Gel nail Polish is a great way to have wonderfully trendy nails that last for much longer than regular nail polish. It's not as simple and the process itself can be rather challenging and plagued with disaster with chipping and lifting.

We have put together a comprehensive how to guide to get the most out of your gel nail polish kits to ensure you come away with wonderfully, trendy nails.

It’s a good idea to have an understanding of the nail structure so that it is clear when we describe the different parts of the nails in the guide.


Nail Structure

Fingernail Anatomy

The Free Edge

The end of the nail plate where you cap when applying the Gel nail Varnish, Base coat and top coat.

The Nail Plate

This is the visible part of the nail that sits on top of the nail bed. It is made by Keratinisation; the transformation of living cells to hard, dead cells, and it consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur and nitrogen. This is the section that is buffed and cleansed to ensure there are no oils or debris to prevent any lifting or chipping

The Lunula

The lunula is the crescent-shaped whitish area of the bed of a fingernail. The lunula is the visible part of the root of the nail.

The Cuticle 

The cuticle is a layer of clear skin located along the bottom edge of your finger. This area is known as the nail bed. The cuticle function is to protect new nails from bacteria when they grow out from the nail root. The area around the cuticle is delicate. It can get dry, damaged, and infected.

The Mantle 

This is the deep fold of skin at the base of the nail where the nail root is embedded. It is also known as the nail fold.

The Hyponichium 

The hyponychium is the area of epithelium, particularly the thickened portion, underlying the free edge of the nail plate on the nail.

The Nail Grooves

These are the grooves on the skin at the sides of the free edge, and the nail follows them as a guideline when it grows.

The Nail Walls

This is the cutaneous fold overlapping the sides and proximal end of the nail.

The Nail Bed

The nail bed is the skin beneath the nail plate. Its is made of two types of tissues: the deeper dermis, the living tissue which includes capillaries and glands, and the epidermis, the layer just beneath the nail plate, which moves toward the fingertip with the plate.

The Matrix

The nail matrix is the area where your fingernails start to grow. The matrix creates new skin cells, which pushes out the old, dead skin cells to make your nails. As a result, injuries to the nail bed or disorders that affect the matrix can affect your nail growth


Equipment Required

There are a fair number of products and tools you will require to ensure you can follow the process to have the best nails available. You can get many as bundles such as Gel Nail Essentials and Gel Nail Polish Kits.

Here is a list of everything you will need:Equipment Required

  • Gel Nail base coat 
  • Gel Nail top coat 
  • Gel Nail Cleanser
  • Gel Nail Remover
  • Gel nail polish Colours
  • UV light 36-watt or LED Lamp
  • Gel Nail bonder/Primer (Optional)
  • Cuticle Oil – Daily Use
  • Lint-free nail wipes 
  • Cuticle Pusher
  • Gel Nail Buffer
  • Nail File
  • Cuticle Sticks


Nail Preparation

It is Fundamental to the process to properly and effectively prepare your nails and cuticles to ensure that your gel colours adhere properly and have a lot more staying power for a longer period.

Prepare your nails by pushing back the cuticles with a cuticle pusher and filing to desired shape. I use a stainless steel cuticle pusher. The cuticle is the dead skin that attaches to the nail plate at the base of the nail, and it needs to be properly pushed back and removed from the nail so that your gel polish colours can adhere properly.  If you apply gel polish over the cuticle you will almost definitely have premature lifting around the edges.

The goal here is to keep the nails free of oils or debris during the preparation stage and if you are going to use a cuticle softener, ensure it is oil free.

Gently remove the shine from nails using a nail buffer. This will help loosen any remaining dead skin from the nail plate. Be sure to buff the entire nail plate from edge to edge. We use

Use a lint-free wipe and cleanser to cleanse the nail after buffing. We use our Gel Nail Varnish Cleanser. Ensure these are oil free and that you clean the entire nail from edge to edge. If you are going to use an alcohol solution, make sure it is 99% pure to ensure the nail plate is properly dehydrated and free any oils, this will aid in optimal adhesion of your nail polish colours.

If you regularly experience issues with chipping or premature lifting, then you can make use of a nail gel primer, which will help the gel nail colours adhere to the nail. Its important to remember that the primer should only be applied where you experience lifting or chipping on the nail. Applying to the entire nail area might result in difficulty removing this. Ensure that the primer is completely dry before proceeding to the next step.


Application of Gel Nail Base Coat

Applying the Gel Nail base coat is, in essence, a simple step, but it needs to be done correctly and neatly or this will affect the gel colours. How neatly and accurately you apply the base coat will in turn affect the application and look of the gel polish. One key point to consider is to prevent coating the cuticle or skin around the nails.

Apply a thin layer of the gel base coat, and cap the end of your nails by running the brush along the tip - this will help prevent chipping. Ensure you do not apply too thickly or else the Gel Nail lamp won’t be able to penetrate the layer all the way to effectively cure the coat (this applies right through the gel nail colours and Top coat) 

Once you are happy with your nails, the application of the base coat and it all looks neat and level, then you can proceed to curing the base coat under either an LED Gel Nail Lamp or UV Gel nail lamp. Place your fingers under the desired lamp and cure as follows:

UV Nail Lamp: 120 Seconds

LED Nail Lamp: 90 Seconds

Once cured as per the above suggested times, be sure not to touch your nails and they will still be tacky, ready for the next layer to be applied (Gel Nail Colour).


Applying your Gel Nail Polish

The secret is to apply a thin layer of your chosen colour, evenly and avoiding the cuticle area. Use short strokes, as these will be easier to control.Gel Nail Polish

Cap the edge. This will prevent the gel polish from lifting and should be done on every coat. Wipe away any excess polish that may have gotten onto the skin before you cure it.

Once you are happy with your gel coat then cure as follows:

UV Nail Lamp: 120 Seconds

LED Nail Lamp: 90 Seconds

Repeat the above a 2nd or even third time all with very thin layers of colour so that it cures evenly all the way through.


Gel Nail Polish Top Coat

As with all the other layers, be sure not to coat the cuticles or the skin surrounding the nails. Apply a thin layer, evenly over the colour. Use short strokes, as these will be easier to control. 

Cap the edge. This will prevent the gel polish from lifting and should be done on every coat. Wipe away any excess polish that may have gotten onto the skin before you cure it. 

Once you are happy with your gel polish top coat then cure as follows:

UV Nail Lamp: 120 Seconds

LED Nail Lamp: 90 Seconds

There a number of different top coats on the market such as Matt, no wipe and regular. Try experiment with the different types to find what works for you.


Gel Nail Polish Removal

Equipment RequiredGel Nail Polish Removal

There are a few essentials you will need to remove your gel nails polish:

Here is a list of everything you will need:

  • Gel Nail Remover 
  • Foil Remover Wraps
  • Stainless Steel Cuticle Pusher
  • Nail File
  • Cuticle Sticks

There are two methods to Remove Gel Nail Varnish

Method One:

Pour a small amount of nail gel polish remover liquid on to the cotton pads on the foil wraps, then wrap around your finger with the soaked pad on your nail bed. Leave them on for 10-15 minutes

Remove using a wriggling movement turning the foil wrap from side to side until it has worked its way up and off the nail. If some residue is still on the nail, use a cuticle pusher and gently slide this away (do not scratch it off as this causes damage to the nail bed) or use a cotton pad soaked in nail gel remover and wipe over each finger to remove any remaining residue

Method Two:

Gently file the surface of the gel nail varnish to break the seal and remove the shine. 

Soak nails in a bowl filled with a small amount of nail gel remover liquid for 10-15 minutes.

Remove your hands from the bowl, the gel will have become soft and you can gently file it away or slide it off using cuticle stainless steel pusher.



  • Shake nail polish colours well before use. Gel nail polish has a unique formula that requires shaking before each use. If you shake your gel polish before use this will allow an easier and an even application. You don't need to shake the base coat or top coat, only the colours.
  • When applying the gel, try to avoid the cuticle area – this can lead to lifting and peeling.
  • To clean up mistakes, use a thin brush dipped in acetone to clean up the cuticles and nail edges.
  • Use very thin even coats - thick coats can cause lifting and the urge to pick as well as cause the gel to not cure properly.
  • Cap the top edge of your nail to prevent lifting at the top of the nail.
  • Use a bonder/primer on your nails before you apply the base coat– this will help prevent lifting. The bonder makes removal extremely difficult if you use it over the whole nail. You can also apply it on the area where you experience the most lifting.
  • Apply a cuticle oil after gel application as acetone from the removal process can dry out your nails

You can create designs that are fun, creative and bring out your personality. There are many gel nail polish products out there to inspire your creativity such as glitters, gel polish nail art, colour changing polishes, art brushes…etc. Try your hand at them all and see what works for you.