Doing your own manicure using UV gel polish is almost as easy as painting your own nails with nail polish. Yes, there are a few more steps… but if you paint nail polish neatly, you’d be able to do this as well. The best thing is that purchasing all the items needed to do your own gel polish, will pay for themselves after your 2nd to 3rd application, depending on which kit you choose to buy.

  • Nail prep tools (nail file, buff, cuticle pusher/clipper)
  • Primer or Ultrabond (must be non-acidic)
  • UV Gel Base Coat
  • UV Gel Polish Color of your choice
  • UV Gel Top Coat (non-wipe is easiest)
  • UV Nail Lamp
  • Gel removal items (see tutorial on gel removal to see what is needed for this)


  • Start with clean dry hands and nails.
  • Remove all existing nail product and file your nails to your preferred length.
  • Push back your cuticles using a steel cuticle pushing tool or a wooden cuticle stick.
  • Clip back any excess skin around your nails for a neat look.
  • Gently file the surface of each nail to make the nails slightly rough (see middle photo above). This encourages the gel to hold onto the nail, but please be careful not to file too much, a little is enough… You just want the nail to be a bit rough, not smooth.
  • Brush away any dust that’s left behind.
  • Do not wash your hands to remove dust – hands and nails must be dry.


  • If doing your own nails, it may be easier to do 1 hand to completion before starting with your second hand.
  • Brush on a thin coat of non-acidic primer (or Ultrabond) to each nail, and wait for it to dry completely (this removes any oils or moisture left on the nail, and preps your nail for the gel application).
  • Apply a layer of base coat to each nail and cure under your lamp for the required time, according to your lamp’s instructions.
  • Apply 2-3 thin coats of the UV gel color polish, curing under your lamp for the required time between each coat.
  • You’ll see after the second coat where you need a third coat (some colors are more pigmented than others, so will only need 2 coats). It is important to keep each layer as thin as possible, as thick layers may not cure properly and also lead to early lifting after a few days.
  • Once you are satisfied with the level of color, apply a thin layer of the top coat and cure to seal.
  • Apply some cuticle oil or hand cream daily to keep your manicure looking great!

Once you’ve mastered the application of gel, you’ll have about 3-4 weeks of gorgeous looking nails before having to remove them and reapply a new set!

Gel Polish is a much stronger option compared to nail polish, allowing your natural nails to grow nicely underneath. It is better suited for short to medium length nails though, as there is still some flexibility to gel polish. So if you want to keep your nails long to very long, you’d need to strengthen them with Acrylic (see the tutorial on dipping acrylic to see what is needed for this).


Make sure you don’t get any gel onto the cuticle/skin, as this can cause lifting as the nail grows away from that part of skin. Remember to also cap the free edges of your nails (the exposed side walls of the nail) to prevent lifting and moisture getting underneath the gel.

When applying each gel coat, you need to be as neat as possible. Remember it doesn’t dry on it’s own like nail polish, so you have time to go slowly and be as neat as possible. If you do mess some gel onto your skin, use a toothpick or a wooden cuticle stick to clean it up before placing your hand under the lamp to cure.

If you notice the base and gel colors are sticky after they have been cured – this is 100% normal and nothing has gone wrong. After curing they will be set, but will still feel ‘tacky’ (a bit sticky). Only the protective top coat dries hard after curing, and if it is a non-wipe top coat it will not be sticky.

Have a look at the nail kits available here

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