My favorite gel products, polishes & processes + how to mix regular & gel polish - UPDATED!

You all know by now how much I love gel polish and all of the strength it gives your nails! This post is a list of my favorite gel products, polishes, and my favorite method of mixing regular and gel polish together for super strong nails that you can switch up whenever you want. Let’s get into it…

PS, anything that's underlined is a link!


Check out my NEW Builder Gel Application Course!

I also have an E-File Gel Manicure Removal & Builder Gel Application Course Bundle!

New To Gel Manicures? Check out these courses below!



Ultimate Mani Bundle: Prep + Regular Polish + Gel Polish Painting Courses



GEL LAMP: You need a light to cure gel products or else they will never dry ;) These two are affordable and work really well. I used them at nail school!



GEL REMOVAL CAPS: I love using these caps in place of foil because they’re so easy to use and they’re reusable!! 

PRIMER: This is my favorite primer! I wrote an entire blog post about why I love it and how it will change the way your polish adheres to your nails here.

My favorite prep tools: I have an entire started pack of my favorite prep tools here.

My favorite general gel tools/accessories: I also have a starter pack of random things I like for gel application here! Including brushes, files, buffers, remover pumps etc. here.

DRILL! I love using an electric drill for super fast and easy removal. I also have tiny drill bits for cuticle prep that are soo amazing at removing stubborn cuticle on your nail! This link has my favorite drill plus the drill bits I recommend here


Ok it’s no secret that I am a HUGE Kokoist gel nail polish fan. They are high quality, Japanese gel products. This means that they are pure gel (a lot of gel products you find online - like from amazon or even CND Shellac - are hybrid gel products, so they’re mixed with other ingredients and I don’t find them to be as thick, as easy to apply, or as pigmented!). Japanese gel is also fully pigmented, so when you get a colored gel, it is FULL color. I’ve used some other brands where you need like 4 coats of gel to get the color it’s supposed to be, and that’s just a waste of time!! 

If you want to read more about why I love gel + these polishes, I have an entire blog post about it HERE.

PS. Kokoist is having a memorial day sale and EVERYTHING is 20% off from 7/2-7/4!! I would love if you used my link to purchase so the brand knows what you came from me!! And I have a code for 10% off - it’s KARA10 that you can use outside of the Memorial Day sale :)

Here are my FAVE products from Kokoist and some that I’m dying to buy during the sale!!


Shop the entire collection here.

Peachy Base - My ALL TIME favorite base gel :) A sheer, peachy neutral

Strawberry Milk Base - A sheer, milky pink! 

Milky Base - Sheer, milky white!

Clear Builder Base (I JUST used this on a broken nail to fix the crack so I didn’t need to cut of my entire nail! I have a video about it HERE!


Ultra Glossy Non-Wipe Top Coat:  My GO-TO top coat. It's so shiny. And I love how it's non-wipe, this means that once it's done curing, it's not sticky. If it's sticky, you know that it's not done curing!!

Ultra Glossy Non-Wipe Rainbow Glitter Top Coat (it has the PRETTIEST shimmery gold mixed in!!) 

Ultra Glossy Non-Wipe Diamond Glitter Top Coat (the same but with silver sparkles!!)


These are really thick and PERFECT for nail art, like super fine details, lines, or designs! I always reach for these:

Maxi White

Maxi Black

Nail Thoughts Color Collection

I just love this entire collection!! You totally can’t go wrong if there is a color that you have your eye on :) But if you need a little help deciding, these are my favorites…

Overcast - Sheer milky white

Rose Quartz - Sheer milky pink

Venice Beach - HOT almost neon pink

My Favorite Red - The most perfect orange-y red

Isla Vista - A bright coral!! 

Window Breeze - almost periwinkle pastel blue

Butterfly Clips - Such a pretty fuchsia

Supernova - a sheer pink with iridescent shimmer!! Like Pink Goldfish but for gel (IYKYK!!)

Lemon Drops - a perfect pastel yellow!

Blue Raspberry - bright teal/blue - this is like my PERFECT blue polish! 

No, Yeah - talk about my FAVORITE color. This is like O&Js Jam, Please but in gel. It’s a GORGEOUS pinky toned lavender. 


I really love the brushes from Kokoist because they just FEEL so high quality and they work so well. If you want to play around with nail art with gel (it’s so much fun!!!) or you are looking for a new set of nail art tools, this is a great option!

Nail Thoughts Brush Trio - Striping brush, smoosh brush, application brush: 

I really want this Smoosh brush for fun abstract nail art! 

Ok so now you have your supplies, how do you apply the products and in what order? Let’s get into it! 

First off, I recommend watching my Manicure Prep Course to prep your nails perfectly for gel. I always say this! But your nails need to be prepped correctly or else your gel might not last, it might lift or chip and you won’t get the best results!! Read more about the course here and how it will change your mani game :) 

After your nails are prepped, you can apply your gel polish! If you don’t know how to apply it, or you want a littel guidance, check out my Gel Manicure Application & Removal Course to learn EXACTLY how!! 

You can also get both classes in a bunch and save $$$ here!

Once you have your gel on, you’re free to let it be, or you have the perfect palette for using regular polish to either switch up as much as you’d like, or add a little nail art on top!  Long story short, here is the order that you want to go in:

  1. Prep
  2. Gel Base Coat
  3. Gel Top Coat
  4. Regular Polish
  5. Regular Polish Top Coat

Then you can remove the regular polish with regular remover, even acetone, and you won’t mess up the gel underneath AT ALL! When you’re ready to remove the gel, you can follow the process in my Gel Course for easy removal, or fill it in by filing down to one layer left of gel, prepping and repeating the steps above!! 

Do you still have questions?! Drop them in the comments below and I will clarify or go into more details :) 

Happy Gel Polishing!!

*Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning I get a small % of your sale, at no cost to you! This helps me support this blog and my life :) Thanks so much for using my links and codes and your support!

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