The Best Way to Apply Semi-Cured Gel Nails: Ultimate guide

Wanna know how to apply semi-cured gel nails?

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This latest gel manicure craze from Korea has everybody talking!

Maybe you’ve seen the ads for all the gorgeous new products on social and you’re itching to make a purchase.

If you don’t have time to go to the salon, or if you want to save money, it’s well worth giving gel nail strips a try.

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to do your own long-lasting gel manicure with nail strips at home.

So, how do you apply semi-cured gel nails?

Here are the basic steps for applying gel strips:

  1. Buff, file and push cuticles back.
  2. Remove oils from nail plate using prep wipe.
  3. Choose the strip size you want.
  4. Remove the protective film.
  5. Peel off the gel sticker.
  6. Match up the cuticle line.
  7. Place the strip on the nail.
  8. Use a wooden manicure stick to press edges down.
  9. Clip the tips off with nail clippers.
  10. File off the excess gel strip with a nail file.
  11. Cure under a nail lamp.
  12. Apply top coat (optional).

Sounds super easy, right?

Now that you have the basic idea of the application process, let’s dive deeper and learn how to apply these puppies like a pro!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What are semi cured gel nail wraps?

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Semi cured gel nail wraps are nail polish strips made from real gel nail polish.

They have many names, are they are very similar to regular nail polish strips which can be a bit confusing.

Sometimes they’re called “gel nail stickers”, “gel polish strips” or “cured gel wraps”.

But it’s all basically the same thing.

If your not sure whether the nail stickers you’re looking to purchase are semi-cured or not, check if it says that you need to cure under an led lamp.

If it doesn’t say anything about uv light, led light or a nail lamp, then its not semi-cured.

Once completely dry, you can wear gel strips for up to 14 days.

They should behave exactly like a salon gel manicure.

How long does it take to cure them?

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The nail strips are only partially cured, so they stay flexible and soft until they are fully cured.

To fully cure gel strips, you do need to finish them off under a uv lamp or an led lamp.

The curing times of gel nail stickers can vary depending on the brand you choose and the lamp you are using.

Some brands are 50% cured, some are 60% cured, and others are 70% cured.

Bare in mind that curing takes longer with a uv lamp.

Some of the semi cured gel nail sticker brands require you to cure 2 or 3 times.

So this could take up to 3 minutes with an led light, or 6 minutes if you’re using a uv lamp.

What colors and designs are there?

semi cured gel nails lots of designs

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a huge choice and the high quality of the strips available.

There are so many colors and designs to choose from, so you’re sure to find something to suit your style.

You can get solid colors and also effects like ombre, marbling or glitter nails.

You can also get artsy strips, minimalist wraps, cute designs, rhinestones and gems, the possibilities are pretty much endless!

What do I need to do semi-cured gel nails at home?

So, what tools and equipment do you need to apply semi cured gel nail strips?

To apply your semi-cured gel nail strips, you will need the following items:

(click to check prices on amazon)

The last 2 items on this list, gel top coat, and oil, are both optional.

You don’t need to use topcoat.

However, I highly recommend using a gel top coat over the top of your gel strips.

It seals in the stickers, adds shine and gives a layer of scratch protection.

It also stops your nails from getting caught in your hair (it’s so annoying when you run your fingers through your hair and they get stuck!).

As for cuticle oil, it’s not essential but it’s always good to keep your nails and cuticles healthy and moisturised.

So if you have some, feel free to use it!

How do you apply semi-cured gel nails – step by step instructions

Here are the detailed steps to follow (complete with tips).

Buff, file and push cuticles back.

Proper nail prep is super important when you’re using stickers.

If you don’t put the effort in to prepare your nails properly, you won’t get optimal adhesion.

Basically what you want to do is create a nice, clean, smooth surface for the gel strips to stick to.

Start by filing your nails to the nail shape you want.

Give your nails a quick wipe over to remove any excess dust (you don’t need to get it all off at this point).

Now, take a nail buffer or a 4 sided buffing block and gently buff the surface of the nails until they feel smooth.

If you have ridges like me, this may take a while.

Give your nails another quick wipe then push the cuticles back with a cuticle pusher or wooden stick.

Remove oils from nail plate using prep wipe.

Once your done filing and buffing, you’ll need to get rid of all the dust and the oils from your nail plates.

If there’s any dust left on your nails, it will cause lumps and bumps and the sticker won’t stay on.

If your nails are oily, then the strip either won’t stick at all or will come off after a day or so.

Most gel strip packs come with a prep wipe as part of the kit. You should always use this!

If you don’t have a prep wipe then you can use a lint-free wipe. Soak it in rubbing alcohol and swipe across the nails.

Choose the strip size you want.

Once your nails are nice and clean, free from any dust and oil, it’s time to select a nail sticker.

Size them up against your nails and find the best fit.

Don’t worry too much about this. You can trim the stickers down, or stretch them to fit if you want to.

Remove the protective film.

Remove the film from the top (some tutorials tell you to leave this on but I find it’s much easier to take it off first).

Peel off the gel sticker.

Once the film is gone, peeling off the sticker is easy.

You can just go ahead and grab the nail sticker.

Match up the cuticle line.

You may have a cuticle line label on the plastic to show you which way up to place the sticker.

The cuticle line side goes next to your cuticle.

Place the strip on the nail.

Position the sticker at the center and then place the strip on the nail.

If you are using a strip that’s a little too big, then match it up to one sidewall and trim the opposite side down with scissors or clippers.

Press it down and smooth out bubbles.

Use a wooden manicure stick to press edges down.

next, take an orangewood stick and run it along the sidewalls and around the cuticle to make sure its sealed.

Clip the tips off with nail clippers.

Use nail clippers or scissors to cut off the excess strip from the free edge.

If your nails are really small, you may want to cut the strips in half before you remove the film.

That way, you can get 2 applications from a single strip.

File off the excess gel strip with a hand file.

Next, file away any untidy or raggidy edges with a hand file.

Angle the file at 45 degrees at the back of your nail and file one way.

Cure under a nail lamp.

Once the tips are tidy and smooth, cure the nails under a uv light or an led lamp according to the instructions on the packet.

Apply top coat (optional).

Apply a topcoat. As I’ve said, you don’t have to use topcoat with these nail strips but I find that it makes them last longer.

Make sure that the topcoat you use is gel compatible.

That’s it – enjoy your shiny new gel manicure!

Here is a video of someone trying gel Ohora Nail Stickers


How can I make my gel strips last longer?

If you want your nails to last as long as possible, make sure you remove all oils from the surface of the nail before you stick them down.

This prevents lifting.

Applying a gel topcoat over the strips can help to prevent scratches, seal them in and make your nails last longer.

How long should you cure semi cured gel nails?

Cure gel strips for 60 seconds under an led lamp or for 2 minutes under a uv lamp.

Exact curing time varies between brands so experiemt and see what works.

Do you need a base coat with cured gel nails?

No, you don’t need to use a base coat with semi-cured gel nails. These thick strips are designed to adhere to the natural nail.

Do you put a top coat over semi cured gel wraps?

Teachnically, you don’t need to use a topcoat with semi-cured gel nails but I find that it makes them last longer.

Topcoats help to protect the nails and make them more durable.

How easy is gel nail sticker removal?

Removal is an easy process. You soak your nails in acetone for 10 minutes and then give them a gentle pull.

Final thoughts:

I hope that my how to apply semi cured gel nail strips guide had helped you out.

Applying semi cured gel nails is a relatively easy process that can be done at home.

You don’t need a base coat, and if you’re not great at painting your nails, you don’t need to worry about getting polish all over your skin.

You cure them under a nail lamp for 60 seconds (or 2 minutes depending on the lamp). So it cuts down on waiting time.

After curing, you may optionally apply a topcoat.

You can even fill them in with a little creative cutting!

A quick google search will show you how.

I hope you enjoyed learning the details of how to do gel strips at home.

That’s the end of my apply semi-cured gel nails strips tutorial.

Happy sticking!

Other posts on this topic:

Semi cured gel nails. Everything you need to know.

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  • Phoebe Meadows

    Phoebe Meadows is a self-proclaimed nail addict, always on the lookout for the latest trends and techniques. When she's not creating stunning nail designs, you can find her researching the latest nail care products or experimenting with new techniques.