Steps to Creating the Perfect Manicure at Home

Visiting the nail salon is a love-hate battle. One the one hand, you want to have pretty nails that complement your style and make you appear fully put-together. But on the other hand, professional manicures are pretty costly (it really adds up if you’re going at least twice a month), they take up quite a bit of time, need to be scheduled in advance, and may not be very sanitary.

To solve this dilemma, one of the best things you can do is learn to paint your own nails at a professional level. By giving yourself an at-home manicure, your hands will look great, you can save tons of money, and you’ll be completely certain your tools are clean. Now that’s what we call a win-win-win!

Step 1: Assemble your materials

Cosmetics and accessories for manicure or pedicure | iStock.com/ratmaner

Make sure you have all the right tools. | iStock.com/ratmaner

Before officially getting started, it’s important to make sure you have all the equipment you’re going to need at the ready. This includes a basin of hot water, your nail cutters, nail polish remover, a nail file, buffer, cuticle stick, three types of nail polish (more on that later), and moisturizer.

Step 2: Remove all leftover nail polish

Removing nail polish

Remove old nail polish before starting. | iStock.com/Josfor

A word of advice: Do not try to paint over chipped nails. The results will be a clumpy and unevenly colored mess, and it won’t save you any time in the end. To get perfect nails, you need to fully remove all remaining nail polish (even if it’s just a light color or clear coat) and start fresh. We recommend using an acetone-free polish remover, which isn’t as harsh and drying.

Step 3: Cut and file your nails

Girl makes a manicure

After cutting your nails, grab a file. | iStock.com/margostock

Once your nails are completely free of polish, it’s time to get the desired shape you like. Using nail cutters, trim your nails to your preferred length. Then, take your nail file to round or square off the edge.

Step 4: Buff your perfectly shaped nails

woman in a nail salon receiving a manicure

This tool really is a must. | iStock.com/Ridofranz

Many people skip this essential step, but we know it’s worth doing if you want a manicure-grade finish. Buffing your nails involves gently rubbing your nails with a buffing board to smooth out any uneven bumps and nicks. It also leaves them smoother and shinier, which makes them easier for you to paint.

Step 5: Soak your hands

spa for hands

Give yourself a relaxing soak. | iStock.com/OlgaMiltsova

Even if you aren’t getting your nails professionally done in a salon, you should still enjoy the pampering experience! Fill a basin with warm water, then add your favorite bath salts, oils, or fragrance. After letting your hands soak for around five minutes, they should come out feeling soft and clean. Pat them dry on a warm, fluffy towel before moving on.

Step 6: Moisturize with lotion

woman hands applying cream

Dry hands just won’t do. | iStock.com/OlgaMiltsova

The state of your hands is one of the fastest giveaways to your real age. Or, even worse, they can make you appear older than you actually are. To keep them looking young, make sure to moisturize your hands on a daily basis, and especially while using the chemicals involved in getting a manicure.

Step 7: Push your cuticles back

woman pushing cuticles

Use a cuticle stick instead of trimming your cuticles. | iStock.com/MichaelNivelet

Cutting your cuticles is an unnecessary and dangerous practice that should be avoided at all costs! Instead, gently push them back using a wooden cuticle stick. Unlike cutting your cuticles, this won’t make you susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Finish with a layer of nourishing Omega Labs Cuticle Oil.

Step 8: Apply a base coat

Applying of transparent varnish

Applying a base coat on your nails makes the finished look last. | iStock.com/clownbusiness

You may have wondered about the purpose of base coats in the past. After all, they don’t do anything to improve the look of your finished manicure. However, as Good Housekeeping points out, base coats do serve the important role of making your manicure last longer, preventing polish from staining your nails (no one wants a yellow tint!), and strengthening nails that are weak or brittle. We recommend the Omega Labs USA Nailed It for great nail polish adhesion.

Step 9: Paint on at least two coats of your favorite color

Women's hands with a red manicure

Yes, you really need two coats.| iStock.com/iprogressman

You’ve finally made it all the way to the long-awaited action. It’s time to paint your nails. Choose your favorite color, then evenly apply a layer of paint to each nail. Depending on the opacity, you’ll need to go back and add at least one more layer to achieve the desired color.

Step 10: Apply a top coat

High Angle Close Up of Woman Wearing Bright Pink Polish

Apply a top coat to preserve your hard work. | iStock.com/Yulia-Images

To preserve your hard work as long as possible, you’ll need to apply a top coat. This acts as a protective shield, Glamour’s Lipstick says, all while increasing your nail’s sheen. And, let’s be honest, every great manicure can be measured by its shine.

Step 11: Dry naturally or use cuticle oil

beautiful smiling woman blowing her nail polish

Give your nails time to dry. | iStock.com/VladimirFLoyd

This final step is arguably the most difficult of them all. It seems that whenever you finish painting your nails, the doorbell suddenly rings, you need to zip up your jacket or it’s time to go to the bathroom. Trust us, it’s best to avoid all distractions and simply stay where you’re sitting, remain hands-free, and avoid smudging the wet paint.

If you need to dry your nails a bit faster, don’t turn to a UV light, which can damage your skin and age your hands. Instead, use your cuticle oil, which aids in speedy drying and acts as a slippery barrier. Once your nails are completely dry, you can go about your life and enjoy your gorgeous manicure!

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