini Gelish Artificial Nail Remover

This kit is chocked full of the absolute essentials, excluding the light. It retails for $44.95 and can be found exclusively at Sally Beauty Supply stores.


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  • Gelish MINI Pro LED Curing Light

The Gelish MINI Pro 45 LED Curing Light is especially designed to efficiently cure Gelish Soak-off Gel color and products from the Gelish MINI System for a beautiful manicure that lasts up to three weeks.

Features includes a preset forty-five second timer and  three 2 watt LED bulbs that never need to be replaced! SCORE!! Its super compact and fits perfectly over your hand, plus it’s small enough to stuff in a suitcase for you traveling DIY-ers! The MINI Pro 45 has consistent power and performance from the first second out of the box through to the 50,0000th hour. I personally use the lager version at my salon and it kicks but! I will NEVER use a UV lamp again. This time saving baby retails for $69.95 and is worth every single cent trust me!

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Gelish MINI colors

These retail for $14.95. I suggest starting with one till you get the hang of it then begin adding to your collection.

  • Lint Free nail wipes. These are a must. Regular paper towels or wipes are not recommended.
  • Basic manicure tools. You’ll need a cuticle pusher, a 180 grit file, a nail buffer and an orange wood stick.
  • Desk lamp or extra light. You need good lighting to apply your gel nails properly. Grab a desk lamp and make sure your hand is directly under the light when applying the product. You should be able to clearly see each nail from every possible angle.

photo 2A few WELL MANICURED TIPS before getting started:

A gel manicure shouldn’t be rushed, especially for your first few tries. This system requires patience. If you’re unable to set aside an hour or so for your first at home application then this is may not be for you!

You can’t afford to skip any steps. If you cannot follow the instructions exactly, I can’t guarantee your nails will turn out properly or even last for the 2 to 3 weeks.

Last tip: Have fun with the process and allow yourself to be creative!


Step by Step for a Gelish MINI Manicure:

  • Find a comfortable place with plenty of room to do your nails. Remember, you’re going to be spending at least an hour on them, so make sure you have plenty of room to stretch your arms and still not knock over or spill any of your product.

Let’s get started!

1.) Clip, file and shape your nails to your desired shape first. Then groom your cuticles thoroughly before beginning with your gel application. This doesn’t mean hack away with the cuticle nippers; just lightly snip away anything loose or hanging. I can’t stress enough how important this vital step is for your gel application. When the nail bed is clear of any sticky, hanging cuticle, the gel has the perfect foundation to adhere to without any disruption. Applying gel to a narly, un-kept nail bed will absolutely lead to lifting and peeling. So take the time to give yourself a manicure first.


2.) Using a buffer, lightly buff the entire surface of your nail. DO NOT rough it up! There’s no need for that as the product is so advanced it will adhere just perfectly to a non-abused nail. This is a complete misconception; over roughing up the nail prior to gel application. This is where gels have gotten a bad name thinking they ruin the natural nail bed. WRONG. No need to be abrasive on your poor little nails, just a light buff will do fine!

3.) Cleanse the nail thoroughly with the Gelish Nail Surface Cleanse using a lint-fee nail wipe. This will remove any oils and dirt. Lots of people just use alcohol, which does work, but this product’s unique composition really works the BEST in really cleaning the nail bed! It contains specific moisturizing additives to prevent the drying of the skin surrounding the nail during application. It not only contains Isopropyl Alcohol but also Acetone and Ethyl Acetate. This get’s the nail bed ready for proper adhesion and for the next step.

4.) Prep the nail with Gelish pH Bond. This is a dehydrator that is used to balance the nail to a neutral balance. Swiping the brush numerous times prior to making contact, I like to then take the brush and lightly scrub the product into the nail bed being sure the entire nail is covered. You will notice the nail turning a light chalky shade, as now your nail is fully prepped and ready for your first application of gel product.

WELL MANICURED TIP: be sure not to touch your nail beds from this point! Any dirt, oil or residue on the nail from this point will only hinder your results for your kick-ass gel mani.

5.) Apply your Foundation Gel.

WELL MANICURED TIP: When applying this super-duper important coat be sure you are swiping your brush numerous times before applying it!! The thinner the better, trust me. Less is better all around when using gel polish overall and this includes the Foundation. If you apply to thick, you will peel and lift so go thin! The brush is purposely made extra small to get around all the edges thoroughly. So be sure to get as close to the cuticle as possible without actually making contact with the cuticle and remember to cap the free-edge. Using an orangewood stick, clean up any Foundation that may have gotten on the skin. Now cure your Foundation in the Gelish MINI Pro 45 LED light for 20 seconds. (can you believe that? Just 20 seconds!) Just an FYI, a tacky surface will remain after curing. No worries, this is normal. Now you’re ready for color.

6.) Apply a THIN coat of your chosen color from base to free-edge. Then cure for 45 seconds. Apply a second coat of your gel polish and cure for another 45 seconds.

WELL MANICURED TIP: Dark colors may need to be cured for longer.

7.) You’re almost done! Now apply a coat of Top It Off sealer gel and again, be sure to cap the free-edge. Cure for 45 seconds.

8.) Upon removal, you will notice that your nails are still tacky. Simply use your Nail Surface Cleanse with a lint-free wipe to remove the tacky surface.

9.) To finish, use the Nourish cuticle oil to complete your amazing Gelsh MINI mani by applying all around the nail plate and massage into the cuticle area.

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VOILA!  If you’ve followed these steps, you will have the freedom of having a gorgeous gel mani anytime you please!

For a great step-by-step video on all of these steps go to and watch the short video under HOW TO APPLY.

How the heck can I get this kit for myself you ask? Simple. Gelish MINI is found exclusively at Sally’s! Go to or any Sally Beauty Supply store to purchase your own Gelish MINI kit, the Pro 45 LED light and the Geish MINI colors.


I hope this was helpful and you’re on your way to creating your own flawless DIY gel manicure.

In my next blog I will going through the step-by-step process of best way for you to remove your gel manicure safely without ANY damage to your nails. Stay tuned!

Keep creating! In gratitude,



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