If I stayed away from EVERYTHING a professional told me I couldn’t do I wouldn’t get out of bed in a morning. Same goes for doing your own ‘gel’ nails. I use gel as a loose term as the gel I use is a gel/nail polish hybrid made to be removed using acetone.
My process is simple and I use the SAME process for every brand I use:
1. Buff shine off natural nail after you have gently pushed back your cuticles
2. Clean with IPA and a link free wipe
3. Apply a primer. Primers make your manicure last longer (about 2 days) but it is harder to remove.
4. Apply a thin layer of your chosen base coat avoiding SKIN! Avoidance of skin is good for longevity (less peeling) as well as for safety reasons. If you get some on your skin don’t panic, remove and just don’t cure it on your skin.
5. Cure for 30 seconds with an LED lamp (a REAL one)
6. Apply colour gel curing for 60 seconds each time. I have never done more than two layers.
7. Apply top coat and cure for 30 seconds.
8. Use IPA or rubbing alcohol (you can get standard or a branded one) to remove he sticky layer which is used for adhesion to a second layer. You don’t need this for your top coat!
9. Use a cuticle oil or balm
These are brands I have USED.
Sensationail – This was my first kit and it is great stuff. Hard to remove if you use the primer. Limited colours.
CND Shellac – The one salons are supposed to use. I like it, but your nail technician will say it is not the full shellac service doing it from home. Probably not but it lasts for 2 weeks and I will make a note on salons later.
Bluesky/CCO Shellac – These are Chinese replica brands of the shellac product. With the process I use I don’t see much difference, but it is a 1/3rd of the price.
Orly Gel FX – Review to come
Opi Gel Color – Review to come (will update)
A note on salons.
I had a bad experience with a professional. Had certificates on the wall however I am surprised that you only need to do a few hours of training to get certified and call yourself a professional. I thought 2 years at beauty school would be involved, but alas NOT.
My nails were ruined by a certified professional that had GOOD reviews and now they split vertically in some areas still after 3 years. These were gel extensions but I won’t trust a professional with my hands again and even during the process all the filing and buffing hurt.
Also check what process/products a salon uses and google them before booking. There are some great systems out there but also salons who use fake or replica brands in place of famous brands to save money. CND Shellac and Bluesky Shellac are two such cases. CND is the top end product hard to buy at around £15 and Bluesky is £4. You would expect a professional salon to use CND Shellac with ALL it’s trimmings for a £20-25 price.
A salon that uses a replica brand that can not be traced directly to it’s supplier with an MSDS could impede insurance. So if you do have an allergic reaction or other problems there is no fall back.
I have checked the MSDS for Bluesky and CND and I am happy to use the product. However, being a qualified chemist I probably have more appreciation for this kind of thing than most.