At-Home Gel Polish Manicures

Ask any lady if she likes having nice looking nails and she'll most likely say, duh and yes please! I have 3 large cosmetic bags chock full of different nail polishes with around 90% of them being some shade of pink...because, you can never have too much pink for your nails amiright?!  So as much as I love sitting in the massaging pedi chair at a nail salon, I can't really justify spending the extra $120+ a month on weekly manicures and that doesn't even count pedicures!  I can make a pedicure last awhile because I've gotten the right tools and techniques down so that the polish stays put for awhile or until I change my mind and want a different color :)

My fingernails are a different story altogether.  These hands take a beating: wrangling children, bathing children, cooking, cleaning, digging boogers out of writhing noses (don't worry...I wash my hands afterward) and add on to that, our water is beyond awful in this area so that makes them even worse.  My regular polish would last a couple days on average before it started to chip or lose its luster.  I like having my nails painted!  I feel like it dresses at least one part of me up if the rest is a little ho-hum and disastrous looking.  I had my first gel manicure done when I was pregnant with Selah and love love loved it!  However, you were looking at around $35-40 with tip each time and again, I'd rather be spending my money elsewhere.

So on my 47th trip to Target one week, I spotted the Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Kit and decided to give it a try.  It comes with everything you need, including a color.  Mine came with a deep magenta in Wine Not.  I probably did not do the best job the first time around but let me tell ya, that polish did not budge for a good 10 days before I got sick of the color and wanted a change.  No chips, minimal lifting on the sides, super shiny and that's all due to my sloppy hand at times.  This whole kit is around $60 and is well worth it if ya ask me!

Well, fast forward a ridiculous amount of time and some trial runs with cheaper polishes that were cheap for a reason (can you say all 10 nails lifting off in one piece within the first 4 hours???), I became a little disenchanted with my gel polishes.  I was going through a cheapskate phase where I didn't want to spend the $13ish per bottle of gel color but I was also tired of having hands that were resembling a construction worker.  So I sucked it up and went in search of better quality (and of course higher priced) gel polishes.  The Sally Hansen colors do their job but the color 'swatch' on the box and the lid aren't an exact representation of the color.  Like at all.  Do a Google Image search of the color you have in mind to get a better idea of the color.  Another brand I found that has good coverage, long staying power, a HUGE bottle and around $8-9 a bottle is the IBD Just Gel brand.  I'm seriously impressed with this brand to say the least.

Okay, so on to the deets for getting the best gel manicure possible!  You'll need to gather all your mani items:
* Manicure tools (files, cuticle trimmer, cuticle pusher, orange wood stick for removing stray polish)
* Cuticle remover gel/cream/whatevertheheckitis
* Base coat
* Polish color
* Top Coat
* LED light
* 99% Isopropyl alcohol (I'll explain why later)
* Cotton balls
* Cuticle oil

Ok, so get started on the shape you'd like your nails to be; whether that be with clippers or a file.  My nails grow crazy fast in between manis so I usually resort to the clippers and then file them smooth.  Now on to the removal of the cuticle if you so desire.  I always remove mine because of a few reasons: my skin is super dry, my cuticles are super dry and grow really fast and look bad and thus add to the awesome construction worker look.  I picked up my cuticle remover and softener at Sally Beauty for under $3.  You just rub that bad boy on your nails then take the cuticle pushed and gently push your cuticles back a bit. If you know what you're doing, you can pull out the nippers and remove the excess cuticles.  It definitely takes some practice not maiming yourself with these things but I like the way it makes my fingers look afterward.  Now buff your nails with the buffing block.  Nothing too crazy; just enough to rough up the nails a bit.

Okay, wash your hands and then take a cotton ball and pour a little of the alcohol on it (or one of the nail cleanser pads that came with the kit) and clean off your nails with that.  The alcohol removes any dirt, oil or grimy gunk off them so the polish can better adhere to your nail.  This bottle cost me around $18 and I've barely made a dent in it.  Great purchase.

Nails all trimmed up and less construction worker-ish.

Now it's time to polish up!  Make sure you complete one hand at a time.  This creates less margin for error, trust me.  Add one, thin coat of the base coat to each nail.  Take the pointy end of the orange wood stick and remove any of the base coat that got onto your skin.  Also, make sure you remove any excess off the sides of your nail.  This will help keep the polish from lifting off your nails.  Put your 4 fingers into the LED light and hit the button once.  Each light cycle is 30 seconds.  Then do your thumb for another 30 seconds.

On to the color!  How many coats you do depends on the color you choose.  Darker colors (like the color I chose for this manicure, Sally Hansen Pat On The Black) take 3-4 coats to be fully opaque.  Make sure to run the brush over the ends of your nails to help with chipping and for a more finished look!  Clean up any stray polish and pop your nails in the light after each coat for one cycle.  Do this after each cycle.

Now top coat.  Again, make sure you apply a thin coat and clean up the sides and underneath your nail.  Sometimes I'll add a second layer of the top coat if I'd like a thicker polish look.  Then cure it in the light.  Depending on the color of the polish, you can hit the light again if it's a darker color.

Okay, you're almost there!  Now, take another cotton ball, put some alcohol on it and run this over every nail.  This will help remove the sticky residue that comes with the gel polish process.  You should now have a super shiny and strong gel maincure!  I used the Sally Hansen Pat On The Black color which is a really dark vampy wine color; similar to Essie's Wicked.

Now I know that nail salons tend to apply the cuticle oil right before they put the polish on but I had seriously bad luck when I did that myself.  Even though I washed my hands and used a nail scrubber before applying the polish, I was still having an issue with some of the polish lifting the same day.  So I stopped applying the oil beforehand and instead wait until at least an hour after I've finished.

*I purchased these items myself and reviewed them just because I like them!*

Harrison : 9 Months

Weight & Height: He had his 9 month checkup last week and he was 21.4 pounds and 29 1/2" tall.  He's not small, that's for sure!

Health & Milestones: He's been picking up speed with his crawling although sometimes a little too fast for his hands because he wipes out and hits the floor face first :(  He's also pulling himself up on just about everything and walking around furniture.  I have a feeling he will be walking long before Selah did at 13 months.

Sleep: 90% of the time, he's great with sleep.  Nighttime, he's great but it's those naps where we have trouble sometimes.  Not sure if it's his teeth or what but the duration of his naps is all over the place lately.  Some days it's 3 hours in the afternoon, others it's 45 minutes.

Personality: He's still my happy little butterball but boy does he love his people.  He's good going to people he doesn't know as well which works for us when we want a night out, which doesn't happen a lot because I'm old and don't like staying out late :)

Diet: He's getting better about eating solids.  He definitely does not want you to help him either!  So he's definitely on the Baby Led Weaning route for sure.  Every baby is different so I'm just trying to go with it :)

Clothes: He's fully in 12 month clothes now and even a couple of those are getting shorter.  It's still stupidly hot here so I'm not sure if I should get a few 18 month short sleeve outfits or just make the 12 month shirts work until it's cold enough to go with the long sleeve 18 month shirts I have for him.

Likes: Puffs, your food, big sister Selah, Remi, stuffed animals, his blanket...can't sleep without it. 

Dislikes: Being walked away from if he's hungry or tired and he'll let ya know it!