My Latest Beauty Obsession: Gel Manicure at Home

Gel Shellac Manicure at Home

You know how awesome it is after you get a gel manicure and you don’t have to worry about smudging your polish? The first time I ever got a gel mani I was in disbelief that my nails were actually fully dry. The joy it gave me to not have to worry about my nails for the next few hours was maybe even a little ridiculous, but I’m a bit of a nail freak.

Even though I was so excited about gel nails I never got into too much of a habit with gel nails until the past few years (mostly because of the expense, but also because of the time and health factors). Now that I do photo shoots regularly, having my nails done became much more necessary. Since I also do CrossFit, regular polish doesn’t stand a chance. Between moving weights around the gym and doing the dishes, a regular mani with a really good topcoat will only last two days max.

I know that nail polish in general isn’t great health wise (just Google it), so I give my nails lots of breaks from polish. I also never became a regular mani/pedi getter because of the expense. I’m good at painting my own nails so I would mostly do them myself at home.

In the summer, before important events, or vacations I would always get pedicures, but rarely would I get a manicure. 

Shellac Gel Manicure at Home

Once I experienced gel I was done for. As much as I enjoy a relaxing hour getting my nails done, I don’t always have time to make it happen. And sometimes I prefer to do it at home.

Enter my new gel at home system! It’s not like this is anything new, a lot of companies make gel polish at home kits and have for several years. But for whatever reason, I just recently decided I needed to try it out.

I wanted to get the CND brand because a nail technician told me once that CND’s shellac polish is better than gel polishes because shellac has little holes in it that lets oxygen through to your nail. This also makes shellac easier to get off. The problem is, CND is a salon brand and doesn’t sell to the general public, so you have to try to find the polishes online which is easier said than done if you are looking for specific colors.

The CND shellac also needs a LED lamp while many of the other gel polishes require a UV lamp. So I had to find an LED nail lamp and find the CND shellac base coat, top coat and the colors I wanted.

I got the this lamp and I found the CND top coat, base coat, and a few colors (Black Pool, Field Fox, and Beau) off of some weird nail website but you can also find some on Amazon. I love Black Pool and Field Fox, but Beau was a little on the pink side for me. I might wear it in the summer, but I prefer less pink.

Shellac Manicure at Home - Meg BIram

My investment was around $100. In DC a gel/shellac mani will run you around $35-50+ (without tip) depending on if they are taking off your gel mani or not, etc. So for the price of 2-3 manis I bought my own to do at home.

I’ve only had my shellac kit at home for a few months but was obsessed after the first time I did my nails. It all worked perfectly. Now I can quickly do a gel mani at home in about 30 minutes while watching a show. I love having the option of doing it at home!

It’s super easy — you do the base coat then cure for 10 seconds, thin first layer and cure for 2 minutes, second layer of color and cure for 2 minutes, then top coat and cure for 2-3 minutes. Then do the other hand. At the end you’ll want to take a cotton pad and some rubbing alcohol and rub every nail because it gets the sticky stuff off. Also, if after a week your nails are looking dull, you can rub more rubbing alcohol on them and it will shine them up.

I still go get pedicures every once in a while. I don’t do gel on my toes, but I will also take advantage of being at the salon and having them take off my shellac manicure and giving me just a plain mani. Nail professionals are better at shaping and filing my nails — so I like to get that done every once in a while.

I can take the shellac off at home with acetone remover, foil, and a stick like this, just like they do at the salon, but it is harder to do yourself. I’m thinking of getting the CND brand of remover, have any of you tried it? If you do this at home, make sure you don’t forget to file the top of your mani first, that helps the remover get in.

I’m also thinking about getting a few more colors: Romantique and Studio White. Have any of you ever gotten those colors at the salon?

Do any of you do gel/shellac manicures at home?

Shellac Manicure at Home

Seen in photos: silk floral shirt; Anna Beck rings


Photos by Emma Weiss

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How To do a Gel Manicure at Home