Creating UV Gel Nails at home

 UV gel is used more often than nail varnish because it lasts a lot longer and it is great for applying over false nail tips to secure them in place. It also makes your nails really shiny :)!


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What are UV gel nails?


Step by step instructions

Step 1 – Cleaning your nails

Step 2 – Preparation

Step 3 – Nail Dehydration

Step 4 – Applying false nail tips

Step 5 – Applying UV gel primer

Step 6 – Applying UV builder gel

Step 7 – Applying UV gel top coat


What are UV gel nails?
  • Once UV gel is applied and cured to your natural nail, the hardened gel can be designed just as your natural nail would be e.g. you can apply nail varnish and rhinestones etc. It comes in all different colours, even glitter colours.
  • There are two types of gels: light cured gels & no-light gels. The light cured gels need to be cured (hardened) under a UV lamp. The no-light gels do not need a lamp, instead they need a gel activator that can be brushed (or sprayed) on to the nails. Some types can actually be cured just by dipping your nails in water.
  • I personally use the UV gel which needs to be cured under the UV lamp (light cured). This is what I started out using as a very beginner and I found it really easy to use.


To create UV gel nails at home you are going to need:

1. Nail polish remover & cotton pad (to remove any old nail polish)
2. UV gel primer (the first clear gel used as a base coat)
3. UV builder gel (a gel that is generally thicker than the primer & top coat to give your nails a strong overlay – comes in a variety of colours)
4. UV gel top coat (another clear gel that is used to secure the whole design with a great shine)
5. Medium size brush (used to apply the builder gel)
6. UV lamp (to cure (harden) the gel)
7. Cleanser plus (to remove the sticky residue from your brush and nails after curing)
8. Cotton pad for the cleanser plus (lint free wipes are recommended so no annoying fluffy bits come off on to your nail)
9. Nail File (to dehydrate your natural nail plate before any gel is applied)
10. Cuticle pusher (part of the preparation)

All the essentials for creating UV gel nails

All the essentials for creating UV gel nails

I remember all of this equipment seeming like a lot when I started out. Luckily, you can get most of this stuff really cheap on eBay. Expensive makes are better, but I personally prefer to save money and use the cheap ones because they have always done the job ^_~


If applying nail tips then you will also need:

1. False nail tips

2. Nail glue

3. Acrylic nail cutter

Equipment needed if you're applying tips aswell

Equipment needed if you’re applying tips


Optional but still recommended:

1. Nail dehydrator (a liquid that you apply to your natural nail to remove moisture).

2. Cuticle cream (to hydrate/soften your cuticles at the end of the manicure)

3. Dusting brush (used to gently remove the dust created around your nail, using your fingers may add moisture back onto the nail surface)

4. Cotton bud (used to remove any UV gel off the skin before curing the gel under the UV lamp)

Optional equipment when creating UV gel nails

Optional equipment when creating UV gel nails


Step by step instructions


Step 1: Cleaning your nails

Your nails need to be clean, so remove any old nail varnish etc. you may have left on from previous pampering. Do this using nail polish remover and a cotton pad.


Removing old nail polish

Removing old nail polish

Tip: Rotating in small circles usually works best; especially when it’s that stubborn nail polish that doesn’t seem to want to come off! (You know who you are glitter polish ¬_¬)


Step 2: Preparation

– Your cuticles need to be gently pushed back, or cut depending on how much they have grown. This stops the UV gel from lifting near your cuticle. To do this you can use an orange wood stick or a metal cuticle pusher.

Push your cuticles back gently being careful not to cut yourself.

Push your cuticles back gently

– The tip (or free edge) of your nails should now be filed down or cut to your desired length.

Filing the free edge

Filing the free edge

– Finally, your nail plate needs to be gently filed to dry it out and get rid of any moisture – this is very important for the UV gel to adhere to your natural nail

Tip: These can be done in any order, but I would highly recommend filing your nail plate last so that you don’t accidentally add moisture back on to it when doing the other steps.

File your nails until they take on a white-ish colour

File your nails until they take on a white-ish colour


Step 3: Nail dehydration

Using your nail dehydrator, smooth a thin layer of liquid over your natural nail plate. It should only take a few seconds to dry. Important note – those who are also applying artificial nail tips need to apply them first before the dehydrator, otherwise it makes it very difficult for the tip to stay glued on to your natural nail. Once the tips are secured on your nail (step 4), it is safe to apply the nail dehydrator, but only apply it on top of your natural nail, not the tip.

Applying nail dehydrator

Applying nail dehydrator

I wrote this under the ‘optional’ equipment because I personally have never needed to do this – filing my nail plate to dehydrate it has always worked well for me, and you can do this before applying the tips. Let me know your personal preferences below in the comment box as I am interested to know whether this is just me :]


Step 4: Applying false nail tips

Those applying tips Visit lesson 5 if you need any help 🙂 – if you have been following the preparation from this article, then you will be able to start from step 4 over on the nail tip article 🙂


Step 5: Applying UV gel primer

Now that your natural nail plates (and false nail tips) have been dehydrated/filed, it’s time to apply the UV gel primer. Smooth a thin layer over your natural nail (don’t apply it to the artificial tip). The primer will help the rest of the manicure adhere to your natural nail.

Applying the UV primer

Applying the UV primer


  • Hold under your UV lamp for 2 minutes. I suggest 2 minutes because my 36watt lamp has a 120 second timer on it and the UV gel is always cured after this time.
    Using the UV lamp :)

    Using the UV lamp 🙂

  • I can’t say for sure with a 9watt lamp because I have never used one, but I would suggest tripling the 2 minutes just to be sure. You can always keep taking your nails out to test them. Please feel free to comment below if anybody has any advice when using the 9watt lamps 🙂

Now do the same for your second hand. There is no need to remove the sticky residue left behind from the UV gel primer, as more UV gel is being applied in the next step.


Step 6: Applying UV builder gel

Place the gel in the middle of your nail and gently spread upwards to the end of the tip (either yours or false). When spreading downwards, get it as close to your cuticle area as possible without touching any skin. The same goes for the side walls. If the gel gets on the skin, then it has more chance of lifting once it has been cured. Use the cotton bud to remove any gel off the skin before placing your hand under the UV lamp.


Those wearing tipsconcentrate on getting the gel thickest around the smile line because that’s where your nails will receive most pressure.


  • Do all 5 nails on one hand before putting your hand under the lamp, this saves time as you can do it all in one go. Tip – before putting your hand under the lamp, check none of the gel has spread on to your skin – if it has then use a cotton bud or the end of a cuticle stick to gently remove it.
  • Again hold under your lamp for 2 minutes (for 36watt lamp) and triple for a 9watt lamp.

Repeat the same process for your second hand. Just like last time there is no need to remove the sticky residue yet as more gel needs to be added.


Step 7: Applying UV gel top coat

Most UV gel top coats come with a brush already included. Using this brush (or one of your own) smooth a nice even layer over your nail, once again being careful not to touch any surrounding skin. You can make this coat as thick as you want, or you can even apply one, cure it, then apply another one etc.


Applying a UV gel top-coat


The sticky residue can now be removed (yay)! Apply a few drops of cleanser plus to your lint free wipe (or cotton pad) and smooth over all your nails until the stickiness has gone. I usually end up using a few wipes and a lot of cleanser plus (I hate the sticky stuff :(). Don’t worry about getting rid of all the residue as the rest will come off from washing your hands etc.

Removing the sticky residue

Removing the sticky residue

Once complete, some people like to also add a nail varnish top coat, just for extra protection and extra shine 🙂

You now have a beautiful manicure! ^_^



Two more helpful tips:

Tip 1: Applying some cuticle cream at the end of your manicure will prevent dryness and keep your cuticles soft and smooth.


Tip 2: The best way to clean your brush off at the end is by using the cleanser plus.

This was a long article so I may have missed things out. If I have then feel free to comment below with your own thoughts or questions 🙂

I am no professional at this, this is just the process that has always worked great for me and I am sure it will for you too :)!