Professional manicures are a welcome break from the tussle and the bustle of the real world; a blissful place where a woman goes to rejuvenate herself and refresh her body and soul. Until the real world calls, and suddenly you’re off to extinguish yet another problem. Day by day, you’re now a couple of days away from an important event, such as your best friend’s wedding day or a business party that you just can’t say no to, and your nails look like they’ve been to hell and back (and apparently they dug their way through).

While a Home Manicure Service is always a welcome option, knowing how to properly do your own nails is a rite of passage every woman should go through. Just not the night before the big event; give yourself a few days of trial and error to really get it down to perfection.

Home Manicure Step-by-Step

blue nails on a green backdrop

We’ll give you the steps needed for a high-quality, salon level nails. Be careful, if you get too good at it all your girlfriends will be booking their nail appointments at your place.

Step 1: Wet Soak (Optional)
Decide if you want to soak your nails. If you do soak them, the water will slightly expand them, which means that the nail polish might crack later on when they naturally shrink. Soaking your nails in pleasantly warm water is healthier in the long run. If you don’t soak your nails, apply nail moisturizer before you apply a base coat; this won’t expand your nails as much.

Step 2: Remove The Old Nail Polish
Not many works of art are made by painting over existing ones, and your nails likely won’t appreciate being caked in layers of old nail polish. Gently remove the old polish with a nail polish remover and a cotton swab.

Step 3: Trim File Buff/Use Ridge Filler
Trim the nails using your regular household nail clipper. Bonus points if it’s clean (rubbing alcohol works) and sharp. Gently file your nails in one direction until you have the desired shape. Then either buff the nails (not with a file), or better yet, use a nail ridge filler.

pushing nail cuticles

Step 4: Push back cuticles
Carefully push the cuticles back with a cuticle pusher. Carefully. If you cut your cuticles, you might get an infection later.

Step 5: Dry your hands and nails
Using cotton swabs, dry your hands and nails. Nails have natural oils on them that prevent the nail polish from properly “sticking” to the nail.

Step 6: Apply a base coat (Optional)
A base coat will make sure the nail polish sticks. Really dark or intense nail polishes (like black and red) are generally good candidates for a base coat. It also depends on the person’s nails. You can apply 1 or 2 layers of base coat depending on your nails.


Step 7: Apply the nail polish
Finally, the fun part. Apply the nail polish, just like you did all those years ago at a slumber party. Start from the base of your nail and slowly go towards the edges. If you’re using an intense, rich color (black and red) or matter polish, apply a second coat after your first coat is semi-dry.

Step 8: Apply a clear top coat
The final step, apply the top coat that’ll protect your nail polish from cracking. Most people consider this step to be optional, but if you like having the same nail polish lasting up to a week, you’ll learn to love the clear top coat.

Here’s a video that’ll further explain this step-by-step process, be sure to watch it.