How to Apply Gel Polish: From Start to Finish

A beautifully manicured nails

Gel polish has been receiving a lot of attention lately, and it's becoming a popular trend. If you're curious about the application process and what's required to make it last longer, this guide will walk you through the steps and provide you with all the necessary details. Let's dive into it!"

How to Prepare Your Nails for Application 

Filing nails for gel polish application

In the process of applying gel polish, the tools used and the preparation technique are crucial for achieving the desired outcome. It's essential to get this step right. Here's a list of supplies you'll need:


  • Nail files
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Buffer
  • Nail cleanser
  • Lint-free cloths, gel wipes, or regular wipes
  • Gel base coat, color, and top coat
  • Lamp

The first preparatory step involves thoroughly cleansing the nails to remove any bacteria or dirt. Use a nail cleanser for this purpose. Following that, use a cuticle pusher to gently push back the skin and remove any dead cuticle from the nail plate.

This step is important because it eliminates dead tissue, exposes more of the nail plate, and creates a more uniform shape. However, this must be carried out rather gently.

Afterwards, proceed to file your nails. If necessary, clip them before filing. Focus on filing the free edges and corners to create a squoval or rounded shape for enhanced durability.

While gel adheres well to a textured surface, excessive roughness from coarse files can lead to uneven gel thickness. It's important to leave a small amount of free edge to allow the gel to adhere properly, preventing issues like chipping, lifting, and shrinkage during curing.

The next step involves using a buffer to eliminate the natural shine and any debris on the nails. Gel adheres best to a textured surface, and overly glossy finishes can cause it to peel off.

Once again, cleanse the nails thoroughly and ensure they are completely dry. You can gently use a cuticle pusher once more to ensure the skin is neatly pushed back. Your nails are now fully prepped and ready for the gel polish application. Voila!

How to Apply Gel Polish: A 7-Step Guide

Applying gel polish to nails

Now, here comes the nitty-gritty part. A step-by-step guide for achieving a basic and long-lasting gel polish manicure for beginners and well, nail enthusiasts:

1. Begin with clean nails

Begin with clean, unpolished nails filed to your desired length, ensuring there is no surface shine. Gather all the necessary supplies before you start, this might seem like not such a big deal but it is!

2. Apply a cuticle softener

Apply cuticle softener and let it sit for 10-15 seconds. Gently push back your cuticles using a cuticle pusher. Carefully remove any stubborn bits with cuticle scissors or nippers. Be cautious when using metal tools to prevent damaging the nail plate.

3. Apply a thin layer of the base coat. 

Applying a base coat to nails

Start in the center of the nail to avoid flooding the cuticle. Leave a small gap between the polish and the cuticle to prevent issues with lifting. The small white line of skin at the base of the nail is the eponychium, often referred to as the skin of the cuticle. 

Applying polish to the cuticle can lead to separation as your nail grows, causing the polish to lift. To ensure even coverage, use a back-and-forth motion while applying the base coat, making sure it fills all the nooks and crannies.

This means that you use the brush to apply the base coat to the nail, starting with a pool in the center and spreading it outward with downward strokes. It's important to tilt the nails slightly to avoid contact with the cuticle and side walls.

For each layer, remember to "wrap the tips" by applying the polish to the free edge of your nail. Finding the right amount of polish to apply may take practice because you don't want to do too much and you don't want to do too little but it's essential for a long-lasting manicure.

Cure the base coat using a UV or LED lamp. Gel polish doesn't air-dry; it cures under UV light, and it's best to perform the application process with the lamp nearby for convenient curing. So by the time you are done with the base coat application process for the nails, they are all cured.

4. Apply a thin coat of color and cure it

Gel polishes are often less opaque, so you may need to apply 2-3 coats or more to achieve your desired opacity. To do this, apply your chosen color on top of the base coat. If you apply the base coat correctly, this step is straightforward, as it sets the stage for the color application.

If you accidentally get color on the cuticle, you can use a brush dipped in a cleanser or simply your thumb to refine the application. Remember to apply thinner layers to ensure proper curing, and don't forget to wrap the tips of your nails.

5. Apply a top coat

This is what you might consider the perfect finishing touch and a key step for a longer-lasting manicure, and it's perhaps the easiest part of the process so far. All you need to do is apply the top coat smoothly for added strength and then cure it.

6. Cleanse your nails again!

To remove the inhibition layer, cleanse your nails with a gel wipe. Dampen a lint-free cloth with a nail cleanser or a gel wipe and gently wipe the nail surface. Be cautious not to swipe excessively to avoid spreading gel onto the skin, but apply enough pressure. Use a separate wipe or cloth for each nail.

7. Apply cuticle oil

The cleansing process can be drying for the nails, so after the gel polish application process, it's essential to apply cuticle oil to rehydrate your cuticles. 

We recommend using a jojoba-based cuticle oil as it closely resembles the sebum produced by the skin and is excellent for nail health. Regular application of cuticle oil will help maintain the health and appearance of your nails.

We sell a gel nails kit that has everything you need to start doing your own manis at home.

Back to blog