By katie masters


Hi!!! It’s me Katie Masters aka @nailthoughts

Gel manicures are tough. And I think a lot of people are finding this to be true especially after their at home DIY manicures during all of these shut downs.

Ever since I came out with my gel color collection, I got tons of DMs and questions about proper ways to do gel manicures and troubleshooting, so here is a quick outline of some of the top 5 mistakes I have seen people make with their gel manicures! Click here to watch my youtube video going over these 5 mistakes OR keep reading! 

And heads up! If you want to get even more in depth and knowledgeable  on why your gel manicures are lifting, chipping, etc. here is a great online class dedicated to you!

And, if you are a DIYer definitely check out this blog as well on the list of nail supplies you will need for your at home mani.


Yes. Water is actually one of the worst things for your nails. And I’m not talking about drinking it, always stay drinking water! I am talking about your nails being constantly exposed to it via hand washing, showering, bathing, swimming, whatever it may be. 

Our nails are like actual sponges. When our nails are being soaked in water, they can absorb about 3 times their amount of weight in water. And when they absorb all of that water, they expand in size! Then after about an hour or so they shrink back up their normal size. But what happens when you put polish or gel on top of an expanded surface from water? Welllllll, when the nail shrinks back up to it’s normal state, the gel isn’t going to shrink back up with it, therefore loosening the bond between the gel and the nail and causing lifting and possibly just nails popping off completely! 

So if you are going to be doing your own nails, don’t soak them in water, even if the nail salons do it. Promise. And try to wait at least 30 mins to 1 hour after a shower before applying gel on your nails!


Gel hates a lot of things, but its number one favorite thing it hates is smooth and shiny surfaces. Gel is like velcro in a way, it needs something to latch on to. So before your gel application you absolutely need to be properly and thoroughly buffing the entire surface shine off of your nail!  It needs to be totally “roughed” up  with a nail file (gently) and completely matte. If you don’t do this properly, your precious gel mani that you just hunched over for hours for, will pop right off in a week or so. It will lift like crazy and honestly probably all peel right off in one (very satisfying) piece. It will be very sad. 

If you need some recommendations for nail files and other supplies that I use, click here!


Cuticle isn’t just that curved skin part at the top of your nails, it is actually dead skin that is sometimes hard to see that grows ON your actual nail bed! It’s almost invisible unless it’s really dry or your give it a nice scraping. It grows down the side walls and on nail bed and guess what? Gel hates it. Honestly gel is the biggest hater. The only thing it likes... is other gel pretty much. Narcissism. If anyone or anything else tries to join the party, shit's gonna go down. And by down, I mean your self esteem because you just spent so long on a gel manicure and it STILL didn’t last. 

Luckily when we buff the surface of the nail with our nail file, we are filing some of that skin off and away, but those little cuticle corners up there can be a little tricky. You can either use the nail files’ rounded side to push up the cuticles and exfoliate the nail skin up at the same time, OR use a cuticle bit with an e file! But be very thorough !! Gel will lift and definitely get caught your hair if it is cured on top of dead skin.


This kind of goes hand in hand with the above one, but this fourth mistake is more talking about not cleaning up the sidewalls and cuticle area GEL floods before curing it. Gel is not like nail polish, it can’t really be cleaned up when it's dry. It’s done. Then think about what happens when you cure the gel in/ on that cuticle. It creates that little ledge from nail to skin, so when it grows out, the gel is going to be in that cured ledge shape, perfect for getting caught in your hair, clothes, and lifting right up! A great tip to avoid this is by doing one nail at a time and curing it one nail at a time. Sometimes by the time you get to the last finger, all of the gel on the other fingers seep to one side or flood and you don’t even notice! I always do my clients’ nails one at a time and cure the gel for 30 seconds in between fingers so it is always right where I left it.


I have seen this a lot recently where people will see a very cheap mini LED/UV curing gel light that seems to fit like 1-3 fingers at a time thinking that this is going to be their gel lamp. But unfortunately those types of lamps do not have the power you need to fully cure your gel! You have to invest in a more powerful lamp in order to get that full cure needed, otherwise, if your gel isn’t fully cured, guess what! It’s not gonna properly adhere to the nail! In my nail supplies for DIYers blog post I link to a lamp that both techs and DIYers both use, click here to read!

If you are interested in learning ALL the in depth information on how to get your gel manicures to last up to a MONTH with no issues at all, tap HERE for my Gel Manicure Foundations Online Class! 

And that’s that!!! I actually have a quick 15 minute video of this list with a couple quick demonstrations on things I mentioned in this blog post, so go ahead and give it a watch!


1 comment

  • Thank you for this video! So helpful, from a DIY nail working professional woman in Illinois!

    Marilynn Dye on

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