If your nails are starting to feel a little neglected with all that’s going on right now, it’s safe to say you’re not alone. With COVID-19 government-enforced closures depriving us of our trusted salons and never-fail nail shades, and fingertips that could use some attention, mastering an at-home manicure with a professional touch might just be the distraction and new self-care routine you need to feel polished whilst working from home.
Whether you’re a long-term lover of acrylic nails, addicted to SNS, or get fortnightly gel manicures, there’s an at-home kit out there for you, and the key to a salon-quality finish is making sure you’re using the right tools for the job (and don’t forget about the prep work, too).
Below, we share some of the best kits for your at-home nail bar to tide you over until restrictions have lifted.
But first, the groundwork
Before you even think about picking a colour, take the time to trim, shape and buff your nails, as this will give you the best possible canvas for your DIY manicure. If you don’t have nail clippers/scissors, a nail file or buffing block on hand, you can get them individually, or you can pick up an all-in-one manicure set, like the Manicare 5 Piece Grooming Kit ($29.95 at Priceline).
If your cuticles need some taking care of, apply some Sally Hansen Problem Cuticle Remover™ ($14.95 at Priceline) around your cuticles and under your nails, leave for about five minutes, and then gently push back your cuticles with a pusher or manicure stick, and trim and tidy the dry skin.
If you want salon-level results from your at-home manicure, then you’re going to want to get your hands on the Finishing Touch Flawless Salon Nails ($39.99 at Finishing Flawless Touch). Not only does this cool little piece of kit come equipped with every kind of attachment you’ve seen a pro-level nail tech use, but it features intuitive innovations that’ll turn even a complete rookie into a nail artist. Scared of filing away every last precious inch of your nails? This smart-guy automatically stops when too much pressure is applied, minimising the risk of damage. Plus, it has an in-built LED light, multiple speeds and six interchangeable heads. Phew, we’re almost wondering if we want to leave our house to get a manicure anymore (just kidding).
The DIY SNS manicure
If an SNS manicure is your go-to, the SNS Dipping Powder Starter Kit ($130 at eBay) will see you through isolation. With six of SNS’ signature dipping powders and some liquid essentials (including a base coat, topcoat, bond sealer, and vitamin oil), you’ll be able to transform your clean nails in no time at all. And if you’re after specific dipping shades, all you need to do is let them know which ones you’d like in the kit!
Ready to remove your SNS manicure? Follow these steps.
The DIY acrylic manicure
Can’t give up your acrylics? That’s ok, because the COSCELIA Manicure Kit Acrylic Powder Liquid Gel Nail Polish Basic Tools Set ($22.99 at eBay), paired with the 500PCS/ Box Clear Solid Natural French False Acrylic Nail Art Tips UV Gel DIY ($11.50 at eBay) give you the tools you need to create the glossy manicure that’ll last weeks. And the best part? The oddly satisfying art of smoothing and shaping the acrylic bead to your nails is bound to relax you.
Ready to remove your acrylic manicure? Follow these steps.
The DIY gel manicure
If you don’t want to go without your fortnightly gel manicure session, you can do your own with the help of the Gelicious Peel Off Gel Nail Starter Kit ($99 at Catch). With an LED lamp, three classic shades and everything else you’d need to prep, apply and remove, this set takes the guesswork out of recreating a salon-worthy gel manicure.
Ready to remove your gel manicure? Follow these steps.
The cheat’s gel manicure
If you love the look of your gel manicure, but you’re not quite ready to tackle the whole process by yourself at home, that’s ok. There are plenty of polish options that can help you emulate the look and feel of a gel manicure that are as fuss-free as applying as regular polish (yep, there’s no need for a UV lamp). You can try CND Vinylux™ ($34.95 at Beautopia) a two-step polish system that has same shades as the famous Shellac ones, or there’s also the budget-friendly essie Gel Couture ($16.95 at Adore Beauty) or Sally Hansen Miracle Gel™ ($13.99 at Chemist Warehouse), which you’d use with the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel™ Top Coat ($13.99 at Chemist Warehouse). And if you’re a fan of OPI’s gel manicure shades, you’ll be happy to know you can pick up the same shades in the long-wear OPI Infinite Shine range ($22.95 at Adore Beauty).
While these won’t give you the same longevity or chip-free wear as a gel manicure, these gel-like formulations will give you longer wear than regular polish (some up to 12 days) and a similar glossy, voluminous finish.
Don’t forget the finishing touches
Once you’ve finished your at-home mani, don’t forget to massage in some cuticle oil. We love Revlon Essential Cuticle Oil ($9.39 at Chemist Warehouse), Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème ($14.95 at Adore Beauty), and Revitanail Nourishing Oil ($14.95 at Chemist Warehouse).
Alex writes fashion and beauty news for marie claire, InStyle and BEAUTYcrew. When she’s away from her desk, you’ll find her deep in the skincare shelves of the beauty cupboard, or frantically searching for the latest tinted lip balm to escape her possession.