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Doing Nails at Home


Must Start Somewhere

I have been doing my nails at home for a few years now. However I am far from a professional.

I have learned a lot about technique and products. Slowly, I have discovered my personally preferred technique and so far it has worked out for me.

In this article we will talk about poly gel, acrylic, builder gel, sculpting, and nail tips.

Acrylic Nail Extentions

I started with acrylic. At this point I had no idea there was any other way.

I went to Walmart and found a cheap, simple acrylic nail set. It contained some nail tips, nail glue, acrylic powder, a nail file, cuticle pusher, a little bottle of monomer, and some simple instructions.

The instructions were not as helpful as I needed, so I went to YouTube and got to work. My first few sets of nails were scary! I found that learning how to file the nails down and shape would be the easiest way to correct the mess I had.

I gave up for awhile before going to Amazon. Good ol' Amazon. I went for a cheap set with lots of extras. Decided on two different ones and waited for them to come in the mail. I will list them below.

They have a ton of glitter, little jewels, acrylic powder, and all of the things you need to do your nails with acrylic. The sets came with a fake finger, I have never used it though.

I had such a blast learning how to apply the acrylic. Doing different designs, and just having fun. However, in both sets I received some builder gel.

Going the cheaper route had pros and cons.

PROS- It was a cheap way for me to learn acrylic was not for me. Came with a ton of different accessories I did end up loving and continued.

CONS- Cheaper sets like these come with lower quality acrylic product. The acrylic would set before I could even sculpt it sometimes. Acrylic smells so strongly and it lingers.

Builder Gel

Receiving the builder gel in the Amazon sets was a game changer for me. Up until then I had never even thought about using it.

I tried using the builder gel a few times. I could never get it to cure with the little lamp that comes with the Amazon sets. I learned that builder gel needs longer under a stronger lamp.

After about a year I ended up getting a better lamp. We will get to that another day. The new lamp was a new game changer. I used the 120 sec setting, worked like a charm.

I also learned that thin layers are best. I normally do 4-5 thin layers, curing in between each layer. Which can help with doing some art. After curing, the gel will still be sticky. Make sure to clean it up with some gel nail cleaner or I use rubbing alcohol and then clear coat.

PROS- Encapsulating is very easy. No smell. Easy to use and build up. Great for nail art.

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CONS- Takes a good lamp to cure. Stays sticky after being cured and needs cleaned up.


Poly Gel

Once you look up anything on the internet, ads will pop up all over for those products. So before I could give up on the idea of doing my own nails, I saw an ad for poly gel. I ordered a kit from some place I saw an ad for and fell in love!

Poly gel had next to no filing needed. The set I had purchased came with plastic forms. I used these forms for awhile. I personally had a hard time using the forms. The sides of my nails were always to thin, apex to thick, and so much product still under my nail and dripping down my finger.

I started using nail extension tips and building up from the tip similar to what you would do with acrylic. Then I started just sculpting with a paper nail form, never looked back. I squeeze some product out of the tub and then pat it down into place. I use rubbing alcohol to keep the poly gel from sticking to my brush. Cure for 90 seconds on top and bottom of the nail. Clear coat and done.

PROS- Super easy to use and sculpt. No smell. Easy to build up. Easy to work with.

CONS- The room needs to be cooler. 65-70 degrees is best I think. Otherwise the poly gel will become to liquidly. that the only con I have.


Dip Nails

When I first saw dip nails being done I was so excited to try it.

I went to a local shop and got a little kit.

The kit I purchased was about $50. It came with 2 colored powders, a catching tray, the application bottles, and a brush cleaning bottle. As well as some instructions.

Its an easy step 1, 2, 3 kind of thing. It seems simple enough. For some reason I could not get it to work right and hated the way it looked.

Tried it once and gave up completely.


End Of The Day

End of the day I prefer to use a poly gel over a paper extension. I sculpt the nail to form what I like and cure it. I try to do this in a cooler room so that it is an easy process. I like to encapsulate glitter and foil sheets for my nail art.

Everything in this blog is just my personal experience, I am no expert and I have no school/professional training.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Darline Schuh

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