At Home Manicures: A Step-by-Step Guide
Whether you go for long acrylic claws or a short, neat manicure, getting your nails done is a true pleasure that helps you look and feel your best. But what if you’re on a tight budget or you’re unable to get to the nail salon? Learning to do your manicure at home can save you a lot of time and money and give you a chance to flex your creative muscles.
Types of Manicure
Here are some of the most popular types of manicures available in salons. Some of these are possible to do at home, while others require specialised skills and tools.
- Basic Manicure – This is the most basic type of manicure on offer at a salon. The nail tech soaks your fingers in warm water, then they clip, file, and buff your nails, push back your cuticles, and apply your preferred polish. It finishes with some cuticle oil and an arm massage. A French manicure is a common variation, in which the nail bed is painted a pale pink, and the tips painted bright white.
- Gel Manicures – Also known as shellac, gel manicures follow the same process as the basic manicures but use a gel polish cured twice under UV light. This polish can last up to three weeks without chipping and tend to look even shinier than regular polish. A potential downside is that gel polish has to be soaked or filed off.
- Acrylic Nails – Acrylic overlays are made of a mix of powder polymer and a liquid monomer, resulting in a hard, shiny layer that protects your natural nail. Best of all, acrylics can be extended over the length of your nail, giving you the long claws you’re craving.
- Dip Powder Manicure – Dip powder manicures are kind of like a cross between a classic manicure and acrylics nails. Instead of polish, the colour and gloss come from a highly pigmented powder. They last quite a long time and do need soaking off to be removed.
Are manicures good for nail health?
In the past, you may have heard people complain that manicures dried out their fingernails and made them thin and brittle. That’s because nail polish remover and the polishes themselves used to contain some pretty harsh ingredients, including acetone. Today’s products are much gentler, and you can even buy nail polish brands that claim to moisturise and hydrate your nails.
Regular manicures can actually be beneficial to your nails, as the regular moisture and attention to your cuticles and nail beds can help to repair and hydrate.
Hydration is critical for taking care of your nails, so if you want to keep your nails looking and feeling their best, some time off manicures can really benefit them. While they don’t need to ‘breathe’, a break from polish can give you a chance to moisturise your nails with creams and oils.
How to give yourself a manicure
Even if you’re a whiz at home manicures, it’s hard to get consistent results. Follow this guide to get the salon-worthy nails you desire in just ten steps.
You’ll need the following tools to complete your dreamy at-home manicure.
- Nail polish remover
- Cotton balls
- Nail clippers
- Nail file
- Buffing block
- Cuticle remover
- Cuticle stick
- Exfoliating scrub
- Hydrating hand lotion
- Base coat
- Nail polish
- Cuticle oil
This can be quite a big investment at first, but just think of all of the money you’ll save by doing your own nails. While you might be tempted to buy the cheapest clippers, files, and polishes, it does pay to invest in higher quality tools and products. Not only will they last longer, but the results will also look better.
Of course, if you find yourself enjoying this newfound hobby, why not enrol in one or more nail courses? You’ll improve your skills and learn how to do beautiful nails for your friends and family. It could even become your new career path.
Step 1 – Clean your nails – Start by giving your hands a wash and your nails a good scrub, and then dry them thoroughly with a towel. Air dry for a few more minutes to ensure they’re well and truly dry. Next, use a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover to wipe away all traces of nail polish, dirt, grime, and oils from your nails. This prepares them for the treatments to come.
Step 2 – File and Buff – Start by clipping your nails down to your desired length, and then use a fine file to shape them into your preferred shape gently. If you are having trouble, hold the file flush to your nail and then file from a slightly tilted angle. Next, use a buffing block to even out your nailbed and create a perfectly smooth canvas for your polish.
Step 3 – Use a cuticle stick – Add a few drops of a cuticle remover to your cuticles, and massage it in with your fingertips. Balms and oils won’t help here, so ensure you’re using the right product. Once your cuticle remover has had a chance to work, push back your cuticles with a cuticle stick. We don’t recommend cutting or clipping your cuticles, as they are there to protect your nails and can become irritated or infected.
Step 4 – Exfoliation – Have you ever wondered why your hands look so great after you leave the nail salon? It’s because they don’t just do your nails; they also look after the skin on your hands and arms! To replicate this at home, use an exfoliant, preferably one with an oil base for extra hydration. Then, rinse off, and make sure to dry thoroughly when you’re done.
Step 5 – Moisturise – Now that you’ve removed any excess dead skin, it’s time to add more moisture to make your hands and nails smooth and supple. First, apply a lightweight moisturiser that will absorb quickly into your skin. Then, make sure to dry them thoroughly when you’re done and swipe each nail with nail polish remover once again to remove excess oil.
Step 6 – Apply your base coat – A base coat is a specially designed polish that lays down a smooth coating so your nail polish can sit nicely on top. Add your base coat and let it dry for at least two full minutes before moving on to the next step. If you have a bit more time, let them dry for even longer between coats.
Step 7 – Your first coat – Now it’s time to kick things up a notch and start applying your colour. Apply a thin coat, using the brush to get into the sides of each nail and down to the cuticle line. Try to load up the brush with just enough polish so that you can apply the product in one smooth, even coat. Again, wait a full two minutes between coats.
Step 8 – Your second (and even third) coat – Now that you’ve waited at least two minutes, you can add your second coat of polish. Depending on the colour and formulation, you may even want to do a third coat. Pastel or sheer colours usually require at least three coats to get uniform coverage.
Step 9 – Seal everything in with a topcoat – Topcoats are one of the main reasons why your salon nails look shinier than a typical DIY job. Change all of that by adding a topcoat at home – it protects your work and gives you the glossy appearance you crave. After you’ve applied the topcoat, be sure to let your nails dry for 20 minutes or even longer. Remember – they’ll be a bit soft for up to 24 hours, so take it easy. It’s a great way to get out of chores and washing up!
Step 10 – Clean up the edges and apply cuticle oil – After your nails have fully dried, have a look for any smudges or smears. You can clean those up by wrapping a piece of the cotton ball around your cuticle stick and dunking it in nail polish remover. Use this tool to trace the shape of your nails and keep things crisp and neat. Finally, drip a few drops of cuticle oil on your nail beds and rub it into your cuticles. Ta-Da! Your nails look amazing.
A dazzling manicure doesn’t have to cost the world
By taking some extra time and care to follow these ten steps, you can get a salon finish from the comfort of your own home. Your friends will be amazed at your talent, and your pocketbook will thank you.