How to apply gel polish to toe nails

We wait all year and then finally - that holiday we booked months ago is just around the corner!

As we slide our tootsies into those pretty sandals and flip flops, we need to make sure our gel toe nails are looking perfect.

Applying gel polish to toes can be a bit tricky for those of us who are out of practice so we’ve pulled the ultimate how-to guide together.

Preparation is key

The best time to do your gel toe nails is after you have given your feet a soak in a bath, foot spa or bowl of soapy water. This way all the dead skin has been softened and is easily removed as well as making cutting your toenails a lot easier. You will find that your pedicure will last far longer after giving your feet some TLC. If you have dealt with overgrown cuticles and dead skin around your toe nails, it will help you achieve a longer-lasting gel toe nail manicure.


Take note of your nail health

If you notice any discolouration to your toenails (yellow/green patches) or something that doesn’t look right, please speak to your pharmacist or doctor as this could be a sign of a fungal infection. Using any form of nail covering can make matters worse so it’s best to get treatment as soon as possible. We would NOT recommend using SensatioNail until the nails are fully recovered as you are unable to see the health of the nail while gel polish is on.


Call your bestie

Depending on your flexibility, you might require some help to paint your toenails, but then it’s more fun to have a pamper night with a good friend. You can relax and take it in turns all in the comfort of your own home.


What you will need for your gel pedicure

  • Time – Ensure you are not rushed. Allowed yourself plenty of kid-free/boyfriend-free/distraction-free time to sit down and pamper your tired feet.
  • Space - Ensure you have a safe comfortable place to sit down and use your products. All surfaces need to be covered with old towels or covers in case of spillages.
  • Toe separators or kitchen towel
  • SensatioNail gel nail lamp
  • Gel Nail Cleanser
  • Gel Nail Primer
  • Gel Base/top coat
  • Chosen shade of gel nail polish
  • Glitter or gems if needed
  • Nail art brushes or orange stick
  • Nail file
  • Cuticle pusher/SensatioNail Removal tool

How to apply gel nail polish to your toe nails

  1. Push back cuticles: Using your orange stick, cuticle pusher or SensatioNail removal tool gently push back the cuticle on your toes. Excess cuticle is one of the main reasons gel polish can lift as it creates a barrier between the nail bed and polish.
  2. Buff your nails gently to remove the shine of the nail. This will allow the polish to adhere to the nail. When the nail is super shiny and smooth the polish will simply peel away as it has nothing to grab to.
  3. Cleanse: You should now dust off any debris and cleanse the nails. Cleansing the nails not only removes the dust but also removes unseen natural oils from the nail. These oils can affect the adherence of the polish.
    Top tip: Try to avoid touching your nails from this point forward as you can easily transfer oils and debris onto the nail which will then hinder the adherence.
  4. Separate the toes: Now it’s time to insert the toe separators. You might find that kitchen towel is more comfortable and easier to work with. One sheet is enough to do both feet once cut in half.
  5. Set up your LED Nail lamp: Ensure your lamp is plugged in and placed on a flat surface that is protected by an old towel.
  6. Apply Primer: Gel nail primer is an adherence product that will ensure there is a good bond between your nails and the polish. We especially recommend using primer for toe pedicures as your toes are likely to sit in shoes all day and the rubbing can mean that gel polish may wear off prematurely. 
  7. Make sure you cap the nails with the primer by running the brush along the tip edge of the nail.  Capping will help your pedicure last even longer.
    Top tip: Gel nail primer air dries in 30-60 seconds and will be tacky to the touch. Try to avoid touching the nails.
  8. Apply base coat: Carefully apply your gel nail base coat - avoiding the skin and cuticle area. Cap the nail to seal the edge.
    Top tip: If you get gel polish on your skin or cuticle, use your orange stick to remove it prior to curing.
  9. Cure: Cure the base coat for 15-30 seconds depending on your lamp.
  10. Once cured, your Base coat will be set in place. If you make a mistake the first time you apply the base coat, don’t panic, simply wipe it off and start again remembering to go through the cleansing and primer steps above again.
  11. Apply the gel nail polish: Carefully apply your chosen SensatioNail colour polish being careful not to touch the skin or cuticle. As with the base coat, make sure you cap the edge of the nail. Cure for 30-60 seconds depending on your lamp.
  12. Repeat the colour coat application as above, curing for 30-60 seconds
  13. Apply top coat: Finally apply your gel nail top coat (again avoiding the skin and cuticle). Cap the nail edge to seal the tip and cure for 15-30 seconds
  14. Cleanse your nails using Gel nail cleanser and wipes and marvel at your gorgeous toes!



As with all gel nail application, it’s a good idea to nourish your gel toe nails. We recommend the SensatioNail cuticle oil which prolongs nail health.


First timer?

If you are applying gel polish to your toes for the first time, start with a soft shade that is more forgiving. Reds, dark blues and black will look amazing but will show up any mistakes more than a gentle pink or neutral shade.