DIY Gel & Acrylic Nails

Hey babes!! So I gave in and I did it… I bought all of the parts to do my own acrylic and gel nails… Let me start by saying, if you want to purchase all of the parts mentioned in this post, it is quite the investment, however, there are cheaper versions of the things that I have linked, additionally, you don’t NEED everything that I have shared! I am no professional, and I’m just sharing what I did, and the products I used that worked best for me. I’ve always loved having my nails done but now that I have the time and nail salons aren’t open, I thought it would be a good time to see if I could teach myself how to do them!

I have divided this post up, if you’re not interested in the acrylic application, feel free to scroll down to the section on gel nails!


Alright, friends, I’m going to be straight up, these are hard and take practice.. By my third full set, I finally feel like I have a grasp on how to do them, but I watched a million Youtube videos and it still takes me 3+ hours to do. Like I said, I’m not a pro, but if you’re interested here is what I did!

Okay! Obviously there’s a ton of tools here, and ALL of these are not necessary. The electric drill is not necessary but it will save you a lot of time and effort when trying to thin out your acrylics towards the end. However, the rest of these things are pretty much necessary to getting your acrylics perfect.

First things first, start with clean nails. Remove any polishes, lotions, or oils from your hands.

Next, you’re going to want to push your cuticles back. Try to file off all the extra skin on the nail bed to allow for a clean surface, otherwise this will cause lifting of your acrylic. You can buff out your nail using a nail file or the nail drill. Please be EXTREMELY CAREFUL when using the nail drill. I did lots and lots and lots of research beforehand. Use at your own risk.

If you do decide to use the nail drill, start extremely slow! To buff out my nail, I went around the edges and gently scraped the top to make the shine go away.

After doing this, it’s time to glue on the tips. For this step, you do not need much glue at all. Remember that this is like super glue for your nails, so if you get any on surrounding skin, fabric, etc, it is not coming out. You can always add a little more if it looks like it’s not staying on, but start with a small bit right on the edge of the tip where you are going to glue it to your real nail. Ensure that the nail tips you are applying fully fit the entire nail. You don’t want them coming over the sides, however it’s better for the nail to be a little too big than too small. You want it to cover the entire nail because you can always file it down.

Cut to desired length. Please remember when cutting them that you are going to be doing a lot of filing down later on so start with the tip a little bit longer than your desired length!! (I made this mistake the first time and they ended up being a little shorter than I had wanted)

After cutting down each nail to the desired length, it was time to start slightly shaping the nails. I filed down the sides, evened out the top a bit and buffed out the harsh line where the nail tip met my real nail.

I then applied the nail dehydrator and the bond primer.

Now it was time to start forming the acrylic.

This is something that you’re going to want to watch videos on. Personally, I found the three bead technique most effective and easiest to do. It takes more time than the one bead, however, I felt like I had more control over where the acrylic was going. You’re going to want to make sure you are using the right technique to ensure the acrylic powder isn’t too wet or too dry when applying it to the nail and don’t allow the acrylic to touch your skin. Make sure you’re keeping it on your nail and formed nicely. Like I said, watch videos because that will be extremely helpful! I will link a few that I watched!


Acrylic Nail Tutorial – How to Apply Acrylic for Beginners

How to Apply Acrylic Nail for Beginners

Watch Me Do My Nails | Acrylic Nails Tutorial

After the acrylic has dried, (you can tell it’s dry by tapping on it. it will make a sound like you are tapping a hard surface), you are going to want to file the nail down. Not just to shape it, but also thin it out. It’s easy to apply the acrylic thick, but you are going to want to thin it out as much as possible and make it even so that you have a smooth surface to paint on.

I use my electric nail drill all over the nail, especially near the cuticle because it needs to be as thin as possible there. I also use my nail file and buffer to smooth things out and get the shape I want. Like I said, if you watch those youtube vides that I linked, they will be extremely helpful!!

This is what my nails looked like after I finished with the acrylic and shaping

After you are done shaping the acrylic, it’s time to add polish!!


Hello! Either you came from the acrylic description above or you came straight here. If you scrolled straight to this section, you are going to want to make sure you start with clean nails.

Like I said before, you can totally use your own finds, these are just the ones that had lots of reviews and worked well for me!!

Okay! Gel nails are a lot easier than the acrylics. You’re essentially just painting your nails how you usually would!

The simple procedure that I followed was as follows:

Start with clean nails, buff out the nail gently and shape based on what you are looking for.

Paint one thin layer of base coat then cure for 60 seconds.

Paint a thin layer of desired color then cure for 60 seconds.

Paint another thin layer of color and cure for 60 seconds.

Paint with top coat and cure for 120 seconds.

Ta-da you’re done!!!

A few tips that I would recommend:

  • if you get any polish on your skin, make sure you take it off BEFORE you cure the polish otherwise it will be close to impossible to take off afterwards
  • remember that the only way for gel polish to dry is for it to be cured, so it won’t start to dry until you do that
  • I do one hand at a time because it’s easier and it really doesn’t take too long to do!
  • gel nails are super quick and are completely dried once they are cured so no wait time for them to dry!
  • using acetone to take them off will be your best bet, I file off all the shiny coat and then soak them in acetone then use a cuticle scraper to get them all off!

Well, I hope this helps if you’re trying to do a DIY salon manicure!! This takes me hours still to do and definitely requires some patience and practice, but I’m honestly so obsessed with them and it’s fun being able to do my own nails during this time!

If you have any questions. be sure to comment and I will get back to you!

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