Perfect Faux Gel Manicure
Two things: I'm kinda cheap and I am very afraid of the gel mani. I've seen the damage done to natural nails when the polish starts to chip and it makes me cringe. I also really hate chipped nail polish and a regular old manicure lasts me for about 1.5 seconds before it starts to get dented and dinged. I treat myself to a salon manicure a few times a year, but more often than not, I do my nails at home.
Sadly, home manis often end with the dreaded "sheet print" on nails that haven't fully cured. This at home solution to a gel manicure will give you ten perfect talons with nary a smudge in sight. This manicure is not for the impatient - you will need 2-5 minutes for drying time between coats, but it's worth it.
Goods & Tools
- American Classic Gelous Nail Gel Base Coat
- Your favorite nail lacquer - I know I said I'm kinda cheap, but I do splurge ($23) on a yearly bottle of Chanel #505 Particulière. It's my favorite and lasts longer than any other polish I've used. Suitable, but slightly different dupes: Essie Mink Muffs ($8) and Zoya Chanelle ($10), and OPI You Don't Know Jacques ($8), and OPI Over the Taupe ($8). Essie is browner, OPI is greyer, and Zoya is the closest dupe, even in name.
- Quick Dry top coat - I prefer INM's Out the Door, but Seche Vite or Sally Hansen Dries Instantly are other options.
- Nail buffer and emery board
- Cuticle stick/orangewood stick
- Nail polish remover, cotton balls, paintbrush (preferred) or cotton swabs
- Hand moisturizer
Start with clean, dry nails. Remove polish if you haven't and push cuticles back with a cuticle stick if necesssary. Rough, hard cuticles? Soak your fingertips in warm soapy water for five minutes before pushing cuticles back. Lightly buff nails then soften hands with a creamy moisturizer and be sure to wipe moisturizer from nail beds with a swipe of nail polish remover to ensure the polish will adhere to the surface.
Apply one coat of the Gelous base coat and let dry for two minutes before following with a thin coat of your favorite nail color. For the best technique, paint a stripe down the middle, and cover the rest of the nail on either side. Let the two coats dry for approximately five minutes before topping with another coat of Gelous base coat. Be sure to cover the tips and underside of your nails to discourage chipping.
Wait for another five minutes before proceeding to thinly paint on the second coat of color polish. At this point, you should have four coats and this is a good time to clean up mistakes and extra polish with a paintbrush dipped in remover. Again, let the polish dry for at least five minutes. This is best aided by a fan— I stick my hands next to the air purifier! Lastly, top off with a coat of quick dry top coat and let it set for a few minutes. It will still take at least an hour to fully cure, but your nails will be smudge resistant in just a few minutes!
This mani should last from 7-10 days chip-free as long as you made thin coats and covered the free edge of your nails. You can top with another coat of Out the Door 2-3 days in to keep it looking fresh! Again, be sure to coat your nails thinly as you end up with five coats of polish in the end.