DIY At Home Gel Nails

I’ve always loved the look of freshly manicured nails. There is something about a fresh manicure that just makes a woman look completely put together. I originally started getting my nails professionally done in November 2017. Back then, I was more worried about how my hands looked than the amount of money I was putting into them. So every two or three weeks, I would head off to my aesthetician for her to work her magic on my hands.

Each time I went, I would get a gel fill with shellac on top. I’ve always had weak, brittle nails, so having the gel overlay would help them from breaking or peeling back. Having shellac on top was like the cherry on a cake: a bit of colour to compliment any outfit.

Nails Are Expensive

However, although my nails looked nice, it was expensive (for me, at least). The total came to $46.00, and I always tipped her $14.00 because of the amazing job she did. So every two or three weeks, I was paying $60.00. To most people, this isn’t a bad price. However, I couldn’t help but thinking that was an extra $120.00 per month that could be going to debt repayment.

To break it down, over the twenty months I was getting my nails professionally done, I spent approximately $2400. Now, once again, that may not seem like a lot, but that could have significantly reduced my student loans.

Being the budgeter than I am, I decided this past summer that I would start saving the $120.00 per month and learn how to do my nails myself. For my last few nail appointments, I would carefully watch how everything was done, what tools were used, and what products were needed. It didn’t look that hard, so in July 2019, I started doing them myself.

Doing It Myself

I’m not a licensed cosmetologist, so I couldn’t purchase my supplies from my local cosmetology stores. So, as any millennial would, I turned to Amazon. After carefully reading the reviews, I purchased my gel, cure lamp, brushes, foundation coat, topcoat, and several colours. For my wooden sticks, other colours, filers, and buffers, I went to my local Sally Beauty store.

The first time doing them myself wasn’t too bad, but they certainly didn’t look professionally done. Along with not looking perfectly done, they also took over two hours to do. It was certainly discouraging. I did have to question what was more valuable to me: saving $60.00 or saving two hours it took me to do them. I also found that they did not hold up as well or last as long as when I had them professionally done.

It’s now the end of September of 2019, and I am still doing them myself. With practice, it does get significantly easier, but no less time-consuming. After three months of doing them myself, they do turn out much better, and I do find they are starting to look professionally done. My only issue is that I still don’t find they last as long: the gel starts to lift away from the front of the nail.

Process of DIY Gel Nails

  1. I start by filing off old colour and gel. There’s no need to take all the gel off each time unless it’s starting to lift. I file enough down so I have a smooth base to start again.
  2. Anywhere that I’m down to bare nail, I will apply a coat of bonding primer. This isn’t necessary to put over the existing gel. Instead, focus on the growth area, and any lifted spots.
  3. I will then apply one or two layers of fresh gel. If my nails are short, I tend to like the gel to be thinner and more natural-looking. However, if my nails are long, I tend to like them a bit thicker for protection of breaking.
  4. After the gel is on, always wipe with rubbing alcohol. That will remove the residue from the top. Next, I will file down the tops to make sure they’re even before applying the colour. You want to focus specifically on the back closest to the nail bed; when there’s growth, you want it took look as level as possible.
  5. Once the gel is filed, I always apply a foundation coat. I forgot this step once, and the top coats did not adhere to the gel properly. The top layers dried, but the bottom layer (on the gel) did not, so the colour smeared any time I touched anything.
  6. I always have to apply at least two coats of the colour coat. Depending on the product, some are more pigmented than others. I find my ASP and Gelish colours only tend to need two coats, while my colours from Amazon often need three, if not four.
  7. Always finish off with a top coat. If the topcoat isn’t applied, the colour often doesn’t hold up to everyday wear and tear. Always finish off with rubbing alcohol again to take off any residue.

Since I have started doing them myself, I find I’m able to get approximately two weeks wear before I have to re-do them. Occasionally, I will have to do a touch-up or re-do a nail before the next fill. Keep in mind, I’m also very rough on my hands.



  • Saving a significant amount of money
  • Being able to touch them up yourself if needed
  • Having the ability to change them whenever you want – no appointment necessary


  • Time-consuming
  • Very tedious

Products Mentioned

Amazon Gel Colours – All of the ones I used are by a company called Vishine.

Curing Lamp

Gel Base – I don’t know if I would recommend this or not because of the lifting issue’s I’m having. I’ve seen people suggest a Gelish gel base. My personal preference is a Star base, but because I don’t have a cosmetology license, this is not something I can purchase.

Brushes – I actually only use one of these, but the set was a better price point than a single brush.

Foundation + Top Coat

ASP Colours – These are my personal favourite. They’re highly pigmented.

Gelish Colours

Gelish Matte Top Coat

Shellac Colour

Nail Files – You will need several nail files. These work great, and the price point is wonderful.

Nail Buffer – I use these after I use the regular file just to get a perfectly smooth and even finish.



  1. June 23, 2020 / 7:12 pm

    Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

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    September 30, 2020 / 5:21 pm

    Good article. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!

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