All About Gel Polish!

OPI GelColor Nails

A couple of weeks ago I left for a week long road trip exploring some national parks! I was gone for a week, and couldn’t bear the thought of having a chipped mani. I received this lovely gel package from OPI including their LED light and some gel polishes from the Brazil collection a few days before I left…I instantly knew this would solve my problem!

Before I go into detail about how to apply gel and all that, I must say I was SO amazed with the OPI GelColor! I’ve tried many brands, but I’ve always had some sort of issue with them whether it be the application, using them for nail art, or just getting them to last for a while. The picture of my nails at the top of this post was taken after 8 days of wearing them – don’t they look like new?! Awesome! πŸ™‚

Read on for more detail…
OPI GelColor

To begin your gel nails…be sure to PREPΒ the nails! Its the most important step to ensure a long lasting mani! Push back cuticles (they can cause lifting). No need to use cuticle remover, just push them back gentle but firm. Then, get a lint free wipe (or paper towel) and cleanse the nail of any oils with acetone. Don’t just wipe the nail…SCRUB hard! Get in all the corners and underneath the nail.

Once you have proper prep done with the nail, apply your base coat. I’m obsessed with the brushes OPI uses and they are the exact same on their GelColor! The bottles say to shake the polish, so I gave it a good shake prior to application. For the base coat, apply a thin but even coat and cap the free edge. Before curing, remove any excess from the cuticle area. Then cure for 30 seconds!


Not only do I love the GelColor itself, but the LED light is awesome! Previously I only used a UV light and I hated waiting 2 minutes! The light has a countdown and turns on automatically once you put your hand in. It also is super sturdy and not made of plastic like many lights I’ve seen.

After letting the base coat cure – apply 1 thin coat of color, cure 30 seconds, and repeat. The trick to getting perfect application is thin coats and capping the free edge. The first coat usually appears streaky, but the second coat does the trick so don’t be worried! Do this part as clean as you can…if you get any on your cuticle it can definitely cause problems with its staying power.

Now…either you can continue on with top coat, or add nail art! I had such an easy time doing my usual nail art with GelColor, it applies just like nail polish. A helpful tip: when doing nail art with gel you will want to “glide” the brush over, instead of painting it on. It takes some practice, but if you glide it on you can get thinner and cleaner lines. With gel nail art, you want to give it a quick cure before layering colors or moving on to another finger. If you let it sit without curing it can spread out a bit. Ill give it a quick 15 second cure to lock it into place. Once you finish all 5 fingers with nail art, I gave all of them another 30 second cure.

With this particular design I added studs. To adhere them really well, paint a layer of top coat and before curing place the stud (or rhinestone, charm, etc.). Cure the gel for 30 seconds, then apply another coat OVER the stud to lock it in. With rhinestones you won’t want to cover them with top coat as it can ruin the shine, so just apply around it.

Top coat time! The great thing about doing nail art with gel is that if you cure it properly, there is no drying time and you don’t have to worry about streaks in your nail art. Apply a thin coat, cap the free edge, and stick it in for 30 seconds. Wipe off the tacky layer with alcohol and apply cuticle oil to finish your mani!

OPI GelColor Nail Art

I know this was quite a lengthy post, but I wanted to include as much information as possible!

Have you tried OPI GelColor?

Products in this post provided for honest review

About the Author

Chelsea King
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  • Laure April 09, 2014 01.29 pm

    Looks great!
    Even though I’ll probably never own the OPI gel set up, I thought it was very interesting to hear how it’s done. Thanks for the rundown. πŸ™‚

  • Christina Parker April 09, 2014 08.00 pm

    I love the OPI Gel Polish for myself. As a manicurist, it stays on the best compared to other gel polishes. However it takes a little more work to get off than say CND Shellac. I am more in love with it now that I have mastered the tape method for gel polish! So fun to play with…

  • Puspita Nilam April 09, 2014 08.19 pm

    Lucky you, Chelsea!
    Pretty design as always πŸ™‚

    check out my blog:

  • Black Cat Nails (@blackcatnails) April 10, 2014 12.06 am

    I have always wondered how easy/hard it was to do nail art with gel polish, great article!

  • Dave Whilock April 19, 2014 06.58 pm

    Okay, I never thought I would actually ask a beauty blogger for advice, but my girlfriend’s birthday is in a couple of weeks and she’s obsessed with her nails, so I thought I should get more creative with her birthday gift this year. Would it be okay to get her a set of nail polishes, tools and a lamp? I need some real suggestions here, I know pretty much nothing about this stuff.
    Hope you girls will help me out!

    • Olivia April 24, 2014 09.58 pm

      Wow! That’s nice. If my boyfriend bought me polish I would be so happy. I have been eyeballing the new collection from Essie and OPI. Being broke I’d never be able to buy the WHOLE collection so that’d be great. Also check out they have real nice nail wraps (the transparent ones would be super awesome). Buying a lamp could be tricky unless you know which one she wants. Nail polish addicts usually go through acetone, nail files, cuticle creams and cotton balls like crazy, I can usually buy that at a general store but when I want the nice stuff I’ll splurge at Sally’s Beauty Salon so a gift card to a place like that might be nice or Amazon for some desk swag (there is nothing wrong with gift cards but I wouldn’t give her just that) πŸ˜‰ Hope that helps!


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Chelsea King is a licensed nail artist based out of Los Angeles, California.

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