10 Steps For a Perfect Home Manicure


I love home manicures. Not only do they save you money, but they’re also time-saving and allow you to pamper yourself in the comforts of your own home. Contrary to popular belief, manicures aren’t just for professionals.

Follow these 10 simple steps to give yourself a good salon-quality manicure.

  • Clean your Nails: Remove any nail polish using nail polish remover or acetone. Sally Hansen’s nail polish remover is one of my favorites. Wash your hands after doing this.
  • Clip, File and Buff your Nails: Clip your nails to remove length and file to create the nail shape that you desire. See this post for a guide to filing your nails properly. Lightly buff your nails after filing with a buffer (not your nail file!) to smoothen the nail surface and give it a nice shine.
  • Soak your Nails: Apply a rich hand lotion over your hands and nails. Soak your hands in warm, soapy water for about 5 minutes. This helps soften your cuticles, and you can flip through your favorite magazine while you wait.
  • Push Back your Cuticles: Push back gently with a cuticle stick. Avoid cutting your cuticles as this may cause bacteria to enter the nail.
  • Exfoliate your Hands: Using a hand scrub, rub your hands, wrists, and forearms on dead skin cells. Clean under your nails with a nail brush to remove any dirt. Wash your hands afterward and dry them thoroughly. Your hands should be feeling soft and smooth by now!
  • Moisturize your Hands: The skin on your hands can become very dry if you work in an air-conditioned environment. Use a hand lotion or body moisturizer to hydrate your skin. Take the opportunity to give yourself a mini hand massage and let the moisture soak in.  Wipe your nails with nail polish remover to get rid of the oily texture on your nails.
  • Apply Base Coat: Base coats protect your nails by hydrating and preventing chipping. They also help your nail color last longer. Apply one layer of base coat onto your nail and wait 2 minutes before the next step.
  • Apply Nail Polish: Pick your nail color and apply it to the nail. Check out my guide for applying nail polish perfectly. Wait 2 minutes between each coat. Two coats should be sufficient for most polishes, but you may need a third coat for sheer nail polishes.
  • Apply Top Coat: Give your nails about 5 minutes to dry before applying a top coat. The top coat adds shine and helps your manicure stay perfect for longer. I like Seche Vite’s instant-drying top coat (see this post for my review of the best install-dry top coats).  If you’re using a non-instant drying top coat, you’ll have to wait for at least half an hour before your nails are dry to the touch, and one hour before they are completely trying. Useful tip: soak your nails in icy cold water to get them to dry faster!
  • Clean up Around the Edges: If you have any nail polish on your skin, use a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover to clean up. Let your nails dry for about 5 more minutes. There you have it a perfect manicure that leaves your nails looking as good as they feel!

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