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Happy Friday everybody! And in honor of this beautiful day of the week, I felt like doing something fancy for the weekend: sharing my five-minute salon quality gel manicure DIY. It’s cheap, it’s super easy and it actually lasts more than 24 hours before chipping (we’re talking up to a week here people)! Seriously, I have got this thing down to a science, and I’m sharing all my secrets here with you.
Disclaimer: 5 minutes to do the whole manicure, but does not include drying time.
One of the things I gave up when I stopped working full time were my regular mani/pedis. I know it might sound dumb, but I loved having this done. It was mandatory “me” time. And when you work 13 hour days working with really sick people, you deserve a little “me” time. But as we all know, mani/pedis aren’t cheap. They can easily run you over $50, and if you get it on the regular, it doesn’t take a mathematician to see why this luxury had to go.
Doing my own pedicures wasn’t a big deal. While it wasn’t the same kind of pampering, at least when I did it myself I felt like I got a decent amount of wear out my polish before it was obvious that I needed to do it again.
The same can’t be said about DIY manicures. Thanks to natural oils and the wear and tear we put on our hands and fingers each day, you’re lucky if you get a day or two out of a DIY manicure. So for a long time, I just didn’t bother. But I missed my funky colors and my polished nails. So I set out to figure out how to do it myself and still get salon quality out of the deal.
And after a few good rounds of trial and error and plenty of fun test colors, I’ve got it figured out! And the best part is, even with running after a toddler, maintaining a home and just life in general, my manicure lasts me up to 5 days before it shows any kind of chipping. FIVE DAYS! That’s like a lifetime in DIY manicures. And that’s if I do my nails and never touch them up. If I touch them up after a few days it will last me well into the next week.
And if that isn’t enough to get you excited, everything I use can be purchased at your local drugstore. Follow my math here…
Salon manicure (lasts about a week): $25-30/manicure
DIY salon quality manicure: (lasts just under a week): $15 for everything you need and then can use for a bajillion DIY manicures
I’m not saying…I’m just saying…
What you’ll need:
- Your favorite basic nail file
- Basic nail buffer (optional, but definitely recommended)
- Cuticle oil
- Favorite nail polish (I’m using this one)
- Revlon Colorstay Gel-shine top coat (this is non-negotiable, so don’t skimp on this one)
You’ll want to start with freshly trimmed nails that have any old polish already removed. File to even out the length and make sure your nails are shaped just how you like them. I have ridiculously fast growing nails, but I prefer to keep them nice and short if I’m going to do any color. Just a personal preference.
After you’re happy the length and shape of your nails, go ahead and buff them on the edges to make sure you don’t have any sharp points. You can go ahead and buff your entire nail bed. It’s completely up to you. I sometimes skip that step.
Next, you’ll want to massage a small about of cuticle oil over your cuticles. Go ahead and gently push back your cuticles while you’re there. This just helps clean up the base of your nail. You can use a cuticle stick if you like, but I usually just use my fingertips.
Note: if you don’t have cuticle oil on hand, try using coconut oil! Definitely a great substitute.
Once you’ve massaged in your oil, wipe off any excess so it doesn’t interfere with your polish.
Now for the fun part!
I have found that it helps the longevity of the manicure to use a higher quality nail polish like Essie or OPI. It’s not mandatory, but it does effect the quality of your DIY manicure.
Money saving tip: if you don’t feel like spending $9 on higher quality nail polish, make sure to check out your local TJ Maxx where they carry select colors of OPI and Essie polishes for $3-4.
Go ahead and apply your first coat of polish. Your first coat will look very thin. Once you’ve finished all of your nails, go back to your first one and begin to apply your second coat. If you’ve chosen a lighter polish, two coats should be sufficient. If you’re going with a darker color, you may want to do three. Once you’re happy with the color, give it a minute or two to set.
Keep in mind the more coats you apply the longer you’ll want to allow for drying time.
Side tip: If you constantly struggle with bubbles in your DIY manicure, try storing your nail polish in the refrigerator. It sounds crazy, but it makes a difference!
Once a little time has passed (you don’t have to wait for the color to completely dry just enough to let it get a head start), it’s time for the gel top coat.
I picked this Revlon gel top coat on a whim one time at Target probably about two years ago. It completely changed the DIY manicure game for me! Not only am I still using that same bottle (seriously, talk about getting your money out of a product), but I am convinced it’s why my manicures last so much longer! Seriously awesome stuff.
It does coat with a lot of polish when you first brush it on your nail which can get messy. When you’re dipping your polish brush just make sure to compress it against the inside neck of the bottle to help get rid of some of the excess. A little bit of the top coat goes a long way.
And that’s it! Now you just have to patiently wait for it to dry. Which, thanks to the top coat, doesn’t take terribly long. And you now have a salon quality gel manicure in no time for a fraction of the price!
My suggestion: put your babies down for the night, turn on some Netflix and enjoy it. We’re completely useless when our nails are drying, so I suggest you take full advantage of your very much deserved “me” time.
Five Minute Salon Quality Gel Manicure DIY:
- Trim, file and buff your nails till they are the size and shape you prefer.
- Massage in cuticle oil to the base of your nail. Gently push back cuticles. Wipe off any excess oil.
- Apply first coat of polish.
- Once finished with the first coat, begin to apply the second coat.
- Apply third coat if necessary.
- Apply gel top coat
- Turn on Netflix and allow nails to dry.