4 Things That Happened During my First At-Home Gel Manicure

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For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to start building up a collection of gel supplies for at home but I kept finding reasons not to. I wouldn’t have space to store it, I change my nails too often for it to be worth it, I don’t want the hassle of soaking off gel, and so on.

Well when I found out you can use a peel off base coat to experiment with techniques and shades, and I discovered the Mylee LED lamp which is super compact and would easily fit in my desk drawer, I ran out of good reasons to delay!

I did a bit more reading and asked around to figure out what I would need at an absolute minimum to create my first gel manicure and I figure I can build from there. Everything I needed to get started was kindly provided by Just Beauty. My starter kit consists of…

Mylee PRO Elite 4+1 LED Lamp
Mylee Nail Prep & Polish + Lint Free Wipes
Bluesky Base Coat
Bluesky Dance Collection Gel Polish – DC043: Which is a Plum Purple, not black as it looks on the website
Bluesky Purple Glitter Gel Polish – YYF07: A flaky duochrome topper
Bluesky No Wipe Top Coat

I’d recommend stocking up on orange sticks if you don’t already have some at home. They come in handy for cleaning up and bits of gel that get on your skin before curing – and are essential during removal. I also used a wide, flat nail art brush that I got from Born Pretty Store to smooth out the tacky layer left by the base coat – cuz I saw someone do that once!

So this is my first time giving myself a full gel manicure. So I read the instructions, watched a few YouTube tutorials for good measure and got stuck in! Here are 4 things that stood out for me…

1. I was surprised by how quick the whole process is

Using the Mylee LED lamp and Bluesky polish combination only required 30 seconds of curing for each layer, with 60 seconds on the top coat but I know it can vary by brand and dependent on whether you’re using a UV or LED lamp. Compared to regular nail polish, which I give at least 5 minutes to dry between coats, that is hella quick!

I used a base coat, 2 coats of colour, the glitter, and finally a top coat. All in all, that’s 5 coats to paint and 3 minutes of curing time for each nail (but not 30 x 10 as you can cure multiple fingers at a time).

The Mylee lamp is a ‘4+1’ design which means you can get your 4 fingers in, but have to do the thumb separately. So it’s recommended that you do 4 fingers first, then the other 4 four fingers, and finally both thumbs at the same time. Doing it this way took me just under 30 minutes.

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2. I wondered why I hadn’t done this sooner

As a nail blogger, it’s kind of my job to hop on the latest trends but I failed hard on this one. What really pushed me to finally try this was the chrome/mirror nail trend but I should have jumped on it sooner.

Gel is a trend that’s been picking up speed for a while now and I feel like this is the year that it really became accessible for the majority of at-home nail enthusiasts. The kit is more affordable than ever and there are (literally) thousands of tutorials online to teach you any which way you can imagine for applying gel nail polish.

3. I realised it’s not just ‘regular polish manicure plus lamp’

I’m a seasoned nail painter and can polish my nails perfectly from base coat to clean-up with regular polish, but I need some practice when it comes to gel.

While I can paint a nice clean line at the cuticle, there’s much more to it than that – and more potential for things to go wrong. For example, the gel was shrinking away at the tips on some fingers – did I not paint them properly? Did I cure them incorrectly? And the finish was bumpy, not smooth – I think I was a bit skimpy with the top coat.

For me, improving is a case of troubleshooting. So I just need to educate myself, change my technique, and get some practice in!

4. I f*&ked up the removal and damaged my nails a little bit

And it was totally my fault! It’s often assumed that because I regularly spend upwards of 1 hour painting my nails and doing nail art, I must have the patience of a saint. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have zero patience when it comes to essential tasks that render my hands useless for up to half an hour!

I buffed of the shiny top coat as instructed and then lasted all of 5 minutes with my fingers wrapped in foil, soaking in acetone before I gave in and started scraping it all off with an orange stick. Needless to say I peeled a few bits of nail off with it. Nothing too shocking but I did have to buff out some of the damage and I’ll have to wait for the marks to grow out

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  • Emily Holding

    To solve the bumpy finish just don’t skimp on polish when applying. Remember that with gels it dries under the lamp so you don’t need thin coats- I find slightly thicker coats work better. A thick coat usually evens itself out quite well too. Same with the topcoat. 🙂

    • Leisha Kenlock

      This is not true sorry, two thin layers are always better than one thick layer when it comes to gel. Obviously you don’t want to make it too thin but a too thick layer will not cure properly and, especially with top coat, will effect the longevity of your gel manicure. Top coat also has a thinner consistency so a thicker coat may cause it to bleed around the sides of the nail and cuticle making it harder to clean and get a crisp edge. Sorry to chime in! My advice if the topcoat is bumpy is to try two layers, if this doesn’t work then I’d change brand. In my experience, Bluesky top and base gels are just not as good as many others x

  • Holi Brand

    When the gel polish is shrinking, try doing one nail at a time. Even with proper dehydration, some Gels still shrink. Always dehydrate more than you think you need to.

  • Emma B

    I found I was allergic to some part of the gel process as my nails had been affected by MNP, but for the time I tried it, I loved the speed and the instant solid dry nails I had. Which peel off base are you going to use? Soak off was always my bug bear, I think that is the stage my skin really reacted to. I never managed to get my topcoat smooth, maybe I was skimping I am not sure, but often found holes in it. In the end I started to clean the tacky layer off after colour then use HK Girl.

  • Karen A

    You can get a gel topcoat from numerous brands that cover ordinary polish to give the longevity of gel manicure.

    • Kippi Greco-Schank

      Seche Vite makes an awesome gel top coat that works well with regular polish and you don’t have to soak it off.

  • I have a kit and tried it once and majorly failed. I haven’t touched it since. But I really want to try out this powder trend so I guess I will need to break out the map again.