As I’ve been addicted to Youtube, I’m come across comedy channels like Jenna Marbles, Simply Nailogical, and a number of beauty related channels… Including Nail Career Education which is the most relaxing content if you’ve had a hard day’s work.
Now, I have a very hand intensive job… taking exam gloves on and off all day, and poking and prodding at people. I’m artsy, but I’m not a nail tech and I have no intention of becoming one. Due to my job…
Traditional nail polish lasts about 3-5 days with chips and cracks.
Not Worth my Time.
But then I heard about Gel Polish. (This is when you guys are like… Rica gel polish has been around for a long time). I know I know. But part of being artsy fartsy is that you want to do everything yourself. So after adding a gel lamp to my wishlist. Here’s my experience and cost break down of doing nail art with gel at home.
Gel Polish vs Classic Nail Polish
I did some basic research on Amazon as well as my local Salons to compare the cost of doing your own nails…
*Some Nail Youtubers will claim that they can make their regular polish manicure last for up to 2 weeks! Unfortunately, even following their product recommendations I could not make them last for more than 3-5 days. Keep in mind this has everything to do with your lifestyle. I participate in high impact work outs 2-3x a week, work in the medical field dealing with patients, and cook almost all my meals… so my nails get a beating.
Gel manicures have a high investment to purchase equipment if you want to do it at home. At minimum you need the follow items:
1) A Nail Lamp
Things to keep in mind when buying a lamp:
Is it wide enough to fit all fingers?
Is it LED (most common), UV (less common), or both?
Is it low power (Watts) and will take forever to cure?
Obviously, Traditional Nail polish does not require a lamp…. Also a lamp will not cure traditional polish or make it dry any faster. I tried.
2) Gel Nail Polish of desired color, base, and top coat.
3. Removal tools for Gel Polish
If you’re a nail polish lover you probably have some form of acetone at home… but to get gel off you need 100% to get this strong stuff off. If you’re cheap you can use aluminum foil wrapped around your fingers to soak your nails in the acetone on a cotton pad. I got these cute nail clips on Amazon that are reusable.
So let’s total how much I spent on creating my DIY gel nail station (even though it’s Christmas and I got a lot of this stuff as a gift on my wishlist let’s add it all up)
DIY Gel Manicure
Base and Top Coat: $9.99
Polish 6 pc Color Set: $18.99
100% Acetone: $8.99
Nail Clips: $7.99 (Optional)
Total: $67.97 – $89.95
Compared to my Traditional Manicure
Base and Top Coat: $12.97
Salley Hansen 6 pc Color Set: $20-$32.00
Regular Acetone: $5.35
Total: $38.32 – $50.32
And if we revisit the chart we can see that an average Gel Polish application WITH removal can cost $40-60 (Yes they charge extra for removing the polish)… and Regular polish manicure can be around $20 at the Salon.
If you look at the numbers doing your gel polish at home can be worth your money after 1 or 2 applications! (Prices will obviously vary with the type of Nail Shops in your area).
This cost break down does not include any cuticle work, paraffin treatments, and the Spa-like experience. I also already own a cuticle set to push back my cuticles… so I didn’t include that in the calculation. If you don’t have the skill or patience to figure out how to groom your nails… maybe this isn’t for you… So let’s discuss some of the other reasons that would sway you towards or away from DIY Gel nails.
Reasons you shouldn’t invest in DIY Gel Tools
1.) You’re bad at painting inside the lines
If you’re not artistic…. Have never been able to paint inside the lines. You probably won’t get professional level results. Common sense but just thought I’d point that out. BUT, if you love art, love drawing, love DIYs in general then getting a DIY Gel Kit might be perfect for you! They also sell kits with a lamp if you’re not willing to do the research on different products (that I just did for you)
2.) You’re extra sensitive to UV rays
People are always concerned due to rays emitted by the Gel Lamp. Gel Lamps emit UVA rays (and not UVB) so they can’t burn you, but they have the same rays that are associated with cancer and early aging. (Think UVA, A is for Aging, and UVB, B is for Burns). If you are taking certain medications that make you photosensitive, have very low levels of pigmentation, or have concerns about the skin around your hands… maybe this isn’t the thing for you. Overall, these lamps are safe, and I might use a handcream that doubles with SPF before using this lamp more regularly.
3.) You don’t have the patience to remove them carefully
A more common “risk” (Yes even more common than hand cancer) of doing gel nails at home is the risk of ruining your nail beds. The gel is BINDED to your nail. You have to buff the top layer of the gel (but not down to the nail itself) and then SOAK the acetone off. DO NOT scrape at your nail to get the polish off even in the last step. If you’re not confident in this step maybe pay a professional to preserve your nails.
Overall I LOVE my gel lamp and polish. I hate the look of chipping nail polish, and I’ve always liked to paint on various canvases… My face… actual canvases… my nails… If you’re a artsy DIYer like me who loves having finished nails I would highly recommend it.
I could also customize my nails to my daily life… leaving certain nails longer and other nails short so I can do my job… Add gems strategically so it doesn’t get in my way. Little things!
I will say that I did spend more money after getting my kit on gemstones, nail stripping tape…. nail vinyls… I can’t stop. But honestly I would do that for regular polish as well.
Would you do a DIY gel manicure at home?
As always stay happy and healthy… and Happy New Year
******FULL DISCLOSURE: This are my personal experiences and thoughts. I am not being paid by the brand or the company to review this product or talk about any claims. This product was not sent to me. Links in this post are a part of the amazon affiliates program.*******