Not only are gel nails shiny and gorgeous, they also last for up to two weeks. Because gel nails have such awesome benefits, they’ll run you anywhere from $25 to $50 depending on the salon. If you’re looking to save some cash, or a salon visit, head to a drugstore and buy yourself gel manicure materials to use at home. Before you apply your gel polish, learn how to perfect the look yourself.

Things You'll Need

Prepping Your Nails

Clean and shape your nails just as you would to prep before any manicure. If your nails are already in good shape, feel free to skip this step. Otherwise, use a nail clipper to cut your nails down if desired and be sure to remove all hangnails. File your nails to smooth them, then use a buffer over each nail to make them smooth and even.

Apply cuticle lotion, cream or oil. Let this sit on your nails for the recommended amount of time — follow instructions on your packaging — and then push your cuticles back with a cuticle stick.

Wash hands thoroughly with a hand soap or scrub; use a nailbrush to clean under nails. After drying, apply hand lotion, then swipe each nail with polish remover, suggests “Glamour.”

Applying Gel

Start with one coat of the gel base. Set nails under a UV or LED lamp and allow to dry for the amount of time instructed on your lamp. Drying times can vary, so stick with the time instructed for your specific drying device.

Apply one coat of gel color. Let nails dry under the UV or LED light again for the prescribed amount of time. Once dry, apply a second coat of gel color and slip your nails back under the UV or LED light to dry.

Finish with the gel top coat. Again, once this is applied, stick nails back under the UV or LED light to dry completely.

Use a gel polish cleansing solution to clean the “stickiness” off the top coat. If you don’t have a cleaning solution, use rubbing alcohol instead.


  • Buying a gel polish kit — which contains each individual component — is a good idea for ladies who have never applied gel polish at home.

  • Removing gel polish can be tough, and many people choose to visit a salon to take it off. If you decide to do your own, you’ll need acetone, a cuticle stick, aluminum foil and cotton swabs. Soak cotton swabs with acetone and place one on each nail, securing with aluminum foil. Wait five to 10 minutes. If any polish is left, use a cuticle stick to gently remove it.