I've tried using gel nails from the same company that makes my gel nail system. I use Sephora OPI Gel At-Home Color System, I love the colors and what they have to offer, but for $20 a bottle, it's not worth the splurge, especially for something I'm constantly changing like my nail color. To save money, I combine them. Even if I don't work in a salon anymore, I still remember my old trade and after doing a few failed hacks, I found one that works best. Gel nails are made of a heavier oligomer, a hard flexible resin chemical that makes gel nails last longer. It's important to prep nails for having this heavier coat on nails, but ultimately, if it's done correctly, it doesn't matter how they're prepped.
- Apply regular base coat (this is personal favorite). Let it dry completely. It has to dry for this to work.
- Apply the color of nail polish you want. Again, it has to be completely dry. I usually wait about an hour, as if I'm really just doing my nails.
- Apply a gel nail top coat. Cure for 30 second in any nail light as long as it's a UV light.
- Remove the sticky debris with gel nail cleanser (like this one).
That's it! It's one extra step than doing nails and I've noticed they've lasted me as long as gel polishes, 10-14 days. I've recently cleaned out my nail polishes and the only ones I've kept so far are my Deborah Lippmann and Palate Polishes. Oh! And don't forget to wear your UV nail gloves and some sunscreen before using the UV light.