DIY Manicure Tips
No need to pay salon prices for a manicure. Use these at-home tips to get polished in minutes!
By: Shandley McMurray
Chipped polish and ragged hang-nails got you down? Get compliment-worthy hands at home with these tips from esthetic expert Marie Scalogna, owner of New York City-based Spa Chicks On the Go.
Remove. Take off old color with acetone polish remover on a cotton ball. (Note: Don’t use a tissue, it will fall apart and doesn’t absorb the remover well.)
Trim. Cut and file nails to your length of choice. As for shape, there are two main options: square or rounded. And neither form will chip more than the other. “I prefer a square shape,” Scalogna says. “It looks more modern.”
Soak. Rest hands in a bowl of warm water for five minutes. Add two tablespoons of a bath powder or your favorite liquid soap to soften nails. Make sure the water’s not too hot or it will dry out your hands and nails. (If you don't have time, you can skip this step.)
Soften. Apply cuticle oil or lotion on dry hands to nourish and soften rough spots.
Push. Use a cuticle or Popsicle stick to press cuticles back so they don’t get in the way of the polish. Some people prefer to cut their cuticles for aesthetic purposes, Scalogna explains, but it’s best not to do this at home. “Unless you’re a professional, you’re going to end up with cuts all along the side of your nails,” she says. “Just push them back and keep it easy.”
Scrub. Exfoliate hands with a body scrub or homemade mixture of olive oil and kosher salt or raw sugar. Scrub for two to three minutes, then wash thoroughly.
Moisturize. Dry hands and apply a rich moisturizer. Try one of our favorite moisturizers!
Polish. Apply a base coat first, then apply two thin coats of polish. Scalogna’s fave is Power Lunch by Essie, $7. Finish with a top coat if you haven’t used one yet.
- If you don’t have time to paint your nails, just take off the polish and moisturize. It will look much better than chipped paint.
- No file on hand? Use the rough edge of a match book.
- If you don’t have cuticle oil, olive oil works just as well.
- Light polish is easier to maintain than dark polish – chips and cracks aren’t as noticeable.
- Keep polish in a cool, dry place, like the fridge. It’ll last longer.
French manicures are best saved for special events like weddings. They make nails look longer and more elegant, but on a daily basis, “They’re not hip,” says Scalogna.