This common mistake could be ruining your at-home gel manicure

The feeling of having newly-painted gel nails is only matched by that of a fresh blow-dry – it makes you feel just that little bit more polished (pun intended) and like you can take on the day.

But salon prices can be steep and the endless circle of gel, remove, repeat means the beauty treatment can quickly add up. So it’s no wonder lots of us are turning to at-home options, and when the quality of the products on the shelves is as good as they are now, it’s a great money-saving alternative.

Manicured nails
Alamy

When graduating from swiping on a standard colour and top coat to applying gel nail polish though, the process is a lot more complex, and therefore, there’s more chance of things going wrong.

First things first, you need to have a good quality LED lamp (there are plenty of great affordable ones on Amazon) and gel polish.

Then, as long as you follow the instructions (usually a case of applying a base coat, three coats of polish and then a top coat, while ‘curing’ each layer under the lamp), you should end up with super shiny salon-worthy nails that will last for up to three weeks – provided  you don’t peel them off before then, a major no no as doing so will damage the surface of your nail.

Woman having her nails done
Alamy

However, a lot of first-time at-home gel appliers make one significant mistake, which leads to larges bubbles forming under the surface, causing an unsightly appearance on the nails you’ve just spent so long painstakingly painting.

It’s all to do with how much polish you apply, and the trick is, you actually need much less than you think. While you might be used to piling on regular nail polish to achieve that thick, manicured look and opaque colour, gel nail polish actually only wants applying in very thin layers.

Red nails
Alamy

Celebrity manicurist Gina Edwards recently explained to POPSUGAR that, ‘thin layers are key. If you apply thick layers this gives the gel too much flexibility to lift within the layers, causing air pockets and then peeling.’

NYC-based nail stylist Elle elaborated on this theory, saying: ‘Opaque colours need thinner layers because the photo initiators on the bottom do not see the light in order to cure.’

So it’s all to do with the way the LED lamp cures the polish, as it needs to be able to ‘see’ the colour pigments within each layer. Otherwise the result will be a hardened top layer with the bottom layers never truly setting, causing bubbles of still-liquid polish to be floating underneath. You have been warned!