Gel nails can be intimidating for first timers, especially if you’re used to seeing all the fancy gel nail art on Instagram and TikTok. But starting with a simple manicure isn't difficult, as long as you follow some easy best practices.
Let’s start with the basics.
- Types of Polishes
There are a number of different nail polishes that exist in the manicure world. Ordinary nail polishes and water-based nail polishes have been used by beginners at home for decades and don’t need to be cured by UV lamps– just air dry and you’re good to go!
If you’re looking for something a little more long lasting, UV gels and ordinary gel polishes can be cured by UV LED lamps like SunUV. These options are great because:
- they typically last longer than regular nail polishes
- they cure quickly under lamps (no more long dry times!)
- they are a good option for nail art
Gel nail stickers are also an option. They are applied like a sticker, cut to size, and cured under a UV lamp like regular gel nail polish.
- Types of UV Lamps
SunUV has over 20 different UV LED Lamps on the market, made to meet you where you are.
If you’re a beginner to the world of home manicures, models like the Sun9C are good options. Sun9C has timer abilities of 30 and 60 seconds and has motion sensors to save energy when you’re not actively curing your nails.
If you’re dedicated to your gel manicures and nail art, more advanced models like the Sun2C and Sun5 are great options. Each model introduces different set timers, and the Sun2C also offers the option for a low heat mode.
The Sun1 model is a great option for people who are first-timers or nail art enthusiasts, with many of the same features as the Sun9C, the addition of a five second timer option, and a removable mirrored base for pedicures.
All SunUV lamps are UV LED lamps, so they have longer life, stronger curing efficiency and are more environmentally conscious than typical non-LED UV Lamps.
- Other Tools
While a type of polish and a UV LED lamp are the most important tools to start your at-home gel manicure journey, there are many other nail tools that are helpful. The most basic additional tools are nail clippers and a nail file, but other tools may prove extraordinarily helpful on your mani-pedi journey.
Here are some of the tools that you might need on your mani-pedi journey:
- Nail Clippers and a Nail File: These are great tools to get your nails the shape you want, be it almond, round, or stiletto
- Cuticle Oil: Cuticle Oil softens your cuticles to make them easier to push back. Just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, as residual oil on your nails can make gels lift– yikes!
- Nail Buffers: Buffing your nails can help remove natural oils that could cause your polish to lift. Just like cuticle oil, you have to be careful of any excess oil. Many nail artists recommend wiping your nails with acetone after using cuticle oil or buffing out natural oils to increase the lifespan of your manicure.
- Gel Base Coats and Top Coats: Base coats help your gel polish stick to your nails and protect your nails from staining. Finishing with a top coat makes your nails last longer overall and avoid chipping.
- Best Practices and Safety
Now that you have your basics, all that’s left to do is polish! Starting with a gel base coat can make sure your gels stick to your nails, smooth out nail surfaces, and reduce chipping. They also help protect your natural nails from staining. Cure your base coat under your SunUV Lamp according to the polish manufacturer’s instructions.
When you go in with your color, use thin layers and cure between each layer until you reach the level of opacity you want. For the longest-lasting nails, avoid getting polish on your cuticles and skin.
Finish with a gel top coat, cure one last time, and voila! Salon-quality nails from the comfort of your home.
UV Lamps can be damaging to your skin, so make sure you wear protective gloves or apply SPF 30+ to your hands for extra protection before placing them under the lamp. SunUV lamps also use targeted wavelengths and balanced wattage to be as gentle on your skin as possible while still providing you with a complete cure.
Doing your own nails for the first time can be scary, but with the right tools and tips it shouldn’t be difficult. Just take your time, be careful, and remember that nobody does it perfectly the first time!