at-home manicure supplies

My At-Home Manicure Routine

My step-by-step routine for an easy, inexpensive at-home manicure that looks great.

Good morning, friends – how are you?  The beginning of this week wasn’t exactly productive around here, but yesterday was better.  As it turns out, starting at the bottom in a new field takes a lot more energy and grit (not that I’ve actually shown grit) than working a job you know intimately.  So today, I’m taking a break to talk manicures. 🙂

Of all the things I manage to justify purchasing, manicures and pedicures rarely make the list.  I chip nail polish with record speed, and I’d much rather sit in my recliner than go out and make small talk.  If you, too, are apparently an old man, read on for an inexpensive at-home manicure routine.

 Use a nail buffer to create a smooth surface.

I like this 7-way nail buffer by Trim because the three rough surfaces (labeled steps 1, 2, and 3 right on the tool) eliminate ridges effectively.  I usually stop after step 4, which helps even out the surface of your nails once you’ve sanded away ridges.  However, you can use the rest of the block to buff and shine if you don’t plan to use polish later.

at-home manicure supplies

Clip and file nails.

I spent the better part of my life wondering how to properly file my nails and eventually went down the YouTube rabbit hole to find out.  I learned that the key is to always file in one direction, because scraping back and forth can cause unevenness between the layers of your nail.  I now file each side in the direction of nail growth, away from my hand, and then go across the top of my nail to shape it if necessary.

Treat and push back cuticles.

Next, I squirt Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover onto my nails and leave it on for about thirty seconds.  This product will remove those thin pieces of cuticle that have grown up onto your nail bed, but not the part that actually protects your nail.  I use the flat end of an orange wood stick to gently push back my cuticles, then wash my hands with soap and water.

at-home manicure supplies

After that, I apply some Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream and allow it to sink in for several minutes.  You could also treat your hands to a nice, thick lotion at this point.


Even if I’ve waited quite some time for my moisturizing creams to sink in, I like to swipe a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover across my nails to make sure they’re totally clean and polish will adhere properly.

at-home manicure nail polish

at-home manicure

I start with a strengthening base coat because my nails tend to tear and split easily, then paint on two coats of color.  I favor Essie polish because I find it easiest to apply, but my Sally Hansen and OPI polishes seem to last longer.

I finish up with whatever clear topcoat I have on hand – at the moment it’s Sally Hansen’s Double Duty Base and Top Coat.  Finally, if I’m really feeling motivated, I’ll dip a Q-Tip into my nail polish remover bottle and use it to clean up any mistakes.  A cotton pad wrapped around an orange stick will also do the trick here.

  • What’s your favorite nail polish brand?
  • Do you prefer at-home manicures or having your nails done professionally?

2 thoughts on “My At-Home Manicure Routine

  1. Elaine Peterson

    Thanks for your routine.
    Essie and OPI are my favorite brands! I start with a base coat, Nail Life (Nail Revitalizer) on clean nails, a couple of coats of polish and then a top coat. I have had great success with the Essie Gel-Setter Top Coat and Seche Vite top coat. Both are high gloss top coats and keep the polish good for 5-7 days!


Leave a Reply