The Expert Guide to Jaw-Dropping Home Manicures

Get A Salon-Quality Manicure At Home

If there’s one thing all women want it’s beautiful nails. From our grandmothers to our granddaughters, and every woman in between, women want those sleek, stylish nails that grab attention. Sure, we can get them from a salon, but that’s both time-consuming and pricey. What’s the ideal solution? A DIY home manicure, of course!

“How does one do a home manicure,” you ask? That’s the question we’re about to answer. Below is our in-depth four-step guide to creating what we feel is the perfect home manicure. If you follow our tips below, you’ll be sure to both save time and save money while maintaining salon-quality nails.

Are you ready? Here we go… Good luck!


Step 1. Get It Together: Gathering Your Tools & Supplies

The perfect manicure begins with the perfect supplies. Skimp on supplies and you’ll be cheating yourself out of an optimal manicure from the get-go. This doesn’t mean you have to buy expensive products; there are bargains to be had — luxury-quality supplies at low costs. My advice is to search online for the best value products out there. Once you’ve found them, stick with them. This is a one-time occurrence that will save you big money in the long run, all without sacrificing quality.

manicure supplies

Necessary Supplies:

  • cotton balls, pads, or swabs
  • cuticle remover gel
  • nail brush
  • nail clippers (nail trimmers)
  • nail file (emery board)
  • nail polish
  • nail polish remover (preferably acetone-free for those with sensitive nails)
  • nail coating (base and top)

Optional Supplies:

  • cuticle balm
  • cuticle oil
  • cuticle or hand cream
  • hand moisturizer
  • nail buffer
  • soap
  • washcloth

Once you’ve rounded up all of your supplies, it’s time to setup one of the most neglected parts of a getting great home manicure: your workspace.

Step 2. Make Your Workspace Shine

The area in which you perform your manicure plays a big role in its outcome. While it may be tempting to grab a paper towel and perform a quick and easy manicure while watching TV, chances are this would lead to horrific results.

If you want beautiful nails that will make you the envy of your friends, you’ll need to set up a workspace. This will allow you to work in an orderly, efficient manner, making things easier for you and lowering the risk of mistakes.

What Kind of Workspace Should You Use?

So, what kind of workspace should you use?

First, you’ll want to use a solid, flat surface — preferably a manicure table — which is large enough to hold all of your supplies, while also allowing your hands freedom of movement. You’ll want your supplies to be within arm’s reach, but not so close as to restrict the positioning of your hands.

Be sure your surface is clean before you begin your manicure. Wipe it down thoroughly to remove any

manicure workspace

specks of dust, loose hairs, or any other undesirables that could become mixed in with your polish, causing you annoyances.

If your table isn’t resistant to your supplies (specialist tables will be; other tables, likely not), lay down paper towels or another covering to protect its surface.

Likewise, make sure you remove any other objects which could be harmed by your supplies (jewelry, for example).

If you want to be extra cautious, change into old, worn-out clothing beforehand to avoid the risk of staining a nice outfit.

You Need Good Lighting

An absolute must for your workspace is good lighting. You’ll need to see your nails with clarity in order to be confident your manicure is done to a satisfactory level. Certain overhead lighting may be adequate, however, a bright, clear lamp — especially one which is adjustable — is preferable. As a nail artist, you’ll want to see your artwork in all of its glory.

Your workspace shouldn’t be near any fans or any other sources of strong wind. Air tends to produce bubbles in polish, including smaller ones hidden beneath the surface of freshly-painted nails.

Strategically Order Your Polishes

One last tip is to have your polishes lined up in the order in which you’ll be using them. This will allow you to quickly find the polish you need while minimizing any risk of smudging while searching through them.

Once you’re confident your workspace is setup properly, it’s time to begin the journey to nail perfection!


Step 3. It’s Show Time! Preparing Your Nails For Perfection

Now that you’ve created the ideal area in which to work, it’s time to begin preparing your nails.

Remove Old Polish

The first thing you’ll want to do is remove your old nail polish. Simple nail polisher remover and cotton (either swabs or nail preparationballs) should do. Do note that nail polish remover containing acetone may dry out your nails, causing slight damage to sensitive nails. If your nails fit that definition, you might want to opt for an acetone-free remover. An added benefit of acetone-free removers is that they don’t release irritating fumes. This is something to keep to mind as you’re shopping for supplies.

Don’t Soak Your Hands!

While manicurists use to advise soaking your hands, this practice is now frowned upon. The reasoning is that the moisture from the water will expand your nails, which can lead to both cracking and issues with polish coming lose when the nails dry and shrink. I recommend that you avoid soaking your hands in water unless you feel it’s absolutely necessary for whatever reason.

Trim & File Your Nails

Next, you’ll want to trim and file your nails, getting them to the length — and shape — you desire. From my experiences, a fine-grade emery board with a grit of 280/320 produces the best balance of filing prowess while also being delicate enough not to damage your nails. If you find this isn’t the case, then adjust accordingly. If you have any prior experience with home nail care, you should know what works best for you. Stick with it.

While it’s natural to want to use a file in a back-and-forth, saw-like motion, this is quite harmful to your nails. The harshness of the rough, back-and-forth motion is prone to tearing the tissue of the nails. Instead, file in a single, smooth motion — a much more gentle treatment of your precious nails.

One optional step is buffing your nails. Using a nail buffer (either a stick or a pad will do) and buffing powder, buff the surface of the nail a ever so softly to even it out and to smooth out unaesthetic ridges. Keep in mind that over buffing your nails could result in weakened nail. Don’t worry about getting them perfect; just buff them enough to eliminate the deeper, more noticeable flaws.


Step 4. Create Your Artwork

The first thing you’ll want to do is apply a base coat with a ridge filler. This will create a beautiful, smooth-as-silk surface — the perfect foundation for a perfect manicure.

Apply Your Nail Polish

Next up, you’ll want to apply your nail polish. The most well-known brands got that way for a reason: They tend to be the highest quality polishes. While it may be tempting to go for the dirt-cheap polish, don’t! There will almost certainly be a sizable loss in quality. Buy quality polish, and you’ll not only get a more aesthetically-pleasing manicure, you’ll get a manicure that stays fresh longer, giving you more bang for both your buck and your time.

You can find some great deals on nail polish on Amazon (disclosure: affiliate link).

If your polish has been sitting around for a while, the chemical formula may have separated.

Contrary to popular thought, the solution isn’t to shake the bottle, which can cause unwanted bubbling. Instead, turn the bottle upside-down and roll it between your hands in a firm, rapid manner. Voilà! Formula mixed, bubble-free.

To get the perfect coating, you’ll want to use three thin strokes for each nail, which should be enough to cover the entire nail (divide your nail into thirds and give a single stroke to each segment).

Don’t Overdue the Polish!

It’s tempting to apply several thick layers, I know, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. Those negatives include a much longer drying period and a greatly increased chance of lifting.

Stick to two thin coats (three if you’re feeling frisky) and you’ll achieve perfection.

Dip the polish brush into the bottle and then use the lip of the bottle to remove excess polish, making sure to keep just enough to complete your nail.

Press your brush against your nail, gently, so that the bristles widen and cover the entire segment of nail your painting. Then, run it smoothly up and down the nail, covering the entire segment in a thin layer.

Once you’re done, and the first coat has been given adequate time to dry (usually around five minutes), go over it a second time, making sure the coating remains thin.

Polish From Pinky to Thumb

Be sure to polish your nails from the outside, working in. That is, from your pinkie to your thumb. By doing it in this order, you avoid situations where your polishing hand is overlapping previously-painted, drying nails, eliminating the possibility of any annoying smearing or smudging, saving you time and a lot of headaches.

If you make any mistakes while painting, be sure to wipe it up before the polish dries.

There are methods to speed up the drying process, however, these tend to be risky and can cost your manicure a level of quality. My advice is to stay patient and let your nails dry in a natural manner. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t much time, and the payoff will be well worth it.

Conclusion: Enjoy Your Nails, And Don’t Forget To Share!

There you have it! If you follow our steps above, we’re confident you’ll get the nails you want and love.

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them!

If you’ve gotten any use out of this guide, then we’d love it if you could share it. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, your own website — anywhere you can share it would make us smile. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

If you liked our ultimate guide to home manicures page then be sure to check the following pages too!

Load More (29)


We Heart Nails