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The No-Nonsense Guide to Doing A Manicure at Home

manicure at home
May 6, 2020

Rachael Grant

Doing manicure at home is something many of you have already tried at one point or another. Depending on how skilled you are and how long you wait for your next appointment, you have reached out for the file and decided to do your nails yourself. For many of you, the situation is quite the opposite and you’ve never done your nails yourself, ever. Unless you’re a manicure wizard who has mastered the application of all products and tools in a manicure starter kit, being left without professional help can seem daunting. 

Although there are more serious things to think about while in isolation, great nails can always help to lift spirits and bring a smile on your face. And since staying at home has asked us to reinvent ourselves in the role of hair colourists, spa experts, and nail technicians, you might as well learn a few manicures at-home tips. That’ll take you to a level of decency or, at least, save you from looking like this:

How to Do Manicure at Home without Tools

What do you need to home manicure? Well, the ‘no-tools’ part is only partially true. You will undoubtedly need some tools, which should be in your basic beauty and care kit. We don’t think of a professional manicure table, but you must have a solid flat surface with appropriate height and light so that you have a clear overview of both palms and avoid back and neck pain. 

A professional nail kit can help a lot if you are willing to spend a bit more. Now might be an excellent time to get yourself one as many are discounted. 

If you are not a fan of investing in a home manicure kit, you should at least have these essential items on hand:

  • Nail polish remover (acetone or non-acetone) you can use on natural, gel, and acrylic nails
  • Cotton balls to remove the nail polish.
  • Bowl for soaking fingers to soften the skin. 
  • Warm milk you will use for softening the cuticles and the nails
  • Nail clippers to cut grown nails.
  • Files for nails to shape the nail in the desired shape – oval, rectangular, almond, rounded, or mountain peak. (In fact, there are more than 10 different nail shapes, but it’s best if you do not try all of them at home.)
  • Cuticle stick to gently push the cuticles back to your roots.
  • Almond, walnut, or olive oil, which you will use an alternative to cuticle oil.
  • Buffers for your nails to buff and shine. 
  • Hand cream as a skin and nail moisturiser to wrap up the manicure at home effect.

Assuming you have all of this, you won’t have too much trouble in completing your first at-home manicure procedure. Now, what steps do you need to take to do it properly?

Lifesaving Home Manicure Tips 

The first step would be to remove any old polish. If you use acetone nail polish remover and notice your nails getting dark and brittle, the acetone can be the reason. In that case, switch to non-acetone options. If you have acrylic or gel nails, removing nail polish will not be as simple as removing polish leftovers from natural nails. Additionally, non-acetone removers may not be as effective. First, you will need to remove the nails or the nail base.

Acrylic and Gel Nails

To remove acrylic nails, first clip off the excess nail length and buff the nail ends. Then pour acetone nail remover in the bowl and soak your nails for 5 minutes. Pull back any nail polish with a cuticle remover and use your buffer to remove the rest. You might need to do a second round of soaking to dissolve the nails completely. 

Expert nail technicians wrap gel nails in cotton balls soaked well in acetone and then wrap them in aluminium foil. They do this so that it is easier to scrap the nail polish. Do the same with gel nail polish at home.  All that soaking, pulling, and scrapping will somewhat damage the nails. Take your nail buffer to buff and polish the nails and apply cuticle oil immediately to restore hydration.  

DIY Manicure for Natural Nails  

We all love fab professionally done nails but they do need to take a breather occasionally.  Staying at home is the best time to grow your natural nails and provide that oh-so-needed restoration time. Let your nails grow but don’t forget to take proper care of them. You will still need to clip, buff, and nourish them. Isolation hours are also an excellent time to try the newest popular nail polish shades. That will keep you busy for some time, not to mention that freshly coloured nails that are very Instagram worthy.  But before you spruce them up with polish, you need to do the prep legwork. 

Step #1: Soak cotton balls in non-acetone polish remover and gently press against the nail to let the chemical do the job – no need to rub off the polish harshly.

Step #2: Fill in the bowl with warm milk or make a solution of ½ warm milk and ½ water, and soak your fingers for 5-10 minutes.

Step #3: Push cuticles back by using the wooden or metal cuticle stick. Wooden sticks are gentle to the skin and disposable so they are suitable for salons. For personal use for a manicure at home, you can rely on one metal cuticle remover.

Step #4: Clip and buff nails. Polish the nails with a nail buffer to eliminate coarse ends and shape rounded, squoval, or oval edges. Don’t experiment with more complicated shapes: better leave them to when you visit your nail salon. Pay attention to the nail surface if you are going nail-polish-free.

manicure at home

Step #5: Apply cuticle oil, let it penetrate the nail and the surrounding skin for a while.

Step #7: Moisturise hands and nails. Use a mask or a cream. If you have time to spare, leave it for 15 minutes. Remove the excess with paper tissues. Be thorough with the nails if you apply nail polish afterwards. You can use a mixture of soap and warm water to quickly dip in the nails and remove extra oils from the moisturiser. 

Finally, applying nail polish is the last, most rewarding step of the home manicure. Hold your hands out and admire the results of your efforts. Check out this guide to using nail dip powders for novel nail embellishment that replaces conventional liquid polishes. In the end, your hands may not look like being done by a nail tech. However, it is a hundred times better to engage in this act of self-care even if it is not perfect than leaving your nails to grow and deform in unwanted ways. 

Congrats on doing your nearly-expert at-home manicure!

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