How to do a Manicure at Home
Updated: Sep 19
You can get a cheap manicure at the mall, but then you run the risk of some nasty health issues if you go to a less-than-tidy place. You can actually do a really nice manicure in the comfort of your own home, and you might find it even more relaxing, not to mention more cost-effective.
I have never done fake nails, and have no intentions of trying them since they tend to ruin your natural nails. In this “How To” I’ll give you tips on how to grow strong natural nails and do a really nice manicure at home. Set aside some time to do this. You’d have to take some time if you were having them done by a pro, and this is supposed to be relaxing so take this time for yourself.
**Tips on how to grow strong long nails**: I’ve seen a lot of posts online about how to tell if you have a health problem by looking at your nails. I don’t read these. I really don’t need to be paranoid about my nails and neither do you so I’m not going to post anything health-related here. I’ll assume you’re healthy and just need a little help growing your nails out. First, I recommend picking up a tin of Bag Balm. When I was younger my classical guitar teacher recommended this. The
1.) Get together the materials: Assemble the things needed for your manicure ahead of time. Nothing worse than being all relaxed with wet nails and finding out you could really use a drink, or a good movie to watch. Below is a picture of what I like to have on hand. Also don’t feel like you have to spend a lot. There are a ton of nail clippers and supplies all with varying styles and prices. Do what works for you.
A.) Music or a movie (I love to watch Blue Crush)
B.) A Towel to dry your hands with and clean up spills
C.) A nice scrub (I really love Ocean Salt from Lush, but if you’re watching your budget then I would also suggest St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub that you can get at CVS for around $4.00 for a big container.)
D.) A small bowl of warm soapy water
E.) Nail clippers
F.) A plan nail file
G.) Trim Buffing block (these have four panels with four buffing grades)
H.) Cuticle Softener
I.) Cuticle clippers (I recommend actual clippers as opposed to scissors or trimmer sticks because clippers seem to be easier to control.)
J.) Orange Stick (a bamboo stick that has a pointed end and a slanted end used for pushing back and lifting cuticles)
K.) Rubbing alcohol
L.) Cotton balls and Q-tips
M.) Nail Polish Remover (because mistakes do happen)
N.) Nail polish (Base coat, top coat, and color. I’m using Sephora O.P.I 3-in-1 Base, top and Strengthen, and then Spoiled by wet and wild in the color “Toad-ally Amazing”)
O.) A correction pen
P.) Your favorite hand lotion! There are so many out there for so many prices. Whatever you get, just make sure it makes you feel happy and relaxed. I like going to Bath and Body works as you can get some small bottles of lotion for a couple of bucks and there are a ton of different scents. I love Japanese Cherry Blossom (nice during winter and spring), Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin (perfect for fall), and Victoria's Secret Grapefruit and Red Lilly (I wore this all Summer).
3.) Once you’ve washed off the scrub, soak your hands in warm soapy water. This will not only start to soften your nails for clipping but also your cuticles. Soak them for about three minutes or so.
4.) Take your hands out of the water, and start clipping! There are a lot of different styles from round to square. I prefer slightly rounded. If you’re going to be doing a neon color, clip them a little on the short side because neon is loud and can tend to be a bit much on long nails. This is also a good time to fix any broken or chipped nails. Just cut them all the same length even if it’s short, it’s going to look better than having four fingers all with the same nail length and then one gimpy nail.
6.) Once you’re done clipping, filing, and buffing, put come cuticle softener on the upper part of the nail. There will usually be directions on the box or container on how long to leave this on. Once you're ready, put your nails back into the warm water and rinse off the cuticle softener. Use the slanted part of the orange stick to push back and slightly lift the cuticle off of the nails. Now take your cuticle clippers and very carefully remove the cuticle. This should not hurt! If it hurts or bleeds you’re cutting them way too close. You only want to cut the dead skin. After that, do a final wash of your hands with some soap just to make sure everything is really clean.
7.) Take some rubbing alcohol and put it on a cotton ball and rub that on the nails. What this does is remove some of the natural oils that your nails and skin produce. While this won’t ruin your nails if you skip this step, it helps prevent the polish from chipping sooner than it normally would.
9.) Time to start painting. There are a TON of ways to express yourself through your nails and there are Youtube videos and help sites for doing really crazy designs. This is a chance to have fun. While I might do other how-to’s for painting techniques, for this post I’m going to be using a single color especially since I’ve noticed a lot of reality stars and movie stars tend to keep their nails fairly simple with one or two colors. Most polishes require at least two coats. Again make sure to wait around 5 minutes between coats. Otherwise, the nails will take forever to dry.
11.) If you notice a lot of polish on the skin around your nails you can do one of two things. You can buy a Correction Pen (there are wide varieties and many prices so choose one that’s best for you), OR you can use a Q-tip soaked in nail polish remover. Just go around the edges of your nails and clean up the polish.
12.) You’re all done! Take some of your favorite lotions and enjoy the lovely smell and your well-earned manicure!