Learning to do a manicure at home can certainly help you maintain your grooming routine despite having to shelter in place.
Even if your favorite nail salon remains shuttered for the time being, you can easily achieve clean and polished nails with these quick tips and the right tools for a DIY manicure right at home.
While it may be tricky to get your usual pro-level gel manicure, there’s nothing stopping you from keeping your tips trimmed, your cuticles under control, and your nail beds nourished and polished to perfection. You can use common manicure tools that are easy to come by in drugstores or even online — consider it a small dose of essential self-care in a time of uncertainty.
Home Manicure Tools You Must Have
Your investment in at-home manicure tools really depends on how high-maintenance your nails are. If you’re a basic trim-file-polish kind of gal, you won’t need much, but if you’d like to try your hand at DIY gel nails your needs will substantially increase (like buying your own UV lamp for home use).
The Basics: Nail Clipper, Cuticle Pusher, And More
Store these basic tools in a pouch or case to keep them clean. You can also sanitize them before and after use.
- Nail Clipper: These come in a variety of iterations — diagonal or slanted for the corners, pointed to trim the skin around the nails, or straight for clipping long nails.1
- Cuticle Pusher: This tool helps you gently pushing back the cuticle, which helps keep the nail bed healthy and germ-free.2
- Nail File and Buffer: These help gently soften sharp corners left by cutting.
- Cuticle Oil or Cuticle Cream: These moisturizing treatments help keep skin around the cuticle hydrated and healthy.
- Nail Polish: Simple nude shades of polish and an accompanying base coat and top coat is always great, or opt for gel polish-like finishes for a professional and trendy look.
Once you’ve assembled your tools, you’re ready to begin your DIY manicure (and pedicure).
DIY Manicure Essential Steps: Clean And Trim
Getting rid of old polish, cutting long nails, resolving any hangnails, removing dirt, and checking your cuticle health are the first orders of business when doing a manicure and/or pedicure.
Step 1: Remove Old Or Existing Nail Polish
Swipe a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover over your nails and then wash your hands. Even if you don’t have any nail polish on, this first step can help clean the nail of any oils or residue, which makes fresh polish application later on easier and more effective.3
Step 2: Trim Or Clip Nails And Shape With A Nail File
Use your nail clipper to trim nails, then work your nail file in one direction (not sawing back and forth) to coax your nails into your preferred shape — whether square or oval.
Step 3: Soften Cuticle With Solution, The Push Back Gently
The cuticle provides your nails with the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy, so never trim or cut your cuticles during your manicure or pedicure.4
Instead, get a good cuticle remover solution (available in drugstores) and soak nails to soften the cuticle and nourish the nails. This makes it easier to push back the cuticle with your cuticle pusher tool. Doing this removes any dirt trapped in your nail bed and helps keep your nails strong and healthy.
At this point, you could massage on a coat of cuticle oil or cuticle cream and call it a day. But if you’d like to make your manicure look prettier, getting creative with nail polish is your next step.
How To Apply Nail Polish Like A Pro
To ensure a solid nail polish application, follow these simple steps. And remember, practice makes perfect (especially when using your non-dominant hand).
Don’t Skip The Base Coat
Swipe on a thin base coat polish, making sure to let it dry completely before proceeding. This coat of polish makes your chosen color pop, while protecting your bare nails.
Wait Before The Next Coat
Choose your preferred polish. Thin, even layers are key. Make sure your polish brush isn’t overloaded, then swipe down the center of the nail. Follow up with two passes, one on either side of the initial coat. Wait a few minutes to let your nails fully dry before going again for a second coat — this helps prevent chips, cracks, and bubbles.5
Wrap Up With A Top Coat
Get the best quality top coat polish within your budget — this is the secret to getting gel-like nails. A shiny layer of good top coat seals your polish and keeps your mani looking fresh, even after a few days. In fact, you should reapply your top coat every two to three days — do it right, and you’ll rival your salon gel manicure.6
Make Your Manicure Even More Marvelous: Easy DIY Nail Art Ideas
Now that you’ve nailed the basics, get creative with these gorgeous DIY manicure ideas.
Go Geometric With Scotch Tape
After you’ve made sure your base color is completely dry, cut strips of scotch tape and apply to your nails, creating fun geometric shapes. Use the tape as a stencil or guide to paint contrasting colors over the base color. Remove the tape carefully and seal with a top coat.7
Pick The Romantic Route With Lace
Wrap a small piece of old lace over your nail, and dab polish over it gently with a makeup sponge. It’s a pretty look, for sure.8
Color-Block To Make Nails Pop
Pick a contrasting nail polish and paint your ring finger nails this separate color. It’s a simple yet effective way to be on-trend without going too crazy.
Nailing An At-Home Manicure
Master the home manicure and practice some cute nail art ideas to cheer you up at home. Sure, it can take a little time and patience, but remember that time and resources invested on yourself and your own well-being — even on something as basic as nice nails — is never a waste.
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