Beauty + Wellness

5 Steps to Doing a Perfect Manicure Yourself!

nail polish

I love getting my nails done. They look great when someone else does them! I’m not a professional, so in the past when I tried to paint them myself, it never looked quite the same. But manicures are expensive, and I wanted to learn how to do a better job on my own. So the few times that I got a manicure in the last year I really watched what was going on and I asked questions, which leads me to this post!

To get a perfect manicure, start with the right tools. (An investment up front, but it will save you $ in the long run)!

You will need: 

  • A manicure kit (you can find a basic one at Walmart/Target that’ll work fine) that includes a buffer block, a quality nail file, an orange stick, and cuticle trimmers
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar
  • A paper plate/paper towel
  • A quality nail polish (not Chanel, but not the dollar kind either- the consistency is poor compared to mid priced ones like Essie/OPI)
  • A small flat paintbrush
  • Nail polish remover

Step 1: Hand Scrub

A great professional manicure always starts with a hand scrub. This is easy to do yourself by mixing olive oil and sugar to make a paste, then gently scrubbing it all over your hands. Wash off before Step 2.

Step 2: Buff

I like the 5 sided buffers, but really any kind will do.

Step 3: Cuticles

Push your cuticles back with the orange stick (putting a little olive oil on them helps if they’re dry). Trim the excess with the cuticle trimmers (but don’t cut too close/be careful not to cut yourself with them). Wipe/wash the excess oil off.

Step 4: File

The biggest thing I noticed I was doing wrong when painting my nails is that I was holding the nail file wrong and I wasn’t getting the shape I wanted. I was holding the nail file up and down against the ends/sides of my nail (imagine your finger and the file making a “T” shape), and moving it back and forth. They don’t do this at a salon. At a salon, the nail tech holds the nail file flat to your nail, and files from underneath it, usually in only one direction (the file and your nail make an upside down “V” shape). This sounds and looks odd until you try it and realize it’s much easier to get a good shape this way, and your nails aren’t shredding in the process.

Step 5: Paint!

Roll the sealed nail polish bottle in your hands to mix the color if it’s separated. Start by wiping the excess off the brush on the rim. For each nail, put a drop of color in the center as close to the base of the cuticle as you can without actually touching it. Drag the color towards the tip of your nail. Repeat on the left and right sides of each nail. Wait patiently for the color to dry (at least 10 minutes). Repeat again with a second coat; swipe a small amount of color across the tip of each nail to seal the color/prevent chipping on the ends.

If you make a mistake, don’t correct it with a cotton ball! These will stick to your nails and mess them up. Instead, take the flat paintbrush and dip it in nail polish remover, and then run it along the messed up side of your nail to remove wayward polish.

Letting your nails fully dry is key to not ruining all your hard work! This could take 30 or more minutes, but it’s worth it!

What are your favorite mani/pedi tricks and tips? I’d love to hear them!

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