I Got a UV Light for At-Home Gel Nails and I'm Never Going Back to Regular Polish

One of my bigger first world problems in life is that I cannot go a day without chipping my nails. I constantly have to touch them up the day after applying nail polish. After three days, I give up and just take it all off. Not only is it time consuming to constantly touch up, but the initial drying process takes forever. Even with a quick-dry top coat, I still manage to smudge my nails hours after painting them. Last year, I went on an adventure to try different hacks to make the polish last longer. While I found some tips that worked for me, my nails would still chip after a couple days. There had to be a better way.

A few months ago, I started watching a channel called SimplyNailogical on YouTube. The channel is run by a self-proclaimed "holo sexual" named Cristine Rotenberg. Although she constantly jokes about the lack of nail art on her nail art channel, every nail video she posts has a ton of applicable device for at-home nail artists. She uses a UV lamp for many of her tutorials and in one video, even explains how the lamps are inexpensive and easy to use. 

I've gotten gel manicures at the salon and they seemed to last way longer than normal nail polish, so I decided to give an at-home gel manicure a try. After receiving a UV lamp for Christmas, I bought a couple starter kits online. I was surprised at how inexpensive gel manicures sets are. If you are planning on buying online, opt for a set. You get a lot more gel polish for cheaper than buying individually and it gives you more colors to play with. Some kits include a base and top coat, as well as colors, so you don't need to buy them separately.

The UV lamp has been a miracle in my life. Although my nails can't hold up to the promsied two-week mark, the polish still stays on for days at a time. When they do come off, the polish tends to come off in one large peel, rather than little chips. I personally prefer this because it's easier to just repaint the whole nail than to try to blend new polish into old polish.

If you are planning on gel polishing at home, here are the steps I follow to keep my nails healthy and ensure the polish stays on:

1. Wipe each nail with a cotton pad soaked in acetone to remove oil, dirt and moisture. By removing these substances, the polish sticks to your actual nail instead of whatever is on it.

2. Apply a base coat to the nails on one hand (not including the thumbs) and cure it under the light for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other hand and do the thumbs separately. If you do the thumbs with your other nails, the polish will pool to one side of your thumbnail and make it too thick on one side.

3. Apply 2-3 coats of the gel color polish and cure for one minute after each coat. Work in thin layers to avoid bumps and pooling.

4. Apply a top coat and cure for another minure under the light.

5. Wait a minute or two to make sure the gel is 100% set. Some gel polishes have a layer you need to wipe off after curing. For bottles labeled "no-wipe," you can skip this step.

At-home gel nails are super easy, stay on longer than nail polish and will save you lots of money. You just need a few products to give you a manicure that lasts.