DIY Nails: How to win at life

I’ve recently taken up doing gel overlay on my nails at home. Yes, I have the “oven” and alles. I even watched Youtube videos to give myself a boost. I started off buying cheap gels just so that I could get practice and not feel like I’m wasting my money if I decide to “soak off” every few days. I did that for the first 4 times. Then I realized what a waste of time it was and oh the effort that goes into soaking off gel nail polish!

So me, being my multi-tasking self, attempted to do my nails while cooking a meal. Because, I mean I stick my fingers into the UV lamp and the gel is dry in 2 minutes. The only thing I didn’t consider was how very much divided my attention was. The disaster of curing a coat of gel over a wet coat. It’s a sight for sore eyes, I tell you. *Insert sulking emoji*

It hasn’t been very long, but I’ve already learnt a few lessons that might help you get started:

1. Do NOT try to peel off the gel in order to save time (or because you’re too lazy to buff)

Okay, so the cheap Chinese store gels come off quite easily if peeled, but it does some damage to your nail bed and, trust me, there are few things as painful as damaged nail beds. Unfortunately there’s no “quick” way to remove gel nail polish.

Sidenote: easiest(and safest) way to remove gel nail polish 
  • Using a very coarse buffer stick, buff your nails until the shiny topcoat is completely off and your nails look matte
  • Dip cotton wool in a generous amount of acetone and then place it on the nail (I cut cotton rounds in half – works best for me)
  • Secure by wrapping a small square piece of tin foil around your finger ends, covering the cotton wool completely so that it stays in tact.
  • I keep this on for about 40 minutes for results (this is the part where you can put on an episode or two of your favorite series)
  • Take off the foil by simply pulling it off your fingers in one go, pressing down a bit on the nail so you get the gel aswell. The gel should come right off. If it doesnt, use a wooden manicure stick(no metal please!) to scrape off the excess gel
  • Buff with a finer buffer stick to get the gel residue off your nail

2. Do NOT leave too much gel on the brush when applying.

I know I’m not the only one who prefers a thick overlay, but having the applicator brush drenched in gel will not give you this effect. In fact, once you stick your nails under the UV/LED lamp, that gel will go running. Leaving your cuticles now also gelled, meaning that the overlay will end up not lasting very long AND looking like a toddler did your nails. Rather apply a few thin coats to get that “thick” look and feel.


3. Do NOT try to multitask while doing your nails, EVER!

Unless you’ve got super ninja skills in doing 5 things at once perfectly, this always ends up in a mess. You tell yourself it’s possible because the gel cures almost instantly, thanks to your lamp. But you’re so distracted that you end up missing coats and doing top coats on a wet colour and in the end, you have “shebeen nails” (really terrible looking nails). Rather set aside that 45 minutes to an hour at a time and focus on making it pamper time for you.


4. As already mentioned in number 3 – take your time

So, the idea that doing this is a quick thing is an absolute myth. Yes, maybe after lots and lots of practice. But in the beginning, patience is your friend. Take your time and do it your way. Else you’ll touch your skin with the nail polish, or you won’t seal off the top coat properly, or your colour just won’t look consistent all over the nail. I promise you that it gets better with time, but start off by making sure you have nowhere to rush off to shortly after doing your nails. That just puts you under unnecessary pressure. Consider this a pamper session, then you’ll really make it one for the books.


I’ve been doing my own nails for about 6 months and I still don’t have enough confidence to do anybody else’s. Family is the furthest I’ve ventured out. I know, talk about being a perfectionist. But, these things take time. Who knows, maybe I’ll pop up a nail bar at the next festival around town,LOL! (Or not)

Have you considered adding this to your pamper session? I can help with a few basic questions you might have, else I’ll ask a friend 😉



  • Odette

    I also occasionally do my own gel nails. I’ve tried acrylic but it just doesn’t work for me. (couldn’t get it smooth. What gel polish do you use now? At the moment I’m using the cheap Chinese store stuff.

    • Deenah

      Hi Odette 🙂 I use the Planet Nails brand and I love it. They sell directly to the public and they are at the little complex behind Moffet on Main

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