9 steps to the best manicure at home
With these DIY tips, the best nail salon in your neighborhood just might be your salon.
While a professional salon manicure is always a treat, the ritual of an at-home manicure can seem just as luxurious if you’re the DIY type. And since we’ve all had a bit more practice over the past year with salons closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be closer than ever to perfecting your technique at home. Of course, you’ll need the right products, including the best nail polish, gel nail polish, and cuticle oils, but you’ll also need a few more tips to achieve the best manicure at home.
There are many secrets to getting your nail polish to last longer at home (like that $ 8 miracle product), but there’s also a lot of bad advice. That’s why we spoke to a few trusted professionals to get the real scoop. Follow these steps to look like you’ve spent time with a talented nail technician in a living room and stay chip-free. Then pair your freshly painted nails with a fabulous home pedicure!
Step 1: Prepare your nails
Whether or not you wear nail polish, any home manicure begins with a thorough sweep with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. That’s because in addition to removing nail polish, it removes natural oils from your nails, and getting rid of them is key to keeping the hairspray in place, according to Dasha Minina, the nail technician behind. Maxus Nails. She recommends using an acetone-based nail polish remover for best results. “Acetone has had a bad reputation in the past, but it’s definitely the best,” she says. “If you go to a professional, they all use it for a reason!” That’s because, she insists, it removes the polish with less traction and friction on the nail bed. And she points out that you can add moisture later after your manicure is finished with cuticle oil. (If you’re wearing gel nail polish, check out this guide to remove it – the process is different.)
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Step 2: shape the tips
Now is the time to straighten your nails into any shape you want. If you want to cut them, do that first to get rid of the length. Then it’s time to file. “When you file your natural nails, you want something less abrasive,” says Annarica (who has a name), owner of Raw Vanity Nail Bar. She recommends choosing a fine-grained nail file to run gently over the tips (hint: look for those marked for “natural nails,” which are less rough than those for gel or acrylic). Then, she says, when it comes to your ranking action, “your sweeps should be done in one direction and light.” This will reduce the friction which can cause wear and tear on your nails.
Step 3: Clean off cuticle residue
Now is the time to remove any cuticle residue from your nail bed. When doing your manicure at home, Minina recommends skipping the soaking step you may be used to at salons, as the amount of scraping a home user does does not require it. Instead, she recommends softening the cuticle before gently pushing it along the nail surface with an orange stick. You can use cuticle remover if you want, but Minina says, “In my salon we use jojoba butter, it softens things better! Plus, it lacks chemicals commonly found in cuticle removers. Try: Planet Guru Jojoba Body Butter, which is naturally squeezed and comes in a jar large enough to last for months of fuss! Speaking of which, when it’s time to pick a color, you might want to pick one toxin free nail polish.
Step 4: Add a base coat
Base coats work a lot like the primer for your makeup – they smooth the surface under the color and help your nail polish stay put. But there’s another reason to use it, according to Annarica: “It protects your natural nail from staining.” Her favorite is Seche Clear Crystal Clear Base Coat, a revolutionary formula that really doesn’t allow the most richly pigmented polishes to leave stains.
Step 5: apply a coat of varnish
The secret to a perfect first coat of varnish? Roll – don’t shake – the bottle to mix the polish without creating air bubbles, says Minina. Then remove the brush from the bottle and “make sure you wipe off the excess on the bottleneck,” she says. “This way you apply a very thin layer.” By the way, these are the subtle things your nail polish reveals about you.
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Step 6: Add a second layer
A second coat will even out the streaks from your first coat, says Minina. The key here is to wait at least two minutes between coats. You might want to add a few more minutes if you can’t get the super fine polish. “The thicker the coat, the longer it will take to dry,” she explains. A step that many DIY enthusiasts skip and which makes all the difference: run your brush along the tips of your nails, which, according to Minina, “seals the edges of the varnish”. This means your polish is less likely to flake!
Step 7: Apply a top coat
A topcoat is a sealer containing hardeners that help “harden” the varnish while adding shine and a final coat of toughness for a chill-free job. Once again, Annarica turns to the Seche brand (essential for many salons) when it comes to top coats. “I love the Seche gel-effect top coat,” she says. “It’s called gel, but it’s an ordinary varnish. It’s amazing quality — super fast drying and so shiny! “
Step 8: Let dry
This is perhaps the most crucial step in getting a beautiful manicure at home. After all, if you get upset, you’ll end up with nicks and stains! Depending on the thickness of your coats, Annarica recommends 15 to 30 minutes of drying with a small fan. Any old fan will do, but if you’re a fan of nail polish, invest in a specific, battery-powered nail polish so you can install it anywhere!
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Step 9: add cuticle oil
Cuticle oil should always come last in your home manicure routine when the smoothness of the oil can no longer spoil the quality of your polish adhesion to your nail. Annarica calls it a must for moisturizing and helping nails stay strong and healthy. Filled with moisturizing oils, these little nutrients are the key to preventing peeling, both on your polish and on your nails! Annarica recommends Nail Magic Thai Essence Cuticle Oil, or you can try this cult Cuccio Naturalé Cuticle Oil which has over 67,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.