Salon Secrets for a Great Manicure

Beauty, Home & Family
on January 16, 2012

How much do you spend on your manicures — $15, $20, $25? If you spend just $20 each week to have your nails done professionally, you could be spending about $1,000 a year on manicures. A home manicure, even once a month, can save you about $240 a year. Worried you can’t take care of your nails like the professionals at the salon? You can get a great at-home manicure if you keep in mind seven tips.

1. Begin organized. Always begin your home manicure by organizing your supplies. Your home manicure should be as relaxing as a professional one. Having to get up multiple times to retrieve supplies will become aggravating and make it seem more like a chore than an indulgence.

2. Prepare your nails. Just as a stylist will prepare your hair with a good cleansing before a cut, you need to clean your nails before a manicure. Remove any old polish. If you do not like the smell or drying effects of acetone, choose an acetone-free polish remover. Never soak your nails in polish remover, as it can be too harsh for your skin and cuticles.

3. Trimming and shaping. Trim and shape your nails before soaking. Use a clipper to reduce nail length, followed by a filing to shape the nail. Pointed dagger-like nails look harsh and unnatural. Consider gently rounded or subtly squared nail shapes. Always file your nails in one direction. Sawing back and forth is not good for the nail and can cause it to weaken and split.

4. A good soak. A warm soak can be the essence of relaxation during a manicure. Don’t skip this step just because you are at home. Treat yourself and your cuticles. Jin Soon Choi, owner of three New York City salons and noted manicurist, suggests soaking in a large bowl of Epsom salts, milk or essential oils (but not all together.)

5. Cuticle care. An orange stick can be used to push back the cuticles after your soak. Soften the cuticles with olive oil or baby oil. If you want to remove excess or ragged cuticles, consider a cuticle remover cream. These products break down the cuticles with exfoliating ingredients. Be sure to follow the instructions exactly and never leave the cream on longer than the directions recommend.

6. Moisturize. Before applying any polish, moisturize your cuticles and hands. You don’t need a product designed specifically for nails. Keep your home manicure simple and just use your favorite skin moisturizer.

7. Polish. Before applying nail polish, remove any residual oil from your nails left by your moisturizer. A bit of polish remover on a cotton swab will do the trick. Always apply a base coat before your color. Dark nail polishes can stain your nails, and a base coat will help prevent this from happening. Take your time. Apply two coats of color, making sure each coat is dry before applying the next. Finish with a top coat to help minimize chipping.

This article was originally published as Salon Secrets for a Great Manicure on