How to: Simple at-home weekly manicure

Manicures are fun — and who doesn’t want her fingernails to look fun and stylish? Getting one a week, though, can put a major dent in your pocketbook. So invest in some tools of the esthetics trade and start giving yourself at-home manicures instead. You’ll save money, and home-brushed nails can last longer than those painted in the salon.

Woman painting nails in at-home manicure

What you need

  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Nail clipper/scissors
  • Emery board
  • Cuticle oil
  • Cuticle stick
  • Nail polish
  • Topcoat/basecoat

How to give yourself a manicure

1Clean your hands & nails thoroughly.


Using soap and water, get underneath the nails to remove any dirt. If you have nail polish on, use nail polish remover and a cotton ball to completely clean the nail surface. Use a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover to clear anything left around the edges.

2Trim and shape your nails.

If your nails are long, trim them using a nail clipper or pair of nail scissors. Once complete, file raggedy edges down with an emery board. Round or square off the nail with long, smooth strokes of the emery board against the nail tip (this prevents nail splitting, which can happen if you file using short strokes).

3Soak cuticles.

To soften your cuticles so you can push them back with a cuticle or orangewood stick, soak your fingertips in soapy water for a few minutes. Once the cuticles look whiteish, grab your tool of choice and gently push the cuticle into the nail bed. This process shouldn’t hurt, so if you feel pain, stop. Also, never cut or tear your cuticle; that could lead to infection.

4Pick your polish.

Start with a clear basecoat to protect your nails. Use three stokes of polish on each nail: Middle, then on each side. Let the basecoat dry, then apply colored polish in the same way. Be sure to let the polish dry completely in between coats. Once you’ve applied all layers, add a topcoat to protect the color. Quick-dry polish helps set the color. Remove any polish that landed on your skin with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover.

Other hints for home manicures

  • Practice makes perfect. The more you do it, the better your nails will look in the long run.
  • If your cuticles are really dry, apply cuticle oil to the beds before soaking your nails.
  • Light polish is easier to maintain than dark polish.

More nail care tips:


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