The Ultimate Guide To Making Your Gel Manicure Last!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about gel polish recently and I wanted to create blog post to compile ALL of my tips for getting your gel manicure to last!

If your manicure is lifting or chipping after just a few days, hopefully this will be helpful! There are sooo many factors that go into making your gel last, so make sure to read this whole post and see which items you might be missing in your process, or maybe what you need to add to make it last! Let’s get into it!

Prep work:

This is probably the most important part of the gel manicure process! If you don’t prep your nails well/enough, your polish can lift or not adhere correctly. When prepping, make sure to do the following: 

  • Remove the cuticle from the nail surface & surrounding areas
  • Buff away any shine with a sponge buffer. Be sure not to buff *too* much. If your tips are too thin, this can cause lifting
  • Always cleanse and dehydrate with alcohol to removal all debris & oils 
  • These are all of my favorite prep tools here in my Amazon Shop!!
  • This is my tried & true manicure prep process! I always do a totally dry manicure, which means there are really no liquid elements involved except the alcohol for cleansing. I love this process because it keeps my nails dehydrated/dry which helps the gel adhere better!

Product selection:

Not all gel / acrylic is right for everyone! I have a blog post all about this topic that explains why this is, and how to know which nail product would work best for your nail type. Make sure to read it here if you’re curious about learning more! 

  • I’m a broken record here but I love using Kokoist products. They’re pretty much all I use because they’re high quality, pure Japanese gel, they are made with “better for you” ingredients (they’re 5-free), I’ve never developed any allergies from them, and the longevity/wear is just amazing! 
    • I know alot of people are interested in starting their own gel journey at home, but not sure if they want to invest much in products, but I think a major part of gel not lasting/wearing well is all about the gel you’re using! As you know, I’m not a big fan of random gel brands from amazon, unless you get a personal recommendation from someone who says it wears well. I have heard from a bunch of people that their gel doesn’t last and I ask what gel they’re using and it’s a brand from amazon that just doesn’t seem reliable. If you really want to have a positive experience with gel, I HIGHLY recommend getting some Kokoist products and testing out the process with the best quality gel you can get, IMO :) It’s available without a license, so DIYers can buy it too! 
    • If you want to just try out the bare minimum from Kokoist, I highly suggest the Megastick Base Coat, a color or two from the NTxKokoist collab, and the Ultra Glossy Non-Wipe Top Coat. If you want to try builder gel, I love the NTxKokoist Builder Base Gels, which are a builder gel, a base coat, and a color all in one! I have way more info in this blog post: Builder Gel Master Post!
    • Make sure to read this blog post to learn more about my Kokoist favorite too. And use my code KARA10 for 10% off! 

Proper application: 

  • If you’re using builder gel, make sure to add a structured apex to provide strength & longevity. Builder gel is thicker than most soft gels, so adding an apex gives it the structure it needs to not lift!
  • Always be sure to cap the tips with each layer of polish
  • If you get any polish on the cuticle or sidewall areas, clean it up before curing with a clean up brush. Pooling will lead to peeling and lifting almost immediately
  • If you’re using colored polish, make sure to apply thin coats so they cure properly. 
  • And be sure you’re using a lamp that’s strong enough to cure a full gel manicure! I recommend a lamp with a mirrored base. I just feel like the light is able to reflect and cure the nails better than a lamp without a base at all.
  • Here are all of my go-to recommendations for gel manicures tools & products!
  • Be sure to check out my gel manicure application tutorial course here if you’re new to gel!
  • Also, I have an entire course detailing how to apply builder gel here. It shows you exactly how to build and apex for a long lasting & beautiful builder gel manicure!

After care:

Caring for your nails is extremely important! It can really make your nails look better during the life of your manicure and help your nails get stronger for your next manicure too! 

  • Never ever peel off your gel. If you do, your next manicure might not last as long since your nails are weaker. 
  • I’ve talked about how important properly removing your gel manicures is, I even dedicated an entire post to it! Make sure to read it to learn all about how to remove your gels safely.
  • Hydrate with cuticle oil & hand cream daily to keep your nails flexible! Put the cuticle oil all over your nail, around your free edge and the skin around it.
  • Never use your nails as tools. Use a box cutter or can opener instead! 
  • I like to wear gloves when I’m cleaning or doing dishes to avoid drying out my hands/nails and exposing them to too much water. 

I hope some of these tips are helpful! As you can see, there are so many things to keep in mind to get your gel manicure to last. But over time, these will all become second nature and your manicures will look even better than the last one! If you’re struggling with any of the above items, make sure to check out my tutorial courses for thorough demonstrations. They’re such a great way to learn how to do a gel manicure, or how to improve yours if you already know the basics, I promise you will learn something new that really clicks to make them better!

If you still have questions or issues, drop a comment or send me a DM! 

Thanks for reading :) 

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