How to do gel nails - at home

It has always been hard to achieve salon quality gel nails at home, but now doing your own gel polish manicure couldn’t be easier with the SensatioNail home DIY gel nail kit.

No more waiting around in a salon trying to squeeze in that last minute appointment, do it in your own time whenever it suits you.

You will be amazed at the quality of the nails you can create at home using this kit, it’s suitable for a complete novice and for professional users.

All you need is a flat surface and one of our SensatioNail starter kits, it takes about an hour for your first manicure (depending which kit you use) and once you have done it you will be hooked. With practice you can have salon perfect nails in around half an hour. Even better, you can do a pedicure with it too, ready for your holidays.

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How to do your Gel Nails

You can watch our application guide video here...

If you are using our newest kit - StripGel Starter Kit - follow the video instructions on this page as they differ slightly from our original kits. 

Make sure you are indoors in a bright/light room where you can see clearly, but keep out of direct sunlight and away from open windows as the product is light sensitive. Make yourself comfortable, your first manicure may take up to 60 minutes, but with each application you will get quicker.

Line up everything you need on a flat surface. Place a protective covering over the area you will be working on in case of spillage like a towel, kitchen towel etc. as the products could damage surfaces.

Plug your SensatioNail LED nail lamp in and switch it on.


Nail FileNail Cotton Pad

Prepare your nails

Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly. Then using the slanted side of the manicure stick, gently push back your cuticles. Doing this will give you a clean surface for the gel to stick to but also create a longer, even looking nail to work on.

If your cuticles are very hard to push back, you can soak them in warm water for a few minutes first.

Now it’s time to create the perfect shape to your nails. File the edge of your nails to the shape you desire. The most common shapes are square, round/oval and squoval. Another shape which is currently trending is the pointy/stiletto nail.

Once you have filed your edges it’s time to buff the surface with the pink side of the nail buffer/file. This will give the nails a dull look as its removes the shine, this only needs to be done gently and will help with the adhesion of the product. Pay attention to the sides of the nails and around the cuticle as this is where lifting may occur due to poor preparation.

Depending on the amount of filing you have done you can either wipe off the dust or re-wash your hands.

Next you need to decide which hand you will work on first as we don’t recommend doing all 10 fingers at once. The easiest way is to do 4 fingers, the other 4 fingers, followed by both thumbs.

With a lint free wipe clean the nails with some gel cleanser and allow to dry for 15 seconds. Why not try our Essentials Kit which contains all of your manicure basics.

Nail preperation is super easy with the SensatioNail Pro Manicure and Pedicure Kit. The kit includes shaping discs, filing cones, cuticle lifter, nail brush, polisher, adapter and dual speed hand held unit. Shop the Manicure and Pedicure Kit here.


Apply Gel Primer

Gel nail primer quite literally primes the nails - creating an extra sticky layer ready for the gel polish application.

Alternatively, our newest addition, StripGel Peel Off Basecoat can be used instead of Primer and for super easy removal when you are ready for your new colour!


Different types of nail will respond best to different amounts of primer. For example, healthy, oily nails will need full primer coverage. The drier your nails, the less primer you will need. Sometimes none at all! Use the guide here to identify your nail type and understand how best to apply gel primer for your nail type. The instructions below are a generalisation, it will depened on your nail type:

Apply in an ‘O’ shape around the nail (sometimes called a halo) or just across the tip of the nail. Use it sparingly, a little goes a long way and allow to air dry for 30 seconds.Nail Primer

Nail Tip

Apply the gel nail base coat:

Now on the 4 fingers (leaving the thumb out) apply a thin layer of the gel base coat, cap the end of your nails by running the brush along the tip, this will help prevent chipping.

When applying the base coat, do not touch the cuticles or skin at the side of the nails. If you do you can tidy it up with the manicure stick before curing. The base coat’s neatness will in turn affect the result of the colour application. SensatioNail is self-levelling so you can paint slowly and precisely if you need to - after a few seconds, any brush strokes will disappear. Once you are happy with the application, place your fingers in the LED nail lamp and cure for 15 seconds (the new SensatioNail LED lamp will come on automatically and flash after 15 seconds and turn off automatically after 30 seconds).

DO NOT be tempted to touch your nails; the product is still tacky as it allows each layer to stick to the next.

This step is not required if using the StripGel Starter Kit

Apply the gel nail polish colour

Now it’s time to apply your colour – choose from our great selection of SensatioNail Colour Gel Polishes. Firstly you need to shake the bottle (ensure the lid is on). You will apply it the same way you did your base coat - with a nice thin even coat capping the ends again. This time however you will cure for the full 30 seconds(the new SensatioNail LED lamp will come on automatically and flash after 15 seconds and turn off automatically after 30 seconds).

Depending on the depth of the colour you require, the amount of colour coats is up to you. We recommend 2 coats but some people like to use 1 coat for a very sheer look, or 3 coats for a very solid colour. This will likely vary depending on the shade you are using. Please ensure you cure each coat for the full 30 seconds.

Nail Colour

Nail Colour 2

Apply the gel nail top coat

Finally it's top coat time (the base and top coat are the same hence one bottle). Apply a thin layer over the colour coat and cure for 15 seconds. Be careful, make sure you have not touched the cuticles or the skin at the sides of the nails (tidy with the manicure stick again if you have).

Again, if you are using the StripGel Kit or  No Wipe Top Coat - this step is slightly different, find out more here

You will find with some colours (mostly deeper shades) that the top coat brush can pick up some of the colour. Don’t panic, this is normal and you can wipe the brush on a lint free wipe or some kitchen roll if you feel you need to before reinserting it into the top coat bottle.


Reveal your gel nails!

Now it’s time to reveal the stunning gel polish nails you have created in the comfort of your own home. With a clean lint free wipe and some gel cleanser wipe over each nail (no needed if you are using No Wipe Top Coat), this will remove the sticky moisture layer and allow you to see the final product. It is normal for a little colour to come off on the wipe, this will not affect the final result.

Your high shine gel polish is now complete.Now on to your next 4 fingers and then both thumbs, following the same process.

For pedicures, just follow the same process, doing 1 foot at a time.

Please visit our Facebook page and website for any help and advice you need. Take advantage of the thousands of SensatioNail users; they love to share ideas, hints and tips and they help each other with common questions and issues that you might have. Plus there are lots of pictures of great SensatioNail manicures to help you choose your next colour!

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