Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to do a soak off gel manicure

OK friends, here is how I do my soak off gel manicures.  This includes shaping, prep, and the gel polish itself.  I started with Gelish, and use the same process for my manicures no matter which brand of color I am  using.  

An important thing to keep in mind is that cuticle is not what most people think it is.  It is not the skin that surrounds your nail, it is skin that grows over the nail plate and can be invisible until you go about trying to remove it!  If you've not had or done a proper manicure, there could be a lot of cuticle that you didn't even know was there!  It just depends.  Some people seem to have very little cuticle.  You should also never go about nipping or cutting the skin around your nails with "cuticle nippers".  The ONLY time I ever use them is to take care of the occasional bad hangnail.  

I also recommend watching the basic video on how to apply Gelish.  There are many on YouTube, and mine is linked at the bottom of this post.  

  1. Shape all nails:
    • Using a 100/180 grit Zebra file (my favorite one) I shorten my nails if they are too long for my liking and shape them.  I prefer a squared or squoval shape, so that's what I do.  do whatever you prefer.  I most often already have this step done, as I do this before I remove my old manicure usually.  For some reason I find it easier to do it that way, and in the process it breaks the seal at the free edge making soak off easier
  2. Remove cuticle from all nails:
    • Place a small amount of cuticle remover around the edge of my nails.  Let it set there for 1 minute.  
    • GENTLY push back the cuticle on the nail plate with a cuticle pusher. 
    • After this, I use a Curette GENTLY in a small, circular motion all over the nail plate and around the lateral and proximal nail folds (the skin surrounding the nail) to remove any additional cuticle.  
      • It really helps to get into that area, especially if you have any deep nail folds.  I thought I was doing great at removing cuticle until I got this tool and realized just how much I was missing! I highly recommend if you don't know how to use this tool that you google some information on it and watch some videos on you tube.  Search for Cuticle Work on YouTube and watch some of the first videos that come up.  
    • Most cuticle remover needs to be deactivated with water.  Since I don't do a wet manicure (meaning I don't soak or wash my hands) I just use a paper towel that I dampened with water before I start to wipe my nails and the surrounding skin off when I am done with my cuticle work.  
  3. Buff the nail plate on all nails:
    • Not everyone does this, and it's not a recommended step in all Soak off gel systems, so keep that in mind.  
    • I use a 320 grit soft block buffer and just lightly go back and forth across my nails to remove the shine, nothing more.  I'll also usually smooth the free edge where I've filed to shorten and shape.  
  4. Clean all nails:
    • Take a cotton ball with a little alcohol on it and wipe the surface of my nail clean.  This cleans it from any filing dust and any dirt that might be there. 
  5. Dehydrate the nail plate:
    • On whichever hand you are doing first, Apply Gelish pH Bond over the entire nail plate and let it dry (It dries very fast)
    • Alternatively, you can use swipes of alcohol and then acetone soaked cotton balls to do this, as that is basically what pH bond is
  6. Apply Bonder only if needed:
    • I apply bonder (Gelish Pro Bond or similar, acid-free bonder) only to the tips of the nails I have problems with tip lift with.  
    • Bonder does make removal slightly more difficult, but if you have eliminated all other possible causes of lifting, and using bonder works for you, then I say go for it.  This is only my opinion.
  7. Apply Base Foundation Gel:
    • Wipe almost ALL product from the brush on the sides of the bottle.  
    • Using a scrubbing motion, apply foundation to the entire nail plate in a very, very thin layer. 
      • This scrubbing motion with very little product keeps the layer very thin.
    • Cap free edge by swiping brush along free edge of nail
    • Use the light around you and look at your nail from different angles to make sure the entire nail is covered.  
    • Clean up around the cuticle and sidewalls if you get any on your skin with a manicure stick or fingernails of your opposite hand
    • Cure for 1 minute in a 36 watt tunnel lamp
  8. Apply color coats:
    • Thinly and evenly apply color coat by placing brush in middle of nail, pushing back toward the cuticle before pulling the brush to the free edge.  
    • After covering the nails cap the free edge
    • Clean up any gel on skin and cuticle area with manicure stick or fingernails
    • Cure 2 minutes.  Very dark colors may need 3 minutes.
    • Apply second (and 3rd if using) coat in same fashion and cure again.
  9. Apply Top It Off (TIO):
    • Thinly apply top it off to entire nail, ensuring the entire nail is covered.
    • Cap free edge
    • Remove any gel that has gotten on skin with manicure stick or fingernail
    • Cure 2 minutes.  
  10. Remove tacky layer:
    • With alcohol on a cotton ball, wipe nails and free edge to remove the residual tacky layer
  11. Repeat:
    • Repeat Steps 5-10 on your other hand.
  12. Apply cuticle Oil:
    • Brush or drip cuticle oil (depending on the applicator you have) on the skin all around all your nails and massage in gently.

1 comment:

  1. Found you from the Purseblog forum. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! Pinned it ;)