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How To Get The Perfect Manicure At Home

How to get the perfect at home manicure

Everyone has a part of their normal routine that they’re missing during this isolation period, and it turns out for a lot of us it’s getting our nails done. We get it though, there’s something about a perfectly manicured hand that can elevate an outfit and make you feel put together. So that’s why we thought we’d put together a simple guide on how to get the perfect at home manicure.

We know some of you have all the tools at home for a fancy SNS or shellac manicure, but we’re going old school in this how-to with an easy paint job that will last you a long time. Plus it’s the perfect time to give your nails a little break from all that dipping and acrylics!

In 5 simple steps, we’ll show you how to execute a beautiful at home manicure - plus we’ll throw in some of our tried and tested tips to help it last longer. We’ve also found painting our own nails very, very therapeutic so consider this a guide on how to help you relax too.


  • Remove old nail polish
  • Shape your nails
  • Prep your nails and cuticles
  • Paint your nails
  • Hydrate your nails and cuticles

The ultimate at home manicure in 5 steps

1. Remove any old or existing polish

This sounds so straightforward but starting with an absolutely clean base makes all the difference in reaching your end goal of the perfect manicure. So get yourself a good nail polish remover, a cotton ball and go to town on your old colour.

Product to try: BeautyPRO Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover

2. Shape and/or trim your nails 

If you’re an at-home manicure veteran, you probably already keep your nails regularly trimmed enough that you only need a good nail file for this part. If you do need to give your nails a trim, get onto a good pair of nail clippers - we promise you it makes all the difference in not damaging your nails before you even paint them.

After you’ve trimmed them, use a nail file to shape your nails to your heart’s desire. Square, oval, super long - your nail shape will come down to personal preference but for a clean at home manicure, we really just love a simple oval shape that mirrors our cuticles. A slightly shorter simple shape will also help them last a lot longer - less room for chipping!

Plus let’s leave all the fun and more complex shapes for when you can go see a professional again! It’ll be so much more satisfying.

Products to try:

3. Prep your nails

This is where we get a little bit more technical, but trust us when we say this will make all the difference between a clean at home manicure and a messy one. Whip out your cuticle pusher and start gently pushing your cuticles back using the curved end. 

While salons and some people would reach for a cuticle remover at this point, we’d recommend going straight for your nail buffer. Go ahead and buff your nails to help smooth out any ridges so that the nail polish will have a smooth surface to apply to. Once you’re done, take your buffer down to your cuticles and use the edge of it to very gently buff at the skin that you’ve just pushed down. So essentially the edge of the buffer should meet where your nail meets your skin. The messy part of the skin should just come away. 

Brush away any leftover dust from buffing.

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4. Paint and polish your nails

So now we’re up to the fun part - painting! Pick your colour and also make sure you have a good base and top coat. Start with a layer of base coat and let that dry before tackling the colour. 

When it comes to applying a coat of color, it’s best to work in as little strokes as possible. We find that aiming for 3-4 strokes seems to do the trick. This also means that the amount of nail polish you have on the brush is key. Try to find that in-between point - too much polish can get you into a mess and too little will result in streaks.

Start from the base of your nail and work the brush up in straight strokes. Two coats of colour is the magic number - or we like to go for three if it’s a lighter colour like holy grail nail colour, OPI’s Bubble Bath. But it is really, really important that you let your first coat dry before going ahead with your second (and subsequent) coats. And no, not just ‘that looks okay’ touch dry but actually dry. So give it 4-5 minutes between coats. Put Friends on or carefully check your emails. 

If you need to clean up the edges a bit, simply grab a cotton bud and dip it into your nail polish remover, then gently wipe the excess away.

So once both your coats are completely dry, apply a top coat to seal the colour in. Then it’s a waiting game again to make sure your top coat sets properly. We’d recommend around 20 minutes so put on your favourite podcast, time will fly!

5. Hydrate your hands and cuticles

Most salons will reach for cuticle oils right about now, but we think a good hand cream does the job too. Squeeze out a little extra hand cream than you’d normally use and apply as you do but then use some of that excess to massage each one of your cuticles too. 

Products to try:

Tips to get the most out of your new at-home manicure

  • Don’t apply hand cream or moisturiser of any sort before painting your nails. This can cause the nail beds to be greasy, resulting in sliding nail polish and just general chaos. Save it for after!
  • Go for a shorter nail length. As we mentioned earlier, it’s easier to maintain and there’s less room for chipping. We all know what a pain that can be
  • Wait - like really WAIT - between coats. We have to mention this again because it’s so important to let your coat dry before applying the next one. If you’ve noticed little bubbles forming in your nail colour once it dries, it’s because you haven’t let the coats dry properly. And no one wants that so be patient!
  • Reapply your top coat every 2-3 days. A simple and quick step but it will keep your colour chip-free for longer!

What about a pedicure?

For a simple at home pedicure, we’d still recommend the steps above. Although, you can probably be a little lazy and skip the cuticle pushing step. We’d also just swap out the finger nail clipper for a stronger toe nail clipper. 

To take your pedicure to the next level, add a foot file or callus stone to your tool line-up to buff away any dead skin around the heels or calluses. Then soak your feet in some warm water - with a little extra foot care - then dry and apply a thick moisturiser to your heels and the rest of your feet.

Products to try:

Trends to try

So if you’re anything like us, your screen time is probably six years at this point. The great thing though is that we’ve seen so many nail trends from celebrity manicurists and at-home aficionados that we’re excited to try. We’ve rounded up a few below that you can try at home - using the above tips, of course.

A different (complementing) colour on each nail

Accent strips

Not your normal french tips

Nail it with our at home manicure guide

So now you have a foolproof, simple guide to getting the perfect at home manicure… What are you still waiting for? Hopefully we’ll read this blog again when it’s all over and laugh about that time we were panicking about our nails. Who knows, this might even be the start of a DIY manicure revolution!

Need some of the goodies mentioned before you get started? No problems, we have you covered with our beauty tools section! Then raid our skincare and body & bath sections to really complete your at home routines. 

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(Image via @betina_goldstein)