Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Soak off gel nails - what you need to get started

One of the questions I see asked most commonly by newbies to Soak off Gels (SOG's) is "what do I really need to get started?"

Many of the items you need can be purchased at a drugstore, local Sally Beauty Supply or Ulta store, or other open-to-the-public store.  If not, there are plenty of places online to purchase them.  I personally do not use the Gelish cleanser or their remover product, so if you notice they are missing from the list below, it's because I just don't use them.  There are some products here that I use, but you may not need or want to.  There are also products I use that aren't listed here, as I don't use them all the time - they have a more specialized purpose and will be covered in other tutorials.  

The links I have listed here are in most cases what I actually have, or some variation (i.e. full size vs. Sally's Mini).  In other cases it is just to give you an example

These are the tools and things I use when doing a basic SOG manicure.   They are not really listed in any particular order, sorry.  

  • A nail file.  My favorite is a 100/180 grit dual sided, curved Zebra file.   Right now I have a straight one, which also works fine.  It's just preference. 
  • A 120 grit block buffer (optional, but I use it to buff the topcoat before I soak off.  You could also use your nail file).  
  • A 240 or 320 grit polar block buffer (they make several grits in this, so just pay attention so which one you are getting.  You want a super-fine grit. The 320 is my favorite).  
  • Cuticle remover (this is the one I use and I like it)
  • A cuticle pusher.  This is the one I have, but there are much nicer ones out there. 
  • A Cuticle Curette (optional, but really helped me in removing all cuticle from nail plate)
  • Manicure Sticks (Orangewood sticks, birchwood sticks, whatever you want to call them.  Optional, but helpful for many).  
  • Alcohol (70% actually works fine, but 99% is recommended.  Sometimes my local drugstore will have 91%, but not always.  Use what you can find.)
  • 100% pure acetone
  • Cuticle Oil.  I have this one, as well as the CND solar oil and several others.  They all work well so use what you like.  I think consistency of use is more important than which brand you use.  
  • Cotton ball or squares
  • Tin foil or silicone rubber finger protector/thimbles.  (See below for more info)
  • Gelish pH bond (optional.  You can wipe the nail with acetone and alcohol to dehydrate the nail as well)
  • Gelish PRO Bond (optional.  Should only be used if you have problems with lifting polish after you've troubleshooted other potential causes)
  • Gelish Base Foundation (often referred to as just Base)
  • Gelish Top It Off (often referred to as TIO)
  • A Gelish color polish (or other brand if you prefer)
  • A UV light.  This can be a 36 watt fluorescent bulb tunnel lamp (as shown here) or an LED lamp.  Which you choose depends on many factors.  
    • To my knowledge, all brands will cure in a fluorescent bulb UV lamp.  Not all brands will cure in a LED lamp.  For the purposes of my tutorials I will be basing curing times on a 36 watt tunnel lamp, as LED cure times vary depending on wattage.  The tunnel lamp I have looks much like the one I linked to, although mine was an eBay purchase.  I recommend getting a good lamp, as while I got lucky with my Shipped-from-China Ebay purchase, others didn't have as good of luck.
OK, back to the silicone thimbles.  I found these things at WalMart with the office supplies.  They were in a pack of 12 assorted sizes for $2-3.  I cannot find them online on to show you what they look like.  They look sort of like these, but mine are blue and have holes on one side, and are textured on the other side.  I just place the hole side where the pad of my finger is, and leave the closed, textured side on the nail side of my finger.  I have used them many times and they are showing no wear from the acetone exposure.  You can see the ones I have in the photo below of my basic supplies.  

Note the wooden manicure sticks are missing from my photo.  That's because I actually don't usually use them anymore, I just use my nails on my opposite hand to swipe around the edge of the cuticle and sidewalls to clean up.  It was easier when I started though to use the manicure sticks.  Also, those little pump-top bottles hold my acetone (black one) and alcohol (white one).  I got them at Sally's.  

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