Life’s not perfect, but your nails can be.
One way to make a first impression is by having well-manicured hands. But instead of spending loads on getting a manicure, I like to save some money and do it myself at home!
Every Sunday, I like to take about half an hour, do my nails, throw on a sheet mask and give myself some “me time”. It’s a good way to get back in-tune with myself and think about what I want to accomplish for the week, while making yourself feel a little better.
This post features a quick manicure that shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. This is usually what I do weekly to ensure a long-lasting manicure, but if you want to take the extra step and make it more of a spa-esque treatment, feel free to throw in a soak and exfoliation portion! I might follow up with a quick at-home recipe for a sugar scrub.
Here’s what you’ll need for your at-home mani:
- Non-acetone nail polish remover
- Cotton balls
- Nail file
- Nail buffer
- Cuticle oil
- Nail toner
- Base coat polish
- Your favorite nail polish
- Top coat
First, you’ll need to clean your nails. Take the nail polish remover and saturate the cotton balls and remove any old polish you might have on. Even if you don’t have polish on your nails, use the remover to help take off anything that might interfere with your application process.
I don’t have a preference to which brand of nail polish remover I use, but definitely use non-acetone. The only time I’ll use acetone is if I have a glitter polish on.
One trick that I use to make sure my polish comes completely off is to let the cotton ball sit on my nails for a few seconds before rubbing like crazy. This way, polish won’t stain your skin and it doesn’t waste a lot of time with rubbing.
Next comes filing and shaping the nails. I don’t have the biggest nail beds and I can’t grow my nails long without wanting to bite them all down (bad habit, I know!) so I like to keep my natural nails relatively short.
I’ve recently discovered the Flowery line at Ulta and have stocked up on a bunch of their files. They offer different types of nail files, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and they’re relatively cheap!
Best technique is to file in one direction. Don’t use a back-and-forth motion because that weakens the nail! File them down to the length you want, then use the nail buffer to smooth down ridges and to polish the nail bed itself. Only recently have I actually buffed down my nail bed and I’ve noticed a world of difference in the longevity of my manicure. Normally, my nails lift and peel, but this step helps tremendously.
Once you have your nails filed and shaped, wash your hands to remove the dust and to get a better idea of how the nail looks. If you were to make it a full spa manicure, you can use an exfoliant to buff away dead skin and moisturize your hand afterwards with a hand cream.
Take another nail file, preferably one that isn’t as gritty, to smooth down any bumps and ridges. This is an ideal time to fix any other nails that aren’t short enough to your liking.
Take a cuticle pusher and push down your cuticles. If they’re long, carefully trim them. I prefer the two-in-one pusher that has the blade at the top like this one.
This next step has made my nail routine 100,000% more effective and I highly recommend adopting this into your daily beauty routine. Use a cuticle oil. Personally, I’ve been using this one from Ciate that I picked up in a clearance set last year. The scent isn’t my favorite, but it has helped my nails from peeling and has made them stronger.
Before bed, I like to run the brush across the bottom of my cuticles (more the better honestly) and rub it into my nails. Then, I go in with a heavy hand creme (I’ve been using this one from Cake that I received in an Ipsy Glam Bag. It smells like cupcakes and leaves my hands super soft!).
This next step isn’t totally necessary, but I’ve noticed that it does help with the condition of my nails. Take a nail toner, and put it on the nails before applying the base coat. Once the toner is dry, then proceed with a base coat.
I’ve tested a handful of base coat polishes, and truthfully haven’t found my match-made in heaven yet. However, I have been trying this one from WHIM and I do like it. (Bonus, it’s currently on sale now at Ulta!)
As the base coat dries, apply your polish of choice. This week, I decided to go with Hercules from Formula X. I’m almost positive this color is discontinued because I couldn’t find it anywhere! But rest assured, Formula X has plenty of other color choices!
I read online that said that lighter polishes make your nails weaker, but darker polishes make them stronger, so keep this in mind. My color spectrum is usually neutral tones, or safe choices and as for brands, I tend to stick with high-end polishes like Essie or Formula X.
The best tip for ensuring perfect application is the three-swipe method: Take a the brush and swipe once up the middle of the nail, then hit the sides. This will help make sure that your polish doesn’t streak and that the nail is totally covered. Depending on the polish consistency, two coats normally does the trick.
Top coats are a vital step in your manicure routine and it’s important to invest in a good one. I’ve reviewed this one from Ciate in my January ’17 Ipsy Unbagging. I am absolutely obsessed with it because it’s quick drying and leaves my nails looking like I just splurged on a gel mani!
One swipe of the top coat will ensure that your manicure won’t budge. Let the nails dry fully and you’re done! With using the top coat from Ciate, my mani dries in under ten minutes, but if that’s not available, another quick tip is to submerge your nails in ice cold water for 5-7 minutes.
If necessary, carefully clean up the skin around the nails by using a small detail brush dipped in nail polish remover.