Treat Yo’Self: How to DIY an At-Home Manicure
Tips from a Former Manicurist
Ah, yes. I used to do nails. Yes, I am Asian. Yes, Vietnamese. Yes, I know I am very cliched. Sorry ’bout that. But hey. Now I get to give you some tips on how to DIY an at-home manicure, right? You can save some money from those trips to the salon!
Disclaimer and side note: They’re totally talking smack about you.
Let’s just skip my whole sob story about my short career as a manicurist and what a horrible job that was, and get down to business shall we?
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Lotion and water in a bowl
- Cuticle pusher or orange stick
- Cuticle remover cream (optional)
- Nail clipper (optional)
- Base coat, nail polish, and top coat
- Something to read or watch while you wait for the beauty godmothers to work their magic
Let’s get started on your at-home manicure
Start with clean nails. Wipe off any remaining nail polish with a polish remover. I like ones with acetone because they’re efficient, but they can also be very drying so whatever you prefer is fine, so long as it removes all the polish off your digits.
If you’ve got thick cuticles like me, you’ll need to soak your fingers in a bowl of water and lotion or cuticle cream. I just use lotion. To speed up the moisturizing process, I’ll even dab globs of lotion onto my nailbeds and let my fingers soak in more lotiony water. Sorry I didn’t have a more attractive bowl on hand. 😛
Then I take a cuticle pusher (I’m using Sally Hansen’s Push-n-Trim) to gently nudge my cuticles into my nailbed. It’s common practice to cut cuticles, but you should never do that because you might give yourself an infection. You have cuticles for a reason, which is to protect your nails and fingers. If you have excess dead cuticles, you can remove them with a cuticle remover cream.
This Sally Hansen tool comes with a trimmer at one end. If you must, you can very very gently trim your excess cuticles. But be careful or you can catch some skin.
If you need to trim your nails, do so now also. I like to keep my nails short because keeping them long is just one more way to hurt myself. And also, how do girls even function with long nails? How do you do things, like life?
Anyway, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove any lotion or gel from your nails.
Get your polish on
When applying nail polish, you should always use a base coat, which will prevent chipping and staining, and keep your color lasting longer. I’m using essie Grow Stronger Base Coat.
To stave off chipping, apply polish with thin, even coats. You should never apply more than three brush strokes per nail. Gently place the brush at the base of your nail, just touching your cuticle, and stroke downward in the middle. Then stroke each side of your nail. Do up to three coats. This is an awesome video that also explains how to paint your dominant hand with your non-dominant one. It just takes practice but you can manage it perfectly, trust me.
I’m wearing my sister’s borrowed OPI before I have to return it to her this weekend. It’s such a fun color! I’ve been addicted to essie’s polishes, but was pleasantly reminded of OPI’s thick brush. It made for applying the polish a lot easier and smoother. This color was a bit streaky on the first two coats though, to be honest, so I had to apply a third.
Once I’ve got my polish on, I like to let my nails dry for about fifteen minutes depending on how thick the polish went on (some colors need three coats). This is where having something to read or watch comes in handy.
Side note: I was finishing up Crown of Midnight, the second installment in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, and it was de-lish. Made the whole waiting process in this at-home manicure much more bearable and guilt-free.
Then I will finish my nails off with a top coat. I’m using essie No Chips Ahead.
Again, let it dry for about fifteen to thirty more minutes. Yes, beauty takes time! Don’t be tempted to touch it! Don’t be tempted to do anything. I will be watching you. Just rest your hands on top of a surface and do not, do not touch anything. Seriously. Even if you know you’ll be “careful.” That doesn’t exist. It’s like freshly painted nails are a magnet for dents and scratches and fluffy dustbunnies and dog hair and potato chip crumbs. I DON’T KNOW HOW THOSE GOT ON THERE I SWEAR I WASN’T EATING ANY.
And I also hope you went to the restroom before you started. I warned you!
After about thirty minutes, you should be good to go! Simple and easy, no? It’s the perfect way to treat yourself without splurging. I hope you try this at-home manicure yourself!
If you got excess polish on your fingers, you can take a brush dipped in some acetone to gently remove it. If you’re too lazy to do that, it’s okay, it’ll disappear once you wash your hands enough times. 😛
So I’m totally obsessed with essie’s beautiful shades right now. What’s your favorite brand of nail polish? Color? I’m totally into this Sugar Daddy. It’s so subtle and cute, and I woke up with a smile when I saw it first thing in the morning. Oh, the things that make me happy…