How to Size and Apply Nail Tips: A Comprehensive Beginner Tutorial

In this blog article, we’ll dive deep into the world of nail tips, one of the hottest trends in the nail art world. This fun and easy-to-use nail art technique has taken the beauty world by storm, and we’re here to help you master it. We’ve got you covered, from the tools you’ll need to the step-by-step application process.

Tools Needed To Apply Nail Tips

To begin with, you will need to gather some materials. Here are the materials you will need:

  • Alcohol and acetone
  • Gel Liquids
  • UV LED nail lamps
  • A box of nail tips
  • E-file and file bits
  • Nail tools, such as dusting brushes, nail files, buffing blocks, cuticle pushers

Firstly, you will require alcohol and acetone. I recommend purchasing these liquids from your local drugstore, Walmart, or Target rather than online unless it is absolutely necessary. You can get 70% alcohol and acetone from these stores.

Next, you will need some gel liquids, such as a gel base coat, a no-wipe gel top coat, and a gel adhesive to glue the jelly tips onto your nails. Different brands may use different names for the gel adhesive, such as builder gel, cactus jelly, or extend gel, but their purpose is the same.

You will also require UV LED nail lamps for the curing process. I use two lamps for my jelly tip application process, a quick flash-curing lamp and a 48-watt lamp, to ensure my gel is fully cured on my nails.

Additionally, you will need a box of tips, which companies generally sell in boxes, not bags. Ensure that you purchase gel tips and not ABS plastic tips, as gel and acrylic are forms of plastic.

An e-file and file bits are also recommended for use during the application process. You can get an inexpensive e-file, and the two drill bits help flush out the cuticle line and etch the underside of the jelly tips.

Lastly, get yourself some paper towels, lint-free wipes, and a primer such as a gel bonder.

Don’t forget your tools, such as a dusting brush, nail files, buffing blocks, cuticle pushers, and a silicone tool for removing any seeped-out gel.

I hope this list of supplies helps you understand all the tools you need for a jelly tip application. Nothing is worse than being unprepared during the nail process and waiting for tools to arrive in the mail.

How To Size Nail Tips

Sizing your nail tips is critical to ensure that they fit correctly, last a long time without lifting, and that you get the right fit for your nails.

How To Measure False Nails

It is significant to note that not all nail tips are the same, and this is not a bad thing, but it simply means that there are many options for different nail shapes, widths, and lengths. The key to using jelly tips and ensuring they last is to have the correct size.

To do this, you need to fit the jelly tips to your nails and ensure they fit from sidewall to sidewall. Not all brands have the same size range, and it may take some time to either fit the jelly tip to your nails or find a brand that suits you better.

When fitting the jelly tips, it is significant to keep in mind that there may be times when the nail tip does not fit your nail or the curve of your cuticle area perfectly, and you may have to either file it in or go up or down in size. This process may look different for everyone, as our nail and finger shapes are unique. It is recommended to shape the tips until they fit your nails slowly and to check routinely to make sure you don’t file off too much and ruin the nail tip.

In the process of customizing the tips to fit your nails, it is essential to remember not to force the tip down on your nail to make it fit. When you place the tip flat on your nail, it is okay if there is a gap when you turn it to the side, as this gap will be filled with builder gel.

In the case of customizing the middle finger to fit your nail, you may notice that the cuticle on the tip is flat, but the cuticle on your actual finger is more rounded. In this situation, you can use a finer side of a hand file to file in the sides where the cuticle is, trying not to file the top too much to make it more circular. If your cuticles are flat, but your jelly tips have rounded cuticles, you may need to flatten the top instead of rounding it out.

The Importance of Preparing Your Nails and Nail Tips

Just like any nail enhancement that you use and put on your nails, it is crucial to properly prep your nails for long-lasting wear, so you don’t experience lifting or popping off. Since you’ll be working with a tip, it’s also necessary to prep the tips to ensure that they don’t pop or peel off easily.

How To Prepare Nail Tips

The first step you need to do is to etch the underside of the jelly tips. This is important because the gel does not like to stick to smooth surfaces, so if your jelly tip is too smooth, you might experience it popping off clean off of your builder gel. To etch the underside of the tips, you can use an e-file or a standing band without an e-file. If you choose an e-file, I recommend using a medium grit cone bit. Be careful not to file in the same spot way too many times, as you can file through the jelly tip.

After etching the jelly tips, it’s crucial to dust them off on the underside and top side to ensure a clean surface for primer application. It’s also optional, but recommended to use a hand file or e-file to rough up the surface of the cuticle area and side walls to create a seamless line from the cuticle all the way to the free edge.

Next, apply a gel primer to the underside of the jelly tips. Be sure to scrub the primer into the jelly tip rather than float it on the product. This helps to etch the grooves even more and creates a nice tacky surface for the gel to stick to.

How To Apply Nail Tips

Now that you have the necessary tools and appropriately sized nail tips, it’s time to apply them. Follow these steps for a flawless application:

  • The first step you want to do is remove any old polish or residue from your nails. You can clean your nails by rubbing alcohol and a paper towel to disinfect and sanitize them.
  • Trim and shape your natural nails using a hand file.
  • Push back your cuticles gently with a cuticle pusher.
  • Buff the surface of your natural nails to remove any shine and create a better surface for the nail glue.
  • Apply two coats of primer to your natural nails. Remember to use thin layers and etch the primer into the nail.
  • After the primer has had enough time to air dry, apply a thin layer of gel base to your natural nail, being careful not to touch your skin.
  • Depending on the brand you’re using, you might also need to apply a thin layer of cactus jelly or builder gel.

In Conclusion

Well, there you have it, folks: the ultimate guide to creating gorgeous, shimmering jelly-tip nails. From choosing the right tips to mastering the application process, we hope we’ve given you all the tools you need to create a show-stopping look. So go ahead, dazzle the world with your new jelly tips, and let your nails shine!


  1. How long do nail tips last?

Nail tips can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending on how well you apply and maintain the nail tips.

  1. Can I use regular nail polish with nail tips?

Yes, you can apply regular nail polish over nail tips. But apply a base coat and a top coat for added durability and shine.

  1. Are nail tips bad for my natural nails?

When applied and removed correctly, nail tips should not cause any damage to your natural nails. Be sure to properly prepare your natural nails and avoid using excessive force when removing the nail tips.

  1. Can I reuse nail tips?

Nail tips are generally meant for single use only. Reusing nail tips can lead to contamination and compromise the integrity of the nail tip.

  1. How do I remove nail tips?

Soak your nails in acetone-based nail polish remover to remove nail tips for approximately 15 minutes. Gently lift the nail tips using an orangewood stick or cuticle pusher. Avoid pulling or forcing the nail tips off, as this may cause damage to your natural nails.

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