How to Do a Gel Manicure

May 23, 2013

I’m addicted to doing my nails.  I love painted nails and chipped polish makes me cringe.  Therefore when my mom introduced me to Shellac (aka Gel Manicure), I was pretty certain Christmas came early.

Shellac Nails

Long story short, the polish is a little more expensive, it takes a little bit more time to apply, but 2-3 weeks with chip free and shiny polish!? It’s a no-brainer in my book.

So how to do it… well 1st you need a UV nail lamp, nail polishes (including base and top coat), 99% alcohol (remover) and manicure accessories (file, buffer, etc.). Here we go…

1. Remove your old Shellac nail polish with Pure Acetone (there are multiple ways but the acetone must remain on your nails for 10 minutes – a. you can dip it in cotton pads and securing them on your finger with foil or b. soak your nails in a shallow dish filled with acetone).

Acetone Remover

2. Make sure your nail bed is CLEAN – I file/shape my nails, then buff to “rough” up the service.  I then spray with this nail cleaner and (once dry) brush BondAid on each nail to dry it out, so that it really holds the polish.


Nail Clean

3. Next… the fun begins! Brush a THIN layer of Shellac Base Coat onto each nail.

Base Coat

4. Put under lamp for 10 seconds.

Heat Lamp

5. Apply color coat. Then dry under lamp for 120 seconds.


6. Repeat color coat if needed. Followed by 120 more seconds under the lamp.*

Nail Polish

7. Finish with top coat.

Top Coat8. Finish with 120 seconds under the lamp.

UV Lamp

9. Saturate a cotton pad with 99% Alcohol and swipe over each nail.  This will remove the “gooey” residue left behind by the top coat and result in shiny, gorgeous nails!

10. Go wash the dishes/take a shower/go swimming… whatever you couldn’t do if you had wet nails for 20 more hours! You’re good to go!



  • Make sure to apply thin coats, otherwise the polish could bubble or when your manicure grows out the polish will stick out (see the first image – my middle finger = not going to be good in a week)
  • Try to brush the edge of your nails to create a sort of protective barrier to keep the polish “contained” (see image*)
  • Experiment! Layer different colors to create your own!  I have done up to 3 layers and if they are thin enough I’ve never had a problem.
  • Practice makes perfect! My polish used to bubble, crack, polish would be missing on parts of my nail, but after a few tries I am proud to say I am now consistently problem free!
  • Favorite colors: Romantique (Nude/Pink), Negligee (White/Nude), Dark Lava (Cranberry/Purple), Fedora (like “Lincoln Park After Dark”), Midnight Swim (Navy)

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  • Reply bronzeandblush March 17, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for this! I love painting my nails, but always end up putting it off because the chipping makes me crazy. I’m thinking about splurging on the Sephora by OPI kit, but I had no idea where to start!

    • Reply Laundry in Louboutins March 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      I bought my “stuff” before the OPI sets came out and I’ve heard those are even better! I haven’t personally tried them… but I definitely would give them a shot! You will LOVE gel manicures… a real life changer! Good luck!

      • Reply bronzeandblush March 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm

        They seem to have good reviews and they seem like a no brainer for someone like me. I tend to walk into the store with a shopping list, and just forget everything I know. I will have to pick it up at some point. Thanks!

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