How to Master at Home Manicures

Going to the salon is a fantastic way to feel good about yourself and prioritize self-care. However, multiple trips to the salon can become expensive and time-consuming. That doesn’t mean your look and self-esteem should suffer though! You can keep your nails looking perfectly manicured, even from home. 

Here are the steps to give yourself the perfect at home manicure.

Step 1. Cleaning Your Nails 

Before starting your manicure, wash your hands with a nail brush to clean all dirt from your nail beds and hands. If you have any polish on your nails, you’ll need to remove it with polish remover and a cotton ball or paper towel. 

Running some remover over your nails is a good idea even if you don’t have old polish on because the remover also gets rid of oils and dirt residue. Wash your hands with soap again after removing the polish so the acetone is not left on your nails when you put polish on.

Step 2. Clipping, Filing, and Buffing

Shaping your nails is the next step to an at-home manicure. Clip your nails to the desired length first, then using a file, gently shape your nails to get the shape you want—square, round, or pointed. Use a nail buffer to smooth the edges and create a smooth surface to add polish. 

Step 3. Cuticles 

You’ll need to push your cuticles back using a cuticle remover to help dissolve and soften the skin. Removers will exfoliate your nail bed and make it easy to push back the cuticles using a cuticle stick. Some manicurists will cut cuticles to remove them completely; however, cuticles are vital in keeping your nails soft and healthy, and guard against bacteria, so don’t cut them at home. You can ask the salon not to cut your cuticles next time you go in also. 

Step 4. Hand Exfoliation

Not all salons do a hand and arm massage and exfoliation but the ones that do are the best! Not only can massage help with circulation and relaxing our tendons and muscles, but exfoliation will get rid of dead skin cells and leave our skin glowing and bright. You can exfoliate at home with a hand or body scrub in the shower before you start your manicure, or just before putting on polish. 

Step 5. Moisturize 

Our bodies are more than 70 percent water, yet hydration is a constant need. Even if you drink a lot of water, proper skin moisturizing is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Nail polish remover can also be incredibly drying, so adding more moisture back into your skin, nails, and cuticles is essential. Hand creams, oils, and moisturizers can all be a part of your moisturizing routine. 

Step 6. Four Coats of Polish

The polish application is the most detailed and delicate part of an at home manicure. You will need four coats total to achieve a perfectly polished look.

The first coat you need to apply is the base coat. Base coat is a specific type of nail polish that is nourishing and help the color adhere without staining the nails. 

After the base coat dries for several minutes, you can start your color coats. On the first coat, ensure you paint all the way to the cuticle and edges. Make sure not to overload the brush with paint so that you don’t make a mess of the edges too much. The key to a smooth polish is multiple thin coats. Try to fully coat your nail in just three swipes of the brush. 

Allowing two minutes between each coat, layer on a second and third coat of polish to each nail. Some darker colors won’t need a third coat, but pastels, neon, or lighter shades, might need extra coats for full, opaque coverage. 

The topcoat is another kind of nail polish that will stop your polish from cracking or chipping. Topcoat, also called clear coat, will also make your nails shine. Even though it is clear, make sure to take care in application otherwise ridges will form that can ruin the look of the entire manicure. If you’re going for a matte look to your manicure, you can skip the topcoat, but remember the nail polish will need touched up sooner. 

Step 7. Clean up Edges. 

A perfect manicure is nearly impossible to achieve without a little bit of mess, but polish mistakes can be easily cleaned up with the tip of your cuticle brush or a Q-tip dipped in a bit of nail polish remover. You can also use nail polish remover pads that are folded to a point. Try to clean up the edges of your nails while the polish is still fresh for best results. 

Step 8. Dry

The salon will usually have you stick your nails under the heat lamps to dry, but most people don’t have these tools at home. To dry your nails, just sit still for five minutes and try not to move your hands. If you don’t let your nails dry thoroughly, the polish will smear and look unprofessional. Avoid sticking your hands in front of fans as well as the air movement can cause ridges or smears in the polish. 

The steps above mostly cover a solid coating of nail polish and do not cover how to achieve the perfect French manicure or do any sort of design or detailing. We prefer to leave those steps to the experts! 

Tips and Tricks for At Home Manicures

Now that you know the steps for achieving the perfect at home manicure, let us go over a few tips and tricks you should remember. 

  • To prevent your nails from tearing or splitting, use a soft nail file. 
  • When filing, use long, fluid strokes, in one direction. Do not use sawing motions. 
  • Over buffing can weaken your nails. Aim for just a few swipes across each nail.
  • Never skip the base coat or topcoat if you want your manicure to last. 
  • Keeps coats thin so dry time is minimal.
  • If you choose to use air flow to dry your nails, make sure it is a cool setting and at least six inches away from your nail. 

Manicures at home are super easy to achieve if you have all the right tools in place and the patience to do it yourself. Follow our steps, tricks, and tips, and your nails will look like salon nails with little time or money.

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