How to Cheat a Gel Manicure (sans UV)

If you love the look of gel nails but aren’t ready for the real thing, here’s how to cheat the gel manicure look:

gelly hi shine gel nails

First things first, prep your nails making sure that they are clean, shaped and free from all previous nail varnish.

Step 1:

Apply one coat of base coat

Step 2:

Apply one coat of sheer nail varnish.  You’ll usually find that these have a pink-ish tint and that’s fine.  The main thing is that it’s sheer, so that it will dry quickly but offer an increased level of coverage and bulk up the polish so that it copies that thicker, gel look.

Step 3:

Apply one coat of your chosen gel nail varnish.  I cheat a gel manicure using Barry M’s Gelly Hi Shine range but you can also check out the other nail polish alternatives to gel nails

Step 4:

Wait. Drying time of gel nail polishes is a lot longer than a standard ones.  A minimum of 5 minutes is best

Step 5:

Apply the second coat of gel nail polish, trying not to go over the same area too many times – one swipe down the middle, one swipe down the left then right and perhaps one in the middle to even it out but that’s it!

Step 6:

Again, wait as long as you can before adding top coat (min 5mins but the longer you can hold off the better)

Step 7:

Apply one coat of quick dry nail top coat that offers serious shine.  This is what you need to get that uber glossy look.  I highly recommend Revlon Quick Dry because it does just that!


Additional Tip:
You can extend the wear time by adding a second layer of top coat, either later that day or the following day.

I got around 6 days wear before a few cracks appeared, no chips.  It may not last as long as real gel nails but you can definitely cheat the look!

13 responses to “How to Cheat a Gel Manicure (sans UV)

  1. i’ve just started using the Avon Gel nail varnish, i love the shade in lavender! I love gel nails, but i love changing my nails so often so i much prefer this alternative!!


    • Definitely agree, it’s so much more convenient and gives us more colours to play with which is always a plus! The Avon gels look really good especially the creme ones

  2. I love changing my nails often so this is a really good tip! Have you tried the Sally Hansen gel nail set (small uv light included)? Was wondering if I should get it but I don’t know anyone else that’s tried it.

  3. Pingback: Triangle Tipped Nails | Nail Luxxe·

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