Gel Nail For Beginners – Easy Step By Step Guide

Gel nail for beginners? For a natural, high-shine, and highly durable look that can outlast traditional nail polish styles, gel nails are a must-have. Recently, gel nails have risen in popularity due to their high-gloss look and natural resistance to chipping and damage. Coupled with their fast setting time, it’s no surprise they’re in such high demand. 


But what about doing gel nails? In this guide, we’ll discuss how gel nails are applied and how you can get started on your own.

What You’ll Need

There are a few things that you’ll need to get started. There are kits available that will include everything you need, but you might also opt to buy supplies individually. Either way, we’ll go over some supplies you might expect to find in a kit, and everything you’ll need to get started. 

A Curing Light

A curing light is an essential part of the gel process. After all, the quick setting time is one of the major advantages of gel nails over traditional polish, and here is where the magic happens. 


There are a ton of different lights on the market for this very purpose, and a few different types; there are traditional UV lights available, as well as newer LED lights. The LED lights have the advantages of power efficiency and speed and do not require bulbs which need to be changed. 

Cuticle Oil And Wood Sticks

You’ll need cuticle oil to keep your cuticles from drying out, and preferably a few wooden sticks that you’ll be able to use to gently push your cuticles back. 

Clippers And A File

You’ll need a good nail file before starting, so be sure you have one on-hand. You might also need clippers nearby if your nails need cutting.

A Nail Buffer

You’ll also need a good nail buffer to get started; having the smoothest possible surface on your nails will be essential for long lasting gel nails. 

Base Coat

This will be the first layer on your nail. Be sure to get a base coat specifically designated for gel nails. 


Top Coat

This is the uppermost layer of a gel manicure. The top coat will act as the armor for your nails, protecting them from wear damage. 

Gel Polish

This is the colorful part. There are a ton of options when it comes to gel polish, so finding the perfect color will be no problem.

  1. Preparing Your Nails

The first step is preparing your nails properly. Once you’ve applied a gel coat, you won’t be able to cut them or file them without risking damage to your new nails, so you’ll want to start by cutting and filing your nails until they’re a uniform shape and size. 


Next, apply cuticle oil to moisten your cuticles and keep them from drying out. When they’re softened, gently push them back using your wooden stick. This will keep the application area open and will also protect your cuticles from being damaged. 


The last part of prep is one of the most important. Now you’ll want to buff a very fine layer off your nails using a nail buffer. This will make them as smooth as possible, and perfect for applying a long-lasting gel coat! Once you’re finished buffing them, be sure to wipe them off to remove any dust left behind with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol will dry quickly so you can get started. 

  1. Applying The Base Coat

Applying the base coat is an essential step and it requires some care and attention. This is the layer that will adhere everything directly to your nails, and it’s also the bottom-most layer, meaning irregularities might compound on top of it. So, proceed with a light touch.


You’ll want this layer to be as thin and smooth as possible. After applying your base coat, dry your nails under your curing light—usually for about half a minute, but be sure to check the instructions that come with your light; different lights might have different recommended drying times, and traditional UV lights may have a longer curing time than their newer LED counterparts.

  1. Applying the gel polish

Now is when you actually apply the gel! Carefully apply your color of choice, and make sure to avoid painting your cuticles. You’ll want to do a few coats, based on the color you chose and appearance you’re going for, but usually no less than two coats. More coats translates to higher color visibility and less transparency, so this part depends on what you’re going for. Cure your nails under your curing light in between each coat, though, and be sure to clean any polish that’s spilled on your skin before putting your hand under the light. 


Again, you’ll want to cure them for about 30 seconds under a standard LED curing light, but be sure to check your instructions; older style UV lights may take longer—up to 2 minutes. 

  1. Applying The Top Coat

This is the last step in your gel nail for beginners guide! The top coat is the clear layer on top that will protect your new nails from unnecessary wear to ensure your gel nails last as long as possible. Once the gel polish layer is cured properly, you can begin to apply the top coat. Apply a thin layer of top coat, and then cure that as well. This will be your final cure, and again, it might range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on your specific curing lamp.


After the final top coat is cured, you may need to wipe them off with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. Top coats will specify whether or not they need to be wiped off to remove a sticky layer that forms as they cure. After that, you can apply some cuticle oil to keep your cuticles soft and happy and enjoy your guide to new gel nail for beginners! 


Gel nails are a great way to achieve long lasting, high shine, gorgeous results with nails, and since they’re so fast to dry, it’s no wonder they’re so popular. Being in such high demand they’re also a great place to start practicing the art of manicuring! We hope you enjoy practicing gel nail for beginners!

If you’ve been thinking about starting a career in manicuring and don’t know where to start, Career Beauty College offers a manicuring program that can help you get started in less than a year, so be sure to reach out to speak with an advisor today!