6 Steps to the Perfect Home Manicure

I love a good salon pampering sesh as much as the next girl, but I usually don’t have time to sit down for a professional manicure.

{Sometime soon I’m going to make time for this cherry blossom mani.}

Over the years, I’ve mastered the DIY five-minutes-or-less version of a basic manicure. It’s worth splurging on a few good products to get salon-worthy results at home, over and over again.

1. PREP. I like to start with a natural sugar scrub to exfoliate my hands and remove any dead skin from the cuticles. I never trim my cuticles; I condition them with avocado oil a few times a week before bed to keep them moisturized and gently push them back with my fingertips.

2. CLEAN. Next, I remove any polish and oil from my nails with acetone polish remover. I like Butter London Scrubbers 2-in-1 nail prep and remover pads; they aren’t smelly, and one durable wipe cleans all ten nails. At most, you may need two wipes if you’re wearing a few coats or dark polish. They’re great for travel or to stash in your purse for the days all your nails start chipping at once (how does this happen?).

3. SHAPE. I shape my nails with a medium file; usually round or squoval since I keep my nails pretty short for work.

Nail Shape Guide
{source: Beautylish}

4. PRIME. Good manicures are made in the base coat. I love Butter London Nail Foundation. It creates a perfect silky foundation for even color application — especially light pinks that can go on streaky — and used alone it’s like a clean buffed mani in a bottle.

5. PAINT. After the base coat dries, I brush on 1-2 coats of color. Essie polishes are my favorite, and lately Ballet Slippers and Enuff is Enuff are on regular rotation.

6. DRY. Ain’t nobody got time for wet nails. I didn’t think I’d ever find anything I liked as much as Essie’s Good to Go rapid dry topcoat, but their Quick-E Drying Drops are pretty awesome. It doesn’t dry as fast, but it protects from nicks, smudges and peeling and has silicone that adds shine. The foolproof liquid formula is really easy to apply with the dropper, and it makes my manicures last well over a week. I don’t even use a topcoat anymore.

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  1. 1.2.15

    Reblogged this on addicted to irresistible and commented:
    I absolutely love this post by A Pretty Penny!. I have always deemed myself awful at at-home manicures and I am usually in the nail salon every 2-3 weeks shelling out almost $40 bucks. You do the math. I really want to try my hand at doing my own nails and this post gives me great pointers to start. Thanks!

  2. 10.1.14
    mira65 said:

    That was great!

  3. 10.1.14
    Swetlana said:

    Thank you for the nail foundation tip! Will check that out :)

  4. 8.9.14

    This is so cool, thank you so much. Could you possibly check out my blog?


    Thank you so much,
    From Ellie :)

  5. 8.7.14

    love this post!! It would mean alot to me if you could check out my blog and maybe follow me, it’s ok if you don’t want to. I did a review on the montagne jeunesse facemasks, babylips etc. I love your blog keep up the good work! xx hatice

  6. 8.7.14

    Reblogged this on LuxuriousUltraViolet.

  7. 8.7.14

    Reblogged this on Fotos by Franzi Photography and commented:
    Today’s blog is a guest post from A Pretty Penny. She blogged yesterday about the 6 Steps to the Perfect Home Manicure and I thought I would share it. Everyone doesn’t have the time or money to pay to have your nails professionally done so check out these few tips to get the perfect at home manicure!

  8. 8.7.14
    sirwin17 said:

    This is so helpful! As a fashion addict who is terrible at nails, I have noticed that my dodgy nails can ruin my outfits half the time. Will keep this advice in mind :)

  9. 8.6.14

    Thanks for this! I’m a sucker for the salon but I can’t always justify spending the money. I always stick with square nails and for anyone reading those dry drops look GREAT! Fantastic way to avoid ruining your fresh mani!

  10. 8.6.14
    cefashion said:

    Thanks! It helps so much!

  11. 8.6.14
    chanedp said:

    This is great! Thank you! I have holidays now so I can finally do my nails!

  12. 8.6.14
    Margot said:

    You might check out the quick dry top coat from Digital Nails (indie polish maker on Etsy), it’s literally called “Ain’t’ Nobody Got Time For That.” ;-).

  13. 8.6.14

    Just came across your blog and absolutely love your design :)
    Thank you for sharing your routine, especially that nail shape image is quite helpful as I never really knew what people meant when saying ‘squoval’ :)
    x Maja

  14. 8.6.14

    I never knew about quick drying drops. I’ll be investing in some of those!

  15. 8.6.14
    Robin said:

    I can’t wait to try these tips.

  16. 8.6.14
    cfsmis04 said:

    I love doing manicures at home, thank you for the tips!

  17. 8.6.14
    Cory said:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m always looking for little ways to improve my at-home mani skills.

  18. 8.6.14

    nice! I really like this because I don’t like going to the salon. I think people sometimes forget that they can still get a really good manicure at home