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Gel/Shellac Nail Pedicure: How To Do Your Own at Home

Updated on July 27, 2015
Beth Buckley profile image

Beth has a Master's Degree in Physical Therapy and currently helps others through the body mind connection at Whole Body Synchroflow.

If You Want Pretty, Shiny Toe Nails That Require Minimum Maintenance and Cost.

The Answer: Home Gel/Shellac Pedicure.

I used to go the salon for gel nail polish pedicures and now I have fallen in love with the home gel/shellac system. If you want beautiful nails but do not have the time or inclination to visit a spa then read this article. It offers a wonderful alternative to salon nails and gives detailed instructions on how to give yourself a shellac pedicure. You will be able to look absolutely gorgeous at a low cost and the process is easy and fast. The result is flawless, strong toe nails that last up to a month.

In this lens you will learn how to give yourself a pedicure as well as how to apply and remove gel/shellac polish at home. I've researched the web and included links to the top YouTube tutorial videos as well as my favorite product links to Amazon. At the end of the lens you will be given a chance to vote and leave comments and suggestions.

~ Copright Protection ~
~ Copright Protection ~

All rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof

may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

without the express written permission of the author.

Pretty in Pink
Pretty in Pink

Before You Begin...

Purchase these items:

All of these products are included in Amazon links in this lens. The good thing is that once you've invested in the products, you will have them and use them for years to come. It is very much worth it!

1) Rubbing alcohol and mini spray bottle

2) Lint free cloth or wipes (not cotton balls because they leave residue)

3) Bond Aid by OPI

4) Gelcolor by OPI base coat

5) Any color of shellac polish (OPI, Gelish, Red Carpet, etc.)

6) GelColor by OPI top coat

7) UV or LED light (options are discussed below)

The Home Pedicure

Before applying your gel/shellac nail colors, you need to give yourself a pedicure. This is super easy to do and feels so good when you're done.

You will need 100/180 grade nail file, 80 grade nail file, nail buffer, cuticle pusher, cuticle clipper, toenail clipper, nail cleaner and cuticle oil. For your convenience, all items are included in Amazon links within this lens.

1. Soak your feet for 10 minutes or so in warm water. This softens the dry outer layer of the skin and makes it easier to remove. If you like, add some bath salts or aromatherapy to enhance the process.

2. Clip your toe nails as short as you like them. If you are used to wearing high heels without an opening for your toes then shorter nails are most comfortable.

3. Push your cuticles back gently with your cuticle pusher then clip them gently with your cuticle clipper.

4. Clean along the outer edges of your nails and under the nails.

5. If you have any ingrown nails then make sure that you turn the cuticle clipper perpendicular to the tip of the nail so that you may clip deeper around the outer corner of the nail. Be careful as you do this.

6. File and shape your toe nail ends using 1st the coarse grade file and moving to the softer grade.

7. File your toe nail beds (the surface of the nail) using the coarse grade nail file first followed by the softer and finally the nail buffer. File until the nail bed is smooth. Remove any nail dust from your nails.

8. I usually apply the cuticle oil once I’ve completed my shellac process. Otherwise it can cause chipping.

Now you are ready for your gel/shellac nail polish application. Yay!

NOTE: If you accidentally over-clip a cuticle and it bleeds, make sure you clean it well and apply antibacterial ointment before continuing with your pedicure.

Pedicure Tool

Tweezerman Stainless Cuticle Nipper, 1/2 Jaw
Tweezerman Stainless Cuticle Nipper, 1/2 Jaw

This brand is the best of the best in my opinion. Paying a little extra results in a high quality tool that you will have for years to come.


The Easy Gel Nail Process

Once you've given yourself a pedicure, you are ready for this quick and simple process. I learned these steps partly through online research and home trial as well as having shellac pedicures done by a professional.

1) Spray nails with rubbing alcohol.

2) Wipe nails dry with a lint-free cloth or wipe.

3) Apply an even layer of your base coat. Make sure you cover the entire nail, beginning at the border of the cuticle. Do not worry if it looks too thick just focus on covering the nail, including the tips. This seals the nails and helps prevent chipping.

4) * Carefully place your toes into the UV and turn it on for 1 minute. If using the LED light then cure for 30 seconds.

5) ** Use the side of the nail buffer sanding block that doesn’t have file paper to smooth out the base coat of clear polish. Do this by beginning at the cuticle, applying gentle pressure and sliding the sponge out to the tip of the nail. You may have to do this two times for each nail to prevent bubbling. You should only do this step over the base coat.

6) Apply one even layer of any gel/shellac color polish. Make sure you begin at the cuticle and include the nail tips. I like to begin in the center then do each side as far as possible and finally once lightly over the tips.

7) Use the UV light again for 1 minute or the LED for 30 seconds.

8) Apply a second coat of color gel/shellac polish.

9) Use the UV light 1 minute or the LED for 30 seconds.

10) Apply one even layer of your top coat gel/shellac, with the same technique as before, cuticle to tips.

11) Repeat UV or LED procedures.

12) Apply a second coat of the top coat gel/shellac.

13) For the final cure, double the times on the lights. Use the UV light for 2 minutes or the LED for 1 minute each foot.

14) Spray toes with alcohol and wipe with a lint-free cloth. Now you’re ready with fabulous feet for up to a month. Yay!

NOTE: You may use this same exact procedure for gel/shellac manicures at home. The only difference is that you will need to add an extra minute UV or 45 seconds LED lamp time to your thumbs after applying the color polish. You do not need to do the extra times for the clear polish. This prevents chipping on the outer corner of the thumbnail.

*Check the instructions on the curing lamp you purchase. Times may vary from what I have indicated.

** See below for a picture of the nail buffering sanding block.

Picture of Nail Buffer Block

The orange side is what I want you to use to smooth out the base coat of clear polish after it has been cured in the UV or LED lamp.

UV and LED lights for pedicures

I use an UV light for my nails, but the newer LED lamps cure your nails in much less time. The downside of the LED lamps is that they are a more powerful light and can be more damaging to your skin. If you choose the LED, I would highly recommend using the protective gloves.

Youtube Tutorials for Home Gel/Shellac Nails

These videos include application and removal of the gel/shellac polish in manicures. The same techniques apply for pedicures.

Double Top Coat

Why Do I Need It?

From my experience, the second layer of top coat aides in thickening the nail, making it stronger and allowing the gel nail polish to last longer. I've tried it with one versus two top layers and two definitely makes a difference. Since I won't need to change my pedicure polish until a month later, I spend the extra time for the better outcome. This is why I recommend two top coats.

My Favorite Gel/shellac Polish Color

I love to wear bright pinks, oranges, purples and even blue nail polish colors. Here are a few specific brands that I've tried and loved; plus I always get so many compliments on these colors!

Sparkly Nails

If you would like your nails to sparkle then simply select a sparkle polish and add it on top of your color coat the same way you would do a color coat. Follow the single coat of sparkle polish with your 2 layers of top coat and your glam nails are ready to go!

Removal of Gel/shellac Polish

For removing your gel/shellac nail polish, you will need Vaseline, 100% acetone nail polish remover, cotton rounds, aluminum foil, cuticle pusher. Amazon links to most of these items can be found as you scroll down the lens.

Although the process does take more time than removing regular nail polish, it is definitely worth the wait for strong, shiny nails that won’t chip until your next pedicure is due. Also, the same procedure applies if you are removing gel/shellac manicure polish.

1) *Cut the cotton rounds in fourths or halves if needed, so that they are the perfect size to fit on your nails.

2) *Cut 10 - 1” by 2.5” strips of aluminum foil.

3) Use the coarse grade file on each nail to break into the polish, removing the shine.

4) Apply Vaseline to your cuticles. This protects them while the acetone is soaking.

5) Saturate the cotton with acetone and apply to nailbed.

6) Use the aluminum foil to secure the cotton in place by wrapping it around the toe.

7) Complete this process for all of your toe nails.

8) Set a timer for 10 minutes.

9) Remove one toe wrap at a time and use your cuticle pusher to gently scrape off the gel/shellac polish. Sometimes not all of the polish is removed and all you need to do is reapply the wrap for another 5-10 minutes.

10) Once you’ve unwrapped each toe and cleared the nail of polish then you are ready to do your home pedicure followed by the application process of more shellac.

*If you prefer, you may purchase gel removal wraps. These pre-made wraps contain the cotton pad for soaking off plus the foil for wrapping it on.

Gel/shellac Removal

I usually find cotton rounds and aluminum at the Dollar Tree. I have tried the removal wraps and they are more convenient and easy to use.

Home Gel/Shellac Nail Pedicures - Are They For You?

3DToeBling for Peace
3DToeBling for Peace

Here is your chance to vote on gel nail pedicures! If you've had one done professionally, you are familiar with the time, money and expertise required. Also, you are probably aware of the absolute beauty your toes exude with the gel nails.

What do you think about this easy home version?

See results

Please give your ideas about gel/shellac nails at home and guide readers to another useful lens!

Thanks ~ Beth

You're Turn! - What Do You Think About Home Gel/Shellac Nails?

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    • profile image

      Lauren 2 years ago

      I envy people who can do perfect nails at home. I can do pretty nice manicure, but since I’ve first tried feet nail art in Ibiza at, I understood I would never be able to repeat this by myself.

    • Beth Buckley profile image

      Beth Buckley 2 years ago from Portland, OR

      Hi, Chelsey, You only need to wipe off the sticky layer at the very end of your manicure.

    • profile image

      Chelsey 3 years ago

      Im wondering because between steps it the polish feels sticky after curing it for a minute which should be long enough! I think this is normal but do I wipe the sticky layer off between each coat or just at the end ?

    • AntoineDunlap profile image

      AntoineDunlap 4 years ago

      Very good lens on Gel Nail Pedicure. I like to use gel nails as well after a manicure. I find the gel nails last longer than traditional polish. I usually use a gel nail kit from OPI.

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      I currently do both, at home and at the salon. Sometimes I have no time and just want someone to do it for me. However, I love doing Gel on stiletto nails because it is so in style right now! Stiletto nails = Rihanna nails. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      astrosaycare 5 years ago

      Nice Lens. You write really good. A very talented writer

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is great, thank you for your sharing, I really like them. :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      This is one of my goals for the new year -- to do my own gel nails at home.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Never heard of it but awesome lens.

    • MarcNorris LM profile image

      MarcNorris LM 5 years ago

      Can't say I've ever tried gel nails, but you do have a well put together lens. Thanks!

    • profile image

      brynimagire 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens ! Awesome.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Great site about gel nails: Gel nail kits

    • profile image

      sheezie77 6 years ago

      Great lens! Thank you for posting! thumbs up

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      Nice Lens!

    • laurenrose lm profile image

      laurenrose lm 6 years ago

      Great lens, I always do my own nails so I will try to do this as well

    • AshwinSajith LM profile image

      AshwinSajith LM 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I will be featring it in my ' How to d a pedicure at home' lens . thanks for the share

    • gamingfanboy profile image

      gamingfanboy 6 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      love gel nails, contemplating opening my own business? any suggestions?

      low on funds, can't invest a lot of cash....


    • profile image

      tcmbrendan 6 years ago

      Excellent post. I just subscribed!

    • profile image

      Raulbesquival 6 years ago

      Nail care is critical to keep your nails looking wholesome, stunning and presentable. Essentials for nail care are an excellent pedicure and manicure, which can make you feel like a million dollars.

      Massage Therapy Chicago

    • collierlewisjew profile image

      collierlewisjew 6 years ago

      The axxium OPI gel polish is amazing! It doesn't chip, and makes life so much easier. Great lens.

    • collierlewisjew profile image

      collierlewisjew 6 years ago

      The axxium OPI gel polish is amazing! It doesn't chip, and makes life so much easier. Great lens.

    • profile image

      mattifycosmetics 6 years ago

      Great lens! Itâs SO much more cost effective to do this at home instead of going to a salon. I purchased a few gel colors from Ebay for $5 & theyâre being shipped from Hong Kong. Canât wait to try them out! When I had my salon gel mani/pedi done, they said to come back for removal in 3 weeks and were going to charge 25 bucks. So, I purchased some acetone from Sallyâs and just did it myself. I tried regular drugstore acetone first (the kind that must be mixed with other ingredients like water or alcohol) and it didnât work at all. Itâs super important to buy the 100% acetone, otherwise the gel wonât dissolve. Soaking for about 10 minutes under saturated cotton pads did the trick.

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens, Thanks for sharing.

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens, Thanks for sharing.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Interesting. I'd never heard of gel nails. Lensrolled to my At Home Spa lens!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      thanks for your useful nail pedicure tips.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Super lens! great job. I love the jewelry.

      Please drop by my Essie lens. XXx

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      it's good lenses, thank's for your share



    • profile image

      suziedsouza 6 years ago

      Gel manicure in contrast to a conventional manicure that is usually offered at the salons is that in has a greater longevity. While the ordinary nail varnishes would peel off or fade out within a weekâs time, it will undoubtedly stay as long as two weeks.

    • profile image

      livingfrontiers 6 years ago

      I like to do my nails at home, because I hate sitting in a chemical filled room. If I have to, I like to go to one salon in the summer, where they let you sit outside in the fresh air. We have some great people in our area! Nails are so much fun, and well worth the time.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      Wow ... it sounds like a lot of work. Pedicures are one of my favorite ways to unwind, so I'll probably stick to the salon. But it's interesting to see the new products that are coming out.

    • profile image

      scar4 6 years ago

      I prefer nail salon to home version. It's more convenient for me!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      I do my own when I have time but sometimes it's just quicker and easier to go to the salon.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very detail instructions - thumbs up and favorited. so you can do the pedicure at home too.

    • pixelposy profile image

      pixelposy 7 years ago

      I do love gel nails, but i don't know if I have the coordination to do my own. Thanks for the informative lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @KokoTravel: No doubt, Colin! I definitely prefer the salon gel nails. Thanks for your comment.

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      Sometimes it is best to have the people who know what they are doing perform the job. On the other hand... who says you can't become an expert through practice on your own nails? But remember, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      To start, I am a professional licensed and OPI trained nail tech. OPI Axxium soak-off gel is an amazing product, with amazing results- IF done by a trained professional who knows what they are doing. Same goes with any of the other gel brands. I have seen way too many times to count, client coming in from seeing another nail techs, that do not seem to have a clue how these systems work, therefore damaging clients healthy nails. Gel nails are a means for those who travel, looking for a longer lasting manicure without acrylic or traditional hard gel, or those who cannot seem to keep polish on their nails. Please please please consumers, do not try to do the gel yourself, and not to mention if you aren't sure how to remove, please have someone remove them that knows how. Drimel tools or filing of the whole gel off of the nail, is not correct- and will result in damage or weakening of the nail! Also, using a soak-off gel, means it is a colored gel. By no means is there ever any application of nail polish. If so, you are more likely using a traditional hard gel (which must be filed completely off to get off) - and if not, by applying a gel top sealer over polish, is not going to keep the polish on for more than a few days.

      NO YOU CANNOT SKIP USING A UV LAMP! All gels must cure using a uv lamp. If not, they will stay tacky and wet.

      Consumers, soak-off gel nail systems are professional use products only. Please allow a licensed nail tech-who is thoroughly trained and proficient in gels to do your nails. You wouldn't give your self a full hair cut would you? No, you'd leave it to someone who knew what they were doing so it looks how you want it to, and not half assed.

    • profile image

      Angelfairy 7 years ago

      Nice information, quality stuff!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @WhiteOak50: Thanks, WhiteOak! I appreciate the feedback.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 7 years ago

      Fantastic directions, beautiful toe rings!!