Avoid getting gel nail polish on your cuticles or skin.

How to Apply Salon Quality Gel Nails

by Jaimie Zinski

Unlike traditional polishes that chip and fade in a matter of hours or days, gel manicures provide a glossy, finished appearance that can last up to two weeks, if the product is applied properly. Until recently, women were forced to spend unnecessary time and money to have gel nail polish expertly applied by a professional. However, there are now a variety of gel manicure kits available through drugstore and beauty supply shops. Achieve a professional appearance at home for a fraction of the cost by properly prepping your nails before applying the gel nail polish.

Push back your cuticles with a orangewood stick. Clip your fingernails to a desired length and shape them or remove the uneven edges with a nail file.

Wipe down the nails with a non-acetone nail polish and lint-free cloth. Avoid using cotton balls, as these can leave behind tiny fibers that will adhere to the gel polish.

Apply a thin layer of nail bonder to each nail, paying attention to avoid getting the product on your skin. Cure the bonder under a UV nail lamp for one minute, or as recommended by the lamp's manufacturer or the gel nail kit. Nail bonder is available in the gel nail kit.

Cover your nails with a thin layer of the gel nail polish, paying attention to avoid getting the polish on your skin or cuticles. Once finished, cure your fingernails under the UV lamp for five minutes, or as directed by the gel nail kit's manufacturer.

Apply a second thin coating of the gel nail polish to each fingernail. Once again, cure your nails for five minutes, or the amount of time recommended by the gel nail kit.

Apply a thin layer of top coat, which is provided in the gel manicure kit. Cure fingernails under the UV nail lamp for the amount of time recommended by the gel manicure kit.

Wipe down the nails with a lint-free cloth and nail cleanser, which is provided in the kit. The cleanser removes any uncured, tacky topcoat from the nails. Apply a thin layer of cuticle oil or moisturizing lotion to your cuticles to prevent drying out the skin surrounding your nails.

Items you will need

  • Orangewood stick
  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file
  • Non-acetone nail polish remover
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Gel nail polish kit
  • UV nail lamp
  • Cuticle oil
  • Moisturizing hand lotion


  • Gel nail polish removers are available at drugstores and beauty supply stores.

About the Author

Residing in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Jaimie Zinski has been writing since 2009. Specializing in pop culture, film and television, her work appears on Star Reviews and various other websites. Zinski is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Wisconsin.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images