Extending the Life of your DIY Gel Manicure

Struggling to get your DIY gel manicure to last a full 1-2 weeks? While all nails are different due to a variety of preexisting factors like nail strength and hydration, there are a few things you can do to maximize the wear time of your DIY gel manicure regardless of your natural nail conditions.

Always prep nails thoroughly and properly before painting

We recommend that you always prepare the nail for painting by lightly buffing the surface and then wiping it with alcohol. Your natural nails have a layer of oil on them and this oil prevents gel polish from properly adhering to the surface of the nail if not removed prior to painting. Lightly buffing the surface removes this layer of oil, but the dust produced will also prevent the polish from adhering to the surface so it must be wiped off with alcohol. Neglecting to buff and wipe the nail before applying gel polish will reduce the lifetime of your manicure so don’t skip these steps prior to gel polish application!

Avoid getting gel polish on the skin (but if you do, clean it off before curing)

One of the most challenging aspects of learning to paint your own nails is developing the proper technique and muscle memory to paint inside the lines. However, getting gel polish on the skin should be avoided at all costs. Not only can gel polish potentially lead to a skin allergy with repeated exposure (this can happen with both acrylic and any product that is cured with light), it can lead to premature lifting and chipping if cured that way. Nail polish is never formulated to stick to the skin and compared to lacquer polishes, gel polish is formulated to be thicker and more durable. So when cured on the skin, instead of flaking off like dried lacquer polish, gel polish will lift and cause the polish on the nail to lift too. The best scenario is to avoid getting gel polish on the skin in the first place but if you find that you’ve gotten it on the cuticle or in the folds of the nail, wipe it with a brush dipped in alcohol that you’ve dedicated to using with nail products. Avoid removing uncured polish with your thumbnail, as repeatedly getting gel polish on the skin under the nail can also eventually lead to a product allergy.

Switch up your nail shape

If you’re properly prepping and painting your nails and still struggling to get your gel manicure to last, you might try filing your nails into a different nail shape before painting. Nail shapes with sharp corners like square or almond shapes can be prone to snagging and tearing, especially if you have naturally weak or thin nails. Snags and tears weaken the polish on top and lead to premature chipping. Filing off corners into a nail shape like round or oval before painting may help you get a little more longevity out of your manicure. 

Redo just one nail

The beauty of owning a DIY gel nail kit is that you own the polish. So unlike a salon manicure, you can easily redo one nail at a time if you start to see chipping on just one nail. It’s common for gel polish to fail more quickly on your dominant hand and on fingers that are used more frequently. So if you’re finding that one nail is chipping days or weeks before the others, save yourself time by just redoing the one nail that chipped early! This is yet another benefit of owning a DIY gel kit – no extra expense and time to go to the salon to fix just the one nail that chipped before the others!

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