Personal Care

How to do your own manicure

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manicured nails
Why wait for a special occasion to paint your nails red?
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Healthy nails help you look and feel your best

Though treating yourself to a manicure may not fall high on the to-do list, this is one little luxury that can make a big difference in how you feel. Manicures and pedicures make women feel pretty and put together, but they don't have to involve trips to the salon that prove costly over time. Whether you're short on time and money or simply want to learn how to maintain soft, healthy hands, read on to learn how to do your own manicure.

Doing your manicures at home means that you can make the process fun and relaxing. You can play music, light a scented candle, or put on an old movie to set a spa day, "me-time" mood. Gather the following materials before you begin:

Cotton balls
Polish remover
Moisturizing soap
Warm water
Nail clippers
Emery board nail file
Moisturizing cream
Nail buffer
Nail brush and polish
Clear polish

How to do your own manicure

These steps will walk you through how to give yourself a manicure that will leave hands soft and healthy without exposing them to the risk of infection. If your hands are sensitive or if you have small red bumps under the tip of the nail, hold off on doing a manicure until having a doctor look at your hands so as not to spread a rash or irritate an infection.

  1. Dab nail polish remover onto a cotton ball and remove old nail polish. Start at the cuticles and sweep the cotton ball out to protect the cuticles.
  2. Wash your hands and forearms with a moisturizing soap. If the skin is rough, use an oatmeal bar or facial cleanser.
  3. Pat hands with a towel.
  4. Clip nails with a nail clipper or nail scissor. Leave them a little longer than you want because the next step is filing.
  5. Use an emery board (a cheap, card board nail file) to smooth and shape each nail. Gently wok the file from the outside to the tip in small back and forth motions. Moving the file perpendicular to the nail can leave them jagged or tear the nail.
  6. Place your hands in a bowl with warm water and soak for about 10 minutes. A drop of lemon juice, lavender oil or olive oil will make them extra soft.
  7. Pat excess water with a towel and massage hand lotion onto your hands. Rub cuticle cream onto your cuticles.
  8. With a cuticle pusher or orange stick, gently push your cuticles down.
  9. Cut hang nails with clippers. Do not pull them, pulling can tear too deep and cause infection.
  10. Use a cotton ball and polish remover to take off any lotion from the nails.
  11. Decide on your color of polish. Note that lighter colors will make your nails look longer.
  12. Give your nails a buff with a nail buffer. Then apply a clear basecoat on each nail to fill in ridges.
  13. Apply the nail polish starting at the center of each nail, then the side, in complete strokes from cuticle to tip.
  14. Relax for a few minutes while your polish sets - some polish takes longer to set than others. Depending on the type and color of polish you use, you may want to apply a second coat if the first one looks thin or streaky. Many polishes won't chip as easily with a second coat or thin layer of clear polish on top.


  • Avoid using metal nail files. They tear the nails easily.
  • Clipping your cuticles can cause an infection.
  • Maintain healthy nails by drinking plenty of water. Breakage can be a sign of dehydration, especially in dry climate or cold temperatures.

You can get away with touching up polish for a few weeks. The average time between manicures is about three weeks, but it's important to wear sunscreen and moisturize your hands every day. Enjoy your healthy, gorgeous hands!

Mayo Clinic
Nail Care Guide

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