The perfect DIY manicure: Tips and which tools you will need

April 16, 2020

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

Owning your nail routine means you can always have a fresh manicure and easily fix a chip or a smudged nail. I really like to pair painting with watching the TV or listening to a podcast to really have the best me moment. However Grace has a great tip: do your nails in the sunshine as you can see so much better. Whatever works for you.

DIY manicure: what tools you will need and tips for a perfect manicure
My At-Home-Manicure

What You’ll Need

In order to properly pamper your nails, there are certain tools and items you’ll want to have on hand. These include a nail file (to shape the nails), a buffer (to smooth the nail bed), cuticle oil (to soften cuticles so you can push them back), plus a nail brush (to remove the oil before you paint), as well as your base coat, whatever polish colour you’ve picked out, and a top coat.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Shape

JOHN LEWIS 4-IN-1 nail file from post: DIY manicure: what tools you will need and tips for a perfect manicure

First, you’ll want to start off using your file to whittle your nails into your desired shape: oval, square, rounded square, or whatever shape you choose. Personally I like the John Lewis 4-in-1 nail files as they have one file with different textures, including a buffer. But have a look at John Lewis online and make your own choice. Click HERE.

When it comes to the actual filing, you’ll want to file from the sidewall to the center on either nail as seesaw filing can cause hangnails. Seesaw filing is when you move the nail file in a back-and-forth motion across the tip of the nail. Swiping it in one direction on either side of the center will ensure a smoother finish.

If you have long nails, you might want to start your at-home mani with a pair of nail clippers instead, rather than try to file down an excessive amount of growth.

2. Buff

After you’ve filed, it’s time to buff the nails in order to create a smooth surface on which you’ll be painting. To buff your nails, you’ll need to glide a nail buffer across each nail for a few seconds, moving back and forth until you can feel (and see) that the nail is smooth. You might wonder if this step is truly necessary or if you can skip it when you’re in a pinch. But going straight into painting your nails sans buffing will have a noticeable effect on the way your polish turns out.

3. Care for your cuticles

DIY manicure: what tools you will need and tips for a perfect manicure

Rub in cuticle oil directly on your cuticle using your fingertips, and, softly but firmly, push back the cuticle to reveal the nail plate.

Although many in-salon manicures will include trimming of the cuticles, I do not recommend doing so at home.

Keeping your cuticles hydrated with an oil or serum shouldn’t just be reserved for your manicure. You should keep them hydrated at all times. There are many cuticle products designed to help strengthen nails and smooth your cuticles to make them more manageable and less prone to breakage. Look for oil-based versions that help with hydration.

John Lewis has a choice of Cuticle oils – click HERE.

4. Wash

It might seem counterintuitive, but after you’ve applied oil and gently pushed back your cuticles, it’s time to wash off said oil — which is where your nail brush comes in. This is the part of the in-salon manicure where your manicurist may ask you to go to the sink and scrub your nails with a nail brush and a bit of sudsy water. Do the same when you’re at home because oil on the nail plate is the biggest cause of chipping.

5. Lay down your base

Finally, it’s time to start painting. Begin with a thin layer of base coat polish. This will help ensure a more even colour application, and it also prevents the polish from staining your nails. Let the base coat dry for one minute before moving on to the next step. There are so many good base coats on the market – Nailberry, Jessica, Mavala etc so go to John Lewis online (Click HERE) and choose the one that suits your nail type.

6. Two coats of color

Nailberry from John Lewis - 48 colours available from post: DIY manicure: what tools you will need and tips for a perfect manicure
Nailberry from John Lewis – 48 colours available
Click HERE

Now for the most fun, and also arguably the most difficult, part: painting on your polish. Always apply two coats of colour, waiting a minute between each coat to prevent dents and bubbles. And paint the tip of the nail as it helps seal the color. I am obsessed by the Nailberry colours as they always are so spot on season after season and as they are free from Phthalates including DBP, Toluene, Alcohol, Parabens, Animal Derivatives & Gluten they are so much better for your nails.

Nailberry varnish corrector from post: DIY manicure: what tools you will need and tips for a perfect manicure
Click HERE to buy

As we all know, this is often easier said than done. The biggest problem with at-home manicures is that it’s just hard to paint with your non-dominant hand. I complete my first hand and let it dry before tackling my second hand. Don’t be too hard on yourself as practice makes progress! And Nailberry do a brilliant corrector pen for any little slip ups.

7. Seal it with the topcoat

Leighton Denny Miracle Mist from post: DIY manicure: what tools you will need and tips for a perfect manicure
To buy click HERE

Finally, you’ll want to apply a quality top coat polish, which will help seal your color, make it shine, and prevent it from chipping. Just a little tip try using Leighton Denny Miracle Mist spray as this really does seal and dry quickly. I also suggest reapplying your topcoat every two to three days to prevent chipping and to help keep your mani looking fresh. After your top coat dries (again, wait about one minute) I recommend that you keep hydrating your hands throughout the day.

And voilà! Your at-home manicure is done. I get such a good feeling having manicured my nails. It is the finishing touch to any outfit, even jeans and a tee-shirt, I always think. I have used Nailberry Bluebell in the picture however I normally use a neutral such as A Touch of Powder or Rose Blossom.

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