Are you wondering how to do a professional manicure step by step (at home)? Here is a step-by-step guide on what professionals do at the salon.
Although I am not a professional nail tech whatsoever, I have started doing my nails at home more often. I do love the indulgence of a salon manicure (and there is no substitute), but getting to a nail salon is not always a possibility. DIY manicures are always fun and relaxing to do in the comfort of your own home. There are so many DIY products available on the market now (including dip powder!).
This article will serve as a guide if you are attempting to do your own nails. Just remember to be safe, clean, and careful when doing your own nails.
This post is all about how to do a professional manicure step by step.
A Guide On How To Do A Professional Manicure Step By Step
Manicure At Home Ingredients
Tools of the trade: What you’ll need
Before getting started you’ll want to gather up the following supplies. YOU CAN CLICK THE LINKS TO SHOP ON AMAZON.
- Paper towels
- Nail file + Buffer
- Nail clippers
- A cuticle pusher/stick
- A nail brush
- Exfoliating scrub
- Basecoat & Topcoat polish
- Any color polish of choice, some of my favs are:
- Cuticle oil or serum
- Nail polish remover
- Lotion or moisturizer
- Quick-dry polish (if in a hurry)
Manicure Procedure Step By Step
Step #1: Remove any old polish
If you have any polish left on your nails from a previous manicure, you’ll first want to ensure that you get your nails completely clean, clear, and prepared for the new product. An easy way to do this is with a small piece of paper towel, saturated with polish remover. You can also use a nail brush to gently scrape off any stubborn spots.
Step #2: Exfoliate your hands
Once your nails are perfectly prepped, you’ll also want to do a bit of skincare for your hands with a quick scrub down. Using sugar or salt-based scrub, spend a few minutes gently rubbing and wringing your hands to remove any dead skin and deeply cleanse your hands. Finish this step by rinsing thoroughly so that there is no remaining debris clinging to your skin.
Step #3: Shape and file for your desired style
Depending on the natural length and shape of your nails, you may want to do a bit of filing or trimming at this point so that your nails look uniform in length or to style them. The best way to do so is to first clip any excess length and then use your file to more precisely create your perfect shape – you might go with a square, round, or almond tip, or go for a chic coffin-style nail. The options are endless.
Step #4: Buff your base
For ensuring that your polish applies evenly and stays put for the long haul, buffing the nails is another essential step. You’ll want to spend a few minutes carefully buffing each nail, using a buffing block or the buffing side of your file tool, until the nails appear flat or matte, rather than shiny.
Step #5: Clean up the cuticles
Another secret to nails that look professionally done is to not ignore the cuticles. To clean up or remove cuticle skin, soaking your hands in warm water for a few minutes can work well to soften the nail beds. Or you could apply cuticle oil for a similar effect. Then, using a trimmer or orange stick, gently push back the delicate cuticle skin. Once you are finished, dry off the nails to remove any remaining water or oil.
Step #6: Start with your base coat
The purpose of a base coat is to protect and hydrate the nails, as well as prevent your polish from chipping. To get the perfect base, you’ll want to apply a very thin and even coat to each nail. Allow it to dry for a few minutes before moving on to your next step.
Step #7: Apply a couple of layers of color
Now for the fun part! Going in with your color polish, you’ll want to apply another thin layer to each nail, just as you did the base coat, and in the same order. (i.e. if you worked from left to right with your base coat, follow the same pattern for each additional layer)
Allowing time between each layer, you’ll want to apply 2-3 layers, just depending on how much color payoff you are looking to achieve. If you feel skilled enough to add some nail art, you would also do so at this point in the process.
Step #8: Finish with a topcoat
Perhaps the most important part of creating a long-lasting manicure is going to be your topcoat, so don’t skip this step! Your topcoat is what will seal in your other polish and finish off the look. Using a clear polish, apply a layer evenly to each nail.
Step #9: Allow drying time
At this point, you may be all ready to go show off your new nails, but before you do, it is critical that you give your freshly painted set time to completely dry down. Going about other tasks is the quickest way to end up with a botched paint job, so as much as possible, be patient and sit tight. If you have a small fan or a UV lamp drying device, you can use it here. Also, this quick-drying top coat is AMAZING. While that part isn’t necessary, it can help speed up your dry time.
Step #10: Moisturize your hands
Once your polish is completely and totally dry, the ideal way to complete your whole process is by giving your skin a little more attention. Applying a generous dab of lotion (I USE THIS ONE), body butter, or moisturizing cream, massage the product all over your hands and wrists until it is absorbed. You can also add a bit more cuticle oil at this point, to pamper your nails even more.
How To Do Nails At Home For Beginners
A Few Additional Product Picks and Pro Tips
- For a good polish experts recommend brands like OPI, Essie, Sally Hansen, and Kiss, with each offering a wide array of colors and formulas that hold up.
- When it comes to polish removal, non-acetone products are the preferred option for preserving your nail health and not drying out the skin.
- A cult favorite for the cuticles is Cuccio Naturalé cuticle oil which can be found on Amazon. However, you can also use any moisturizing oil such as coconut, avocado, or Vitamin E oil.
- If you don’t have an exfoliating scrub specifically for the hands, anybody or even a facial scrub can be used for polishing away dead skin. You can also make your own by adding a little salt or sugar to your moisturizing cuticle oil and scrubbing all over.
- To preserve the life of your manicure, the best practice is to reapply your topcoat every few days. This will further prevent chipping, and keep your nails looking freshly painted.
- One more investment to consider, if you find yourself doing a lot of at-home manicures, is a nail tool kit. Because they’re not just for the pros, you can easily find an inexpensive kit at your drugstore or online. These kits contain all the tools you need to change up your nails, anytime you feel inspired.