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The at-home manicure

If you don’t have time for the salon, or you just would rather not spend the money, don’t worry: You can get salon-quality nails at home. Follow our guide for getting soft hands and perfectly polished nails without having to leave the house.

Woman doing manicure at home

1Soak, scrub & soften.

To get the full salon experience, first soak your hands in warm water and a small amount of moisturizing bubble bath or bath salts. Use a salt or sugar scrub to exfoliate hands gently, being sure to wash and rinse them thoroughly afterward. If cuticles are prominent, gently push them back with a cuticle stick and massage a quick-absorbing lotion into hands.


Trim & file.

If your nails need a trim, snip them straight across with a small pair of nail clippers. Don’t try to shape them as you trim; use a file afterward for more accuracy. A square shape with rounded edges always looks good and won’t break as easily as oval-shaped nails. Always file nails in one direction; filing back and forth can cause splits, which can lead to breakage.

3Prepare nails.

Nail polish won’t stick to damp nails, so make sure they’re dry. Use polish remover to remove any lotion residue to further help the polish adhere.

4Buff & shine.

Gently buff nails with a buffer to add shine and smooth ridges, creating the perfect canvas for your polish. Buffing also stimulates circulation under your nails, which can help them grow.

5Paint & polish.

Start with a base coat, which strengthens nails and helps nail color stay put. After the base, apply nail color in thin, even layers, letting nails dry completely between coats. Once the last coat is completely dry, add two to three coats of a strong, clear topcoat for extra shine and strength. Pretty polish inspiration: Paint your nails blue for spring!


Your hands and nails work hard doing the dishes, sending texts, typing on a laptop and folding laundry. Here are a few strategies to make your new manicure last:

  • Let nails dry fully before you attempt to pick anything up.
  • Get someone else to do the heavy lifting; this is also not the time to try a rock climbing or boxing class.
  • Keep your hands out of chlorine-treated pool water and the ocean.
  • Reapply a single layer of topcoat at the end of each day.

More nail care tips

Top 10 tips to prevent & repair dry, damaged nails
7-Step do-it-yourself French manicure
A new nail polish remover free of harsh chemicals

It’s the little things that count in life and sometimes a good manicure is all you need to feel clean and fresh. If stress has been on your agenda a little too often lately, taking a few minutes out of your day and devoting them to you and your beauty needs is the way to go. A quick at-home manicure or a DIY facial are just a few ways to indulge in some beauty fun. Check out more at-home beauty tips>>>

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