I’ve always been someone who loved doing her own nails. I owned a veritable rainbow of nail polish colors all of my life, starting in my teen years from my days of roaming the aisle’s of FX on Queen street West in Toronto, and their incredible nail polish collection. I loved creating my own nail looks at home, showing them off at school (and usually getting in trouble because nail polish was against the archaic dress code). These days, the treat (and excitement) of getting sent to the principal’s office for my outlandish manis no longer looms over my head, but I still love doing my own nails at home. And thanks to a few handy tools, I can now achieve the cool chrome looks I loved back in the 90s at home, in long lasting gel polish form.
Invest in a home curing light
The beauty of shellac is how it dries to a hard, shiny, long lasting and durable finish. In order to achieve that finish, the gel polish must be cured under an LED lamp for 30 seconds to 1 minute per coat. The lamp doesn’t need to be as big or intense as your average salon lamp. I like the Sensationail LED lamp that comes with their starter kit. It runs for 30 seconds automatically when you place your fingers under the lamp, and takes up very little room when you’re not using it. The kit also comes with a gel nail color to get your collection started.
Prep your nails to be painted
Just like any manicure, your nails need to be prepped before painting them with gel polish. Gently push your cuticles back, buff your nails, and file and shape them for the look you prefer. A good rule of thumb is to mirror the shape of your nail to the shape of your nail bed. If your nails are longer, consider a coffin shape (a tapered shape that ends in a rounded square edge). If your nails are shorter, consider a square shape for a neat and tidy look. I chose to file to an almond shape (a rounded shape that tapers to a gentle point) as a couple of my nails had broken, and I wanted to create the illusion of length to ensure my manicure looked as even as possible.
The most important thing to do however, is to clean the nail thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, and painting the nail with a primer to prep the nail for polish. Gel polish will not properly adhere to an oily surface, so this is an essential step, especially if you use cuticle creams or oils in your prep process. The Sensationail Essentials Kit has you covered for primer and cleaner to get your nails ready for the gel polish step.
Carefully paint your nails with a base color
Chrome is generally meant to be applied over a coat or two of a base gel color, in order to help the chrome stand out and show its full color potential. As I wanted a darker overall tone to my mani, I chose black as my base color. I painted 2 thin coats, being careful to keep the paint job neat and accurate, cleaning any stray polish from my skin. Keeping your edges are clean helps to ensure the mani lasts longer, with fewer chances to lift from the nail. After each coat is carefully painted, cure the nails under the LED lamp for 30 seconds to 1 minute per coat. Next, you’re ready to chrome!
Apply the chrome powder
After you’ve cured your 1 to 2 coats of base color, apply a layer of a no wipe clear gel top coat. This is necessary for the chrome powder to adhere to. Once you’ve painted all your nails, cure under the LED lamp for 30 seconds. From here, carefully open your chrome powder container as it’s quite prone to spilling, and use a sponge eyeshadow brush type tool (usually your powder will come with one) apply a thin coat of powder to the nail. Ensure you cover the nail evenly, paying special attention to the edges, in order to achieve a uniform finish for maximum impact. I chose Sensationail’s chrome powder in purple and a black base to create a chic dark look that works for winter, with a bit of an edge. Apply another coat of the no wipe topcoat (the Sensationail chrome kit comes with its own No-wipe topcoat) and cure for 1 minute.
Clean up your mani
Be sure to file any excess gel polish from the edges of your nails, especially the top coat as it dries clear and can be hard to spot. This is also important for the longevity of your manicure. As well, chrome powder tends to get everywhere when you’re using it, so it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly after you’re done curing your nails. Pay special attention to the nailbed, and treat yourself to a cuticle cream or oil on your cuticles after you dry your hands.
And voila, you’ve got your very own home chrome manicure! Enjoy!