Tutorial: The Art Of The DIY Manicure

Tutorial: The Art Of The DIY Manicure

There are few things more frustrating than getting a manicure only to have it chip it the next day. If I could add up all of the money I’ve spent having my nails done only to be either a) disappointed in the results or b) disappointed in my damn impatient self for smudging it immediately, well then I’d have a decent amount of DOLLARS! This year I decided to take things in house (a term I love to use, “in haus” sounds even better, let’s start that one!), and put my cosmetology license to work! As someone who is nearly ambidextrous (weird flex, I know) painting my own nails isn’t as horrible as it could be, but I have amassed my favorite tips and tricks to help achieve a pro level mani at home! (Reader note: I often do my nails in bed and it is very dangerous, but also a deep level of self care that I will never give up.)


  • Nail Clippers
  • Cuticle Clippers
  • Cuticle Pusher
  • Nail File
  • Cuticle Remover (I like this one!)
  • Cuticle Oil (this one is good!)
  • Nail Polish (I love CND Vinylux Weekly Manicure Polish! It lasts!)
  • Base Coat (Seche Vite always and forever!)
  • Dry Fast Top Coat (Seche Vite for the win!)
  • Cotton Rounds
  • Paper Towels
  • Acetone Nail Polish Remover
  • Rubbing Alcohol

Step 1:

Put down a layer of paper towels to protect your surface. Remove any old nail polish with acetone nail polish remover and some cotton rounds. I personally think acetone is the only thing that really gets your nails 100% clean and we need a clean surface for the polish to properly adhere to.

Step 2:

Cut and shape your nails. The shape is up to you, however if you have issues with nails breaking, I’d recommend a square or squoval (square with rounded edges) for nail strength. When filing your nails, do NOT do a seesaw movement, this will cause the nails to split and crack. Instead, run the file along your nails in one direction and then the other to achieve the desired shape.

Step 3:

Apply the cuticle remover and let sit for about 15 seconds. Then gently push the cuticles back. Ideally you want the lunula (the little half moon at the base of your nail) to show, but if your cuticles haven’t been tended to in a while, you might need to wait for a few weekly manicures for your little moon to show. Don’t force a cuticle, that’s how you can get hangnails and damage your nail bed.

Step 4:

Wash your hands with warm water and soap to remove the cuticle remover.

Step 5:

Using a sharp, clean cuticle clipper, gently snip away any cuticle that is obviously hanging off. Don’t go after fresh skin, this can make you bleed and ultimately cause your cuticles to look worse.

Step 6:

Apply cuticle oil to each nail and lightly rub. Once this absorbs, your cuticles will be nice and moisturized which will help your new nails grow in healthy and strong!

Step 7:

Look over your nails and make sure they look evenly shaped and don’t have any rough edges. Then, using a piece of paper towel (don’t use cotton rounds or cotton balls as they leave debris on the nail) soaked in rubbing alcohol, swipe over the nails to create a dry, clean surface for the polish to adhere to.

Pro tip: The green rubbing alcohol at your drug store smells like mint and is fantastic for sanitizing cosmetic tools and cleaning lipstick, eyeliner etc. because it leaves a refreshing scent!

Step 8:

Apply the base coat and let dry.

Step 9:

Apply 2-3 thin layers of nail polish. Using your pinky as an anchor, try to apply your polish in three swipes - down the middle first and then the sides. Be careful not to neglect your nail tips as that is where chips start.

Step 10:

Apply the top coat. It’s very important to make sure you coat the entire nail in top coat (especially those tips!), this will seal the manicure, making it hard and shiny.

Step 11:


Pro Tip: Take Biotin supplements every day for nail, hair and skin health!

1 comment

Joni LaFerriere

Joni LaFerriere

I so needed to see this nail article today! I can’t get manis/pedis at the salons anymore due to a couple of nasty infections. Thanks to this step by step I can do my own cute nails for the spring and summer!

I so needed to see this nail article today! I can’t get manis/pedis at the salons anymore due to a couple of nasty infections. Thanks to this step by step I can do my own cute nails for the spring and summer!

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