How to apply Gel Primer for your nail type

How can I make my gel manicure last longer? We hear you cry. Well, nail preparation and primer are two of the most important steps towards making sure your gel manicure lasts as long as possible.



Gel nail primer quite literally primes the nails - creating an extra sticky layer ready for the gel polish application. Different types of nail will respond best to different amounts of primer. For example, healthy, oily nails will need full primer coverage. The drier your nails, the less primer you will need. Sometimes none at all!

Use the guide below to identify your nail type and understand how best to apply gel primer for your nail type. You can find our full guide to how to do gel nails at home here.

You will need: Gel Nail Primer

Top tip before you start: Use gel primer sparingly, a little goes a long way and allow to air dry for 30 seconds.

Step 1 - Identify your nail type

Are your nails oily?

If your nails are naturally oily, you have healthy nails. Naturally oily nails are strong and well hydrated but this can mean that gel nail polish doesn't adhere well to the nail and primer is required.


Are your nails strong with no flaking or cracking but not much natural oil?

You have what the industry referrs to as 'normal' nails. Normal nails require some primer but not too much.


Are your nails dry, flaky, cracked or likely to break easily?

Depending on the severity of dryness, you have normal to dry or dry nails. 

Step 2 - How to apply


Before you start: Cover the surface you are using with a tray, mat or towel in case of any spillages and make sure your bottles are kept upright.


Very healthy oily nails

Apply primer to healthy oily nails

  • Push cuticle back, file, shape and gently buff your nails to remove visible shine, paying particular attention to the edges
  • Wash hands. We recommend you use washing up liquid – many soaps include moisturisers, which are great for skin but inhibit nail polish adherence!
  • Wipe with cleanser on a lint free wipe and air dry for a few seconds
  • To ensure nails stay clean and dry, do not touch your clothes, hair, skin (or pets!) after this step until you have completed your manicure
  • Apply Primer to full nail
  • Follow with Base coat, cap and cure
  • Apply colour, cap and cure
  • Apply 2nd coat of colour, cap and cure
  • Apply Gel Top coat, cap and cure
  • Cleanse with Gel Nail Cleanser

Healthy oily nails

Apply primer to healthy oily nails

  • Push cuticle back, file, shape and gently buff your nails to remove visible shine, paying particular attention to the edges
  • Wash hands. We recommend you use washing up liquid – many soaps include moisturisers, which are great for skin but inhibit nail polish adherence!
  • Wipe with cleanser on a lint free wipe and air dry for a few seconds
  • To ensure nails stay clean and dry, do not touch your clothes, hair, skin (or pets!) after this step until you have completed your manicure
  • Apply Primer to full nail
  • Follow with Base coat, cap and cure
  • Apply colour, cap and cure
  • Apply 2nd coat of colour, cap and cure
  • Apply Gel Top coat, cap and cure
  • Cleanse with Gel Nail Cleanser

Normal Nails

Apply primer to normal nails

  • Push cuticle back, file, shape and gently buff your nails to remove visible shine, paying particular attention to the edges
  • Wash hands. We recommend you use washing up liquid – many soaps include moisturisers, which are great for skin but inhibit nail polish adherence!
  • Wipe with cleanser on a lint free wipe and air dry for a few seconds
  • To ensure nails stay clean and dry, do not touch your clothes, hair, skin (or pets!) after this step until you have completed your manicure
  • Apply Primer in an oval shape - keeping away from the edges of the nail
  • Follow with Base coat, cap and cure
  • Apply colour, cap and cure
  • Apply 2nd coat of colour, cap and cure
  • Apply Gel Top coat, cap and cure
  • Cleanse with Gel Nail Cleanser

Normal to dry nails

Apply primer normal to dry nails

  • Push cuticle back, file, shape and gently buff your nails to remove visible shine, paying particular attention to the edges
  • Wash hands. We recommend you use washing up liquid – many soaps include moisturisers, which are great for skin but inhibit nail polish adherence!
  • Wipe with cleanser on a lint free wipe and air dry for a few seconds
  • To ensure nails stay clean and dry, do not touch your clothes, hair, skin (or pets!) after this step until you have completed your manicure
  • Apply Primer to the tip of the nail
  • Follow with Base coat, cap and cure
  • Apply colour, cap and cure
  • Apply 2nd coat of colour, cap and cure
  • Apply Gel Top coat, cap and cure
  • Cleanse with Gel Nail Cleanser

Very dry nails

apply primer to dry nails

If you have very dry nails, we do not recommend applying any primer. 

  • Push cuticle back, file, shape and gently buff your nails to remove visible shine, paying particular attention to the edges
  • Wash hands. We recommend you use washing up liquid – many soaps include moisturisers, which are great for skin but inhibit nail polish adherence!
  • Wipe with cleanser on a lint free wipe and air dry for a few seconds
  • To ensure nails stay clean and dry, do not touch your clothes, hair, skin (or pets!) after this step until you have completed your manicure
  • DO NOT APPLY PRIMER
  • Follow with Base coat, cap and cure
  • Apply colour, cap and cure
  • Apply 2nd coat of colour, cap and cure
  • Apply Gel Top coat, cap and cure
  • Cleanse with Gel Nail Cleanser

If you find Primer difficult to apply or struggle with the removal of your gel polish. Why not try our easy off Base coat or Peel-off Nail Shields?

See the Nail Shields video here to find out how they work.

You can find our full guide to how to do gel nails at home here.