DIY Gel-X Nails: Here’s Everything You Need as a Beginner (2024)

The cost of law school graduation was adding up so I decided I wanted to do diy gel-x nail extensions. They came out pretty decent if I do say so myself. If you’re looking to learning how to do your own gel-x nail extensions, or maybe even someone else’s, this post has you covered with everything you’ll need. DIY Gel-x nails are appealing because it’s just way too expensive to get them done these days. The products on this list definitely add up, but this is a case of “you have to spend money now to save money later.” Once you make the upfront investment, you’ll save much more in the long run. Here’s a link to the full tutorial I watched to get the hang of diy gel-x nails.

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Everything You Need for DIY Gel-X Nails

The Lamps:

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You absolutely can’t do true gel nails without the lamps so here’s what you’ll need.

  • an individual lamp. Because you need to “flash cure” each individual nail under a UV light so that the glue can hold the nail in place before you fully cure your entire hand, you’ll need a lamp that makes it easy for holding your nail under while you press down on the glue.
  • UV/LED nail lamp that your entire hand fits under. I use this one.

The Protection

Because you are putting your hands under UV light, you absolutely need to protect them. Your options for UV light protection are:

  • sunscreen. You can use any sunblock that you would use on your body for your hands, or you can use SPF hand cream. But keep in mind you’ll have to wipe the oils from the sunscreen off of your natural nails otherwise the extensions won’t stick well.
  • fingerless gloves. These are made specifically with gel nail application in mind. Honestly, even if you have no interest in doing your nails yourself, you should get these gloves and bring them with you the next time you get your nails done. We do not want to prematurely age our hands!

The Gel-x Nail Extensions

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Gel-x Nails are essentially clear press-on nails that are adhered to your nail bed with a “nail glue.” So for the extensions, you have many options based on your skill level, budget, and equipment.

  • Apres Gel-x nail extensions are what I default to because they are already shaped and sized so you don’t have to cut or file them if you don’t want to. I started my kit off with the round shape in short and medium lengths. These are much pricier than the option below.
  • Beetles nail extensions are more affordable but don’t come in different shapes or sizes so you’d have to do the extra work of cutting them down to your desired length and filing them to your desired shape. Pro tip: get the entire kit that comes with a mini led lamp and base coat.

The Natural Nail Prep & Care

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Gel-x nails last longer when you prep your nails better. Removing cuticles, dirt, and debris gives your gel-x nail a clean surface to adhere to which increases the likelihood of it lasting long. Technically all of these are optional but if you’re aiming for clean-looking, long-lasting nails, you should have:

The Gel-x Nail Prep

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In order to do gel-x nails there are a few products that you absolutely need:

  • ph bonder or nail dehydrator to remove oils from the nail bed
  • acid-free primer to chemically etch the inside of your extension and prep your nail bed for the
  • extend gel, which is essentially a heavy due UV light-activated nail glue. This holds the nail together and hardens when cured under the light.

You can find these items sold separately or in a kit. I use the one from Apres but Amazon brands like Beetles and Aimeli have and sell them at a more affordable price as well so look around for the best most affordable option if you’d like.

Note: if you get the Apres kit, it comes with a UV light, however, I do not recommend the UV light that comes with the kit because it is hard to work with for flash curing. So it may be a better option to buy the bottles in the kit separately along with the UV light I linked earlier in this post.

The Polish

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For polish, the only things you need are a base coat, gel polish, and top coat (and honestly you can get away with not using a base coat). The Apres gel-x kit comes with a top coat so if you get that kit all you’ll need outside of that is the polish and base. Everything else is an added extra. Here are the details on the nails I most recently did for my law school graduation.

  • base coat & top coat were from Beetles brand.
  • OPI “put it in neutral” is the perfect nude nail color that doubles as a perfect base for a french manicure. I get all my OPI gel nail polishes from beyond polish.Note: you need a license to get most household name brand gel nail polish from Amazon. Beyond polish is a site where you can get gel nail polish from brands like OPI and Essie without a special nail salon/tech license.
  • “pink lady” from Beetles pastel gel liner set was what I used for my french manicure tip
  • rhinestones for nail art. A little razzle-dazzle would never hurt. I used the smallest ones in the pack and used the extend gel as nail glue.

The Optional Extras

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And then there are a bunch of things that you don’tneed but that might make your life easier as you seek to get better at doing your own nails:

  • nail stamp. This is the way I was able to do a french manicure on my nails! Highly recommend it if you’re looking to do the same as a beginner, especially on your non-dominant hand. For a demo, check out this video.
  • nail drill. So this is completely optional because if you have the acid-free primer from Apres you won’t need to file the inside of your nail to make it last longer. However, if you don’t have primer you’ll need to file the inside of the nail so that the extend gel adheres better. You can also just not file it if you don’t want your nails to last and want to change them more frequently. It’s also great to have to buff down the nail near your cuticle so it looks less bulky and more natural.
  • lint-free pads. This makes life easier if you make a mistake and want to remove polish before you cure it.
  • nail art brush set for removing gel nail polish errors or doing nail art.
  • glass dish for acetone. When you make a mistake, dip a nail art brush into acetone held in these glasses and then wipe it off.

That’s about it! I hope this post on DIY gel-x nails helps you out on the journey to becoming your own nail tech. It’s not an easy or short process but it’ll be so satisfying when someone compliments your nails and asks where you got it done only for you to say you did it yourself!

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” Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” 2 Corinthians 3:5


DIY Gel-X Nails: Here’s Everything You Need as a Beginner (2024)
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