Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do Your Own Manicure: Tutorial

One of my most favorite things in the world to do is get my nails done. There is just something that a professional nail tech can do that I will never be able to master. After a manicure I will literally stare at my hands for days afterwards.

Unfortunately getting my nails done at the salon is a luxury I can no longer afford. I have really gnarly cuticles, always have and always will. Plus, this past week I have been super sick and in bed. Every time I washed my hands I was just too tired to bother to put on hand lotion so my skin and cuticles got really dried out. Today is the first day that I have felt semi-human so I decided to give myself a home mani and share with you how I do it.

First gather all of your supplies. You will want everything out so that once you get to the painting part, you don't have to worry about running to get something and smudging your paint.

You will need: (from left to right) a bowl for soaking your fingers, cuticle nippers (optional), orange stick, nail file, hand lotion, cuticle remover (optional), base coat, nail polish and top coat, olive oil, nail polish remover, cotton rounds and q-tips (optional).

Fill your bowl with about 1/2 cup of water and add 1 tbs of olive oil. Warm this up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to one minute. Just be careful and test the temperature BEFORE you put your hands in it. It gets hot REALLY fast.

Once warm (NOT HOT), dip both hands into the water so that your nails and cuticles are submerged. Make sure you have taken off any old nail polish.

You can let your nails soak for 1-5 minutes or longer if you have the time. I usually can sit still about three minutes before I get antsy and have to press on.

Next, get your cuticle remover gel and place a small dollop at the base of each cuticle, then rub this around the base of the entire nail and up the sides. I use AVON Nail Experts Instant Gel Cuticle Remover.

Next, grab your orange stick and gently push your cuticles back towards the base of the nail. I use a metal stick with the edge of a cotton round wrapped around it.

Push the cuticles back on each nail. Now, there will be an excess of cuticle smushed up at the base of your nail. This is the part of the cuticle you will snip with your nippers. If there is not a lot of extra cuticle build up you can skip this step.

There is no need to go crazy with the nippers. Just snip any pieces of cuticle that are loose or built up more than other areas. If you are unsure of this part, skip it because you can end of nipping your skin and it can really hurt.

Once you are happy with how your cuticles look you can move onto filing. I use a Beauty Secrets coarse file. There is no need to use one like this, I'm just lazy and haven't bought a new file since I had acrylic nails. If you nails are natural, an ordinary emory board will do. I've also heard great things about glass files but I haven't tried one yet.

The main thing to remember is to file in only ONE direction. Go front to back, pick up the file and go front to back, and repeat. Do not rub the file back and forth like you see secretary's doing in old movies. This will tear up the ends of your nails and make them weak. 

Now for my favorite part, lotion and massage. I use Bath and Body Works True Blue Spa Paraffin Super Softening Hand Lotion.

Rub this all over hands and into cuticles. This is all I use because it is super moisturizing. If you are just using regular hand lotion you may want to put cuticle oil on at this point too.

Really rub the lotion in and give yourself a good hand and finger massage. 

Massage increases blood flow to the area. The more blood flow, the healthier the skin will look and the faster your nails will grow.

Once you are finished with your massage (take all the time you like), you will want to wipe the excess lotion off of your nails. Lightly wet a cotton round with nail polish remover and just swipe it over each nail to remove the lotion. This way your nail polish will stick.

Now, paint one layer of your base coat over your nails. I use Rimmel Stronger Base Coat. A base coat creates a good foundation for your polish and can help keep it from chipping. Also, it can sometimes prevent a polish from staining your nails although as you can see from my "yellowed" tips, certain greens can seep through a base coat anyway.

Next apply two coats of your selected nail polish. I am using Zoya in Petra.

Then follow up with one coat of a top coat. Today I used Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. I will be honest, I'm not crazy about this top coat. It peels on me too quickly. I prefer to use Winning Nails Tough Coat Bonder/Sealer which I get at Sally. I thought I'd try something new but I shoulda stuck with my tried and true. ;)

Now just wait. This is the hardest part for me but I guarantee, if you can sit still for at least 10 minutes your manicure will thank you. After that time has passed, you can put on more hand lotion or rub some cuticle oil back onto your nails.

That's it. If you have some spots where the nail polish has gotten onto your cuticles, you can dip a q-tip into your polish remover and clean them up. 

Do you have any home manicure tips? I'd love to hear them

Thanks for reading. Check out my awesome giveaway HERE.


  1. Nice guide! I love my glass file... my nails have been so much healthier and smoother since I made that switch.

  2. I really need to get one. I just never remember to look for one when I'm out. doh!

  3. You're a gal after my own heart. I love having my nails done too, but I can't afford it either. A few years ago, I went with a friend to have manicures and then we went to the movies. She kept catching me out admiring my freshly polished nails in the light from the cinema screen. Haha. She never lets me forget that!

    1. LOL That is too funny! My hubby asked me what I wanted for V-day and I said just give me time with no kids so I can go and get my nails done!

  4. I have never done this for myself, so I will have to do this. Thank you for the awesome tutorial. :) I had my nails done once, a long time ago and it was traumatic.....yes I know how is that possible!

  5. ;) Some people can't stand having their cuticles clipped. Hubby can't stand it if I even look at his.

  6. The olive oil soak is a great idea!! I just did my own gel nails for the first time this weekend, because I am cutting back on spending and they are SO expensive to have done! I used some of your tips before I did the gels. They didn't turn out half bad for a first attempt, and I enjoyed pampering myself. :) One other thing I *love* is a paraffin dip. My parents got me the paraffin spa thing for Christmas one year. Nothing makes my hands feel softer, especially during the dry winters.

    1. I love paraffin dips! I used to have one of those home kits and for some inane reason I got rid of hit. doh!