How to DIY the Perfect Manicure at Home

December 01, 2020
Marisa Petrarca
By: Marisa Petrarca | by L'Oréal
illustration of cuticle nipper, cuticle pusher, nail polish remover, red nail polish and nail buffer block
Doing a DIY manicure at home is an easy way to save money while still treating yourself to some self-care, especially during COVID-19. And while you may not be a professional nail tech, it doesn’t mean your manicure can’t be streak-free and flawless. All it takes is the right tools and a little bit of patience. Ahead, discover the must-have products and steps to DIY salon-quality nails from the comfort of your own home.

Tools You Will Need:

  • nail polish remover
  • cotton pads
  • nail clippers 
  • nail file
  • nail buffer block
  • cuticle pusher
  • cuticle nipper
  • base coat
  • nail polish
  • top coat

STEP 1: Start With a Clean Slate

Completely remove any nail polish that’s on your nails. Apply nail polish remover to a cotton pad to rid your nails of any remaining polish. If you don’t have any leftover polish on your nails, use the nail polish remover to take off any excess oils.

STEP 2: Cut and Shape Your Nails

Use your nail clippers to trim down your nails so that they are all even. Be careful not to make them too short. Then, use the nail file to shape your nails. When filing, don’t aggressively move the file back and forth. Instead, file from the side of your nail to the center, being sure to lift the file away from your nail when you start on the other side of the nail. After filing, buff the top of your nails to make them look extra smooth, shiny and ready to be painted. 

STEP 3: Soak in Warm Water

After you’ve cut and shaped your nails, soak them in warm water for five minutes. This will help prep your hands by softening your cuticles. Dry your hands and moisturize them using the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream, which is an affordable drugstore formula that intensely moisturizes dry hands. 

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream

STEP 4: Push Back the Cuticles

Now that the warm water has softened your cuticles, gently bush them back with a cuticle pusher. Do not trim or tear at your cuticles as this can cause infection.

STEP 5: Apply a Base Coat 

Think of your base coat as a primer for your polish. It’s necessary to apply a base coat to give your polish something to hold onto and to keep your nails strong and healthy. We recommend the Essie Here to Stay Base Coat

STEP 6: Apply Nail Polish 

Using your nail polish of choice, paint your nails in three thin strokes: one down the center and then one on each side. Wait five minutes for nails to dry, and then apply your second coat. If you’re looking for a fun holiday manicure, we recommend the Essie 2020 Winter Collection, which includes six sparkling new shades. 
essie nail polish

STEP 7: Apply a Top Coat

Sweep a top coat, like the Dear Sundays Protective Top Coat, over your polished nails to prevent them from chipping and to give them an extra bit of shine. 

STEP 8: Let Your Nails Dry 

Patience is key. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by touching something and messing up your manicure. Sit still and wait at least 15 minutes for your nails to completely dry.
Design and Illustration: Hannah Packer

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