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DIY At-Home Manicures

Updated on February 21, 2018
Madison Resare profile image

Madison is a stay-at-home mom and a freelance writer. She received her B.A. in English from BYU-Idaho and she enjoys crafting and baking.

At Home Manicures

I do not claim to be a professional manicurist and that is probably a good thing because then no one would listen to me when I said it is actually pretty easy to give yourself a manicure. Will your at-home manicure be just as good as the ones they give you in a salon? Depends on how much you want to try and pamper yourself and whether or not you want to get the essential tools to make that happen. Why do I love at home manicures? Because it means I can do it whenever and however I want without spending a ton of money.


Top Reasons to do Manicures at Home

  • Timing
    You can do your own at-home manicure whenever you want
  • Technique
    You can try different methods of caring for your hands and nails to see which methods you like best.
  • Cost
    Once you pay for the essential manicure tools (which do not cost very much) you are all set to go for quite a few manicures with essentially no cost at all. Not paying an arm and a leg to have your nails done is always nice in my mind.
  • Quality
    Honestly, sometimes doing a manicure on your own guarantees you a better quality then if you were to go to a salon. I have, on multiple occasions now, been the receiver of a substandard manicure because the professional was either distracted or not doing her best work. I was also cut with a nail file once; at least if I cut myself with a nail file the only person I have to blame is me.
  • Skill
    You may not have the best nail care skills in the world, but by giving yourself at-home manicures you will learn and get better at that particular skill. You may even be able to share that skill with others once you have perfected you techniques. Girls’ night out? You are totally ready.

Needed Supplies

  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls/cotton swabs
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Towels
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail file/buffer (multi-steps)
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Cuticle scissors or clippers
  • Cuticle oil (or olive oil)
  • Lotion


Step by Step Guide to Giving Yourself a Professional Looking Manicure

OK here it is! Your step-by-step guide to giving yourself an awesome manicure. Please be aware of the fact that there are other ways, other tools, other steps you can include in your own at-home manicure if you wish; that is one of the best parts! You can customize each manicure to your taste and to the amount of time and energy you have to spend. Have fun!

1. Remove Nail Polish

Your first step is to remove any and all nail polish you currently have on your nails. I use the cheap polish remover from the dollar store because it works and the point, or one of the points, of doing my nails at home is so that I do not have to spend an arm and a leg. I use cotton balls to get the majority of the polish off my nail, but if some of the polish is being stubborn I will use a cotton swab (the ones many people use for their ear) in order to get the polish off in the nooks and crannies of my nails.


2. Soak Hands/Nails

Many professional manicurists are now going with the dry manicure route instead of soaking your hands/nails; one of the reasons is because your nail polish will last longer. This step is completely up to you, personally I love soaking my hands in warm/hot water before I get to work on my hands and nails because I am treating myself to an experience and I want to enjoy it. Also, during my next step I use a sugar scrub and it helps if my hands are already damp.


3. Massage Hands with a Sugar Scrub

In this next step you will want to have your store bought or your homemade sugar scrub mixed and ready to go. Simply pick up a small palm full of your homemade scrub and start massaging your hands and wrists. I love this particular sugar scrub recipe because it smells like vanilla and it feels awesome on my hands. Rub in circular motions and really dig some of that sugar into your skin for a real exfoliating experience.


Ingredients for Homemade Exfoliating Sugar Scrub:

  • Brown sugar
  • Olive oil (coconut oil)
  • Mexican Vanilla
  • Small bowl
  • Spoon


Simply place your brown sugar, oil, and Mexican Vanilla into a small bowl and mix it up with a spoon to create an awesome homemade sugar scrub. You can add different ingredients to get a different smell if you wish; for example, you could use lemon oil (not juice) instead of Vanilla in order to get a nice fresh lemon smell.

4. Clip/File

Time to clip and file those nails into the shapes you want to polish. Nail clippers are one tool you do not want to be skimpy on; you need good quality clippers to give your nails a clean cut and not a messy tear. If you are using one of those awesome multi-side filing tools, only use the rough gritty side for this step of shaping the nails.Here is an awesome tutorial on how to cut and file your nails.


Cut and Shape

5. Care for Cuticles

This is one of my favorite steps of doing an at-home manicure, unfortunately I do not do it often enough so my cuticles are usually a hot mess. To care for your cuticles you will want cuticle oil (or olive oil), a cuticle pusher, and cuticle clippers/scissors. Start by putting a small drop of the cuticle oil toward the bottom of each nail. Next, use the cuticle pushing stick to push back your cuticles, the oil should make them nice and loose and easy to push. Next you can take your cuticle scissors/clippers to clip off remaining/hanging cuticles and hangnails. This video shows you how to do this step by step for those who learn things visually and so that you do not hurt yourself.


Basic Cuticle Care

6. File/Buff/Shine

You can find a multi-surface nail file/buffer for cheap on Amazon, your local grocery store, or even your local dollar store. This is a definite necessity for me when I am doing an at-home manicure because the multiple sides give your nails a rough to smooth file, buff, and shine that will leave your nails looking shiny and healthy. Sometimes I will stop at this step because I like the way my natural nails look at this point.

7. Polish

Using a colored base coat give your nails a fun polish, I don’t have very many tips for painting your nails because I think it is kind of self-explanatory and many girls learn how to do this at a very young age. After this coat has dried you can put on a clear top coat to keep the polish on longer. The one tip I do have is to make sure your nails are completely dry before eating/sleeping or doing anything else where your nails will be smudged.

8. Moisturize

The last step of my at-home manicure tutorial is to simply moisturize your hands. Using whatever lotion you want, I prefer the kinds without a lot of alcohol because those will actually make your hands more dry, rub it on your hands and arms and give yourself a bit of a hand massage to wrap up your awesome experience.

How Often do You Care for Your Nails?

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© 2014 Maddi


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    • Madison Resare profile image

      Maddi 3 years ago

      You are so welcome! thanks for the awesome feedback. I hope you find taking care of them as enjoyable as I do :)

    • profile image

      Memuna Umber 3 years ago

      Thank you so much for such a descriptive tutorial, I never care for my nails and I think its high time I start giving them the attention they deserve!

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image

      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks so much! :)

    • Madison Resare profile image

      Maddi 3 years ago

      Thank you for your awesome comments/feedback I really appreciate it :) i just recently got into doing my own manicures at home and I must say it is kind of addicting! Sometimes you just need a little pampering :) I hope your date goes well, have fun!

    • Elizabeth Bowers profile image

      Elizabeth Bowers 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Awesome tutorial! I'm totally going to do this soon - I love getting my nails done but hardly ever do, and I hardly ever get to them at home either. But I have a double date Saturday, and I think that your tutorial will be a great way to get ready for it! Thanks so much! Voting up and sharing!