Nail game for beginners

I have been doing my nails for over 20 years now. I am not a professional or an expert but I wanted to write this for some of you who are considering doing your own nails at home. I do it myself because I like it and because it’s convenient for me to do it at home while my baby is sleeping and older kids are at school. Also because I am paranoid about catching some sort of disease from poorly sterilised tools, especially with pedicure ( call it motherly paranoia or germophobia , whatever). Did you know that the pedicure bath must be running for a full hour on a cleaning mode with cleaning detergent before it’s properly sterilised between clients (the jacuzzi type). Now have you seen that done? Here you go 😉

Gold leaf on hard gel

Over the years I have tried almost everything from acrylic, bio gel, fiberglass, gel polish or shellac, most recently SNS and polygel. I research and learn techniques from YouTube videos. Because I have been doing it for such a long time I have steady hands (yes both). It’s really all about practice!

Here is what I would recommend for a beginner.

Gel polish aka shellac aka veneer is the best invention since sliced bread. Easy to apply like regular nail polish. Thanks to its popularity it is now very inexpensive. Last up to 3 weeks. Easy to remove with acetone polish remover and metal or bamboo scraper. The whole system usually consist of nail prep, bonder (optional), base coat, colour and top coat (shiny or matt, wipe or no wipe). You will need a lamp to cure it but you can get inexpensive one on eBay (£12). I recommend LED over UV because it’s smaller and quicker. Also do a proper manicure and nail prep before you apply gel polish (tutorials on YouTube) because it will look nicer and last longer. My favourite brand, Cuccio, has a gorgeous range and it’s perfect consistency not to mention amazing price (£8).

Now if your nails are longer or you are planning to letting them grow you have to remember that they will break no matter what at some point! There is also product called brush on hard gel (also available on eBay, mine is by BlueSky) which is basically a thicker, transparent version of gel polish which you would apply before the colour but after the prep and base coat. It will make your nails hard and thicker but still naturally looking and thinner than acrylic. It’s self leveling so remember to keep your hand straight when you cure it in lamp.

Another interesting recent invention is a dip powder. There are various brands available on the market. SNS is my favourite. It’s like an acrylic powder but you dip your painted with base, wet nail in and it creates a lawyer. Keep in mind that this will coat your nail equally on the whole surface so your nail will look wider. The whole process creates a thicker lawyer then the gel polish. Super easy to use when you follow instructions and NO lamp required. It just air dries. What I don’t like about it is that it’s hard to remove. You use acetone but it takes long time so I would recommend combining with rotary nail file but if you are not experience this can be very difficult and messy. The powder are mid price range £15 for a box plus 3 other products: base, activator and top coat. Another downside that the box will last you forever so make sure you really love the colour.

Poly gel is a mix between gel and acrylic. It comes in a tube and it is super thick. Very limited, natural colours so if you want something fancy this is not it. Y\ou can use it as base to create something else or on longer nails. You can either use the forms to apply it onto the nail or a brush. I found it more difficult to apply with forms as it’s easy to create an air bubble and you don’t want that. You can better control thickness and shape you want your nails to be with a brush. The lamp is required for this as well. It’a one lawyer application process. Can be removed with acetone but also takes a bit longer than gel polish.

You might say “but I am not very good with painting my own nails”. There are a lot of very forgiving designs. Anything on transparent background will be easy. Foils, polka dots (special toll which is so easy to use and cheap), leopard print, abstract designs (so in atm)and even tortoise shell effect is very good for beginners. Lighter or nude colours will always less visible then dark or vibrant.

Finally few quick tips:

I buy most of my stuff either from eBay, Amazon or

Always follow instructions or video for a full tutorial.

If you go outside the line use brush to fix it and not a q-tip.

Prep your nail very well if you want your mani to last.

You don’t need to file down you nail a lot just remove the shininess with a very fine paper file (metal or glass ones are only to create a shape).

Practice makes perfect!

3 thoughts on “Nail game for beginners

  1. I love this post!! it’s just what I needed. Wanted to start doing nails myself a long time ago but didn’t know what to start with….. instead of booking, re-booking, canceling and then booking again ( mom life 🙂 ) and finally spending so much money on them. Now I bought exactly what you mentioned- the LED lamp, the base + top and some lovely Cuccio veneers on Amazon- can’t wait to receive them and start myslef!

    PS. Would love to see a post on how to wash/ refreshed sweaters, hats, scarves made of wool- especially from cashmere and alpaca.



    Liked by 1 person

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