Your essential guide to a DIY manicure

Perfectly polished nails in just a few simple steps

No time for a professional paint job? No problem.

Achieving a salon-worthy result is a cinch with a little bit of practice and insider know-how. Cue up that episode of Downtown Abbey, line up your tools and get set to show off flawless fingers in just a few steps. 

1

Prep

Remove all traces of old lacquer. Massage in an oil to hydrate the fragile skin around the cuticle and stimulate blood flow.

TryEssie Apricot Cuticle Oil

essie apricot oil

2

Shape

If needed, trim with scissors for soft, weak nails, or clippers if they’re strong. Buff edges into a “squoval” shape (square across the top with rounded edges) and finish by filing underneath to neaten the tip.

3

Smooth

Once a month, gently smooth away ridges to promote healthy nail growth. Go with the ridge and not across it. That is, if the ridges are vertical, work from the cuticle to the tip, or from side to side if they’re horizontal.

4

Tidy

Gently push back cuticles with a cotton-wrapped cuticle stick or cuticle pusher. Gently nip away hangnails, but never cut the cuticle unless you have to. Wipe again with nail polish remover.

5

Protect

Apply a thin layer of base coat (or nail treatment instead, if needed). This will help create a smooth base for your polish and can improve the longevity of your manicure.

TryButter London Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat

Butter London nail foundation base coat

6

Colour

Paint on two coats of your chosen polish. Try keep your layers quite thin, as if you apply too much, your manicure will take longer to dry and you're more likely to smudge your nails.

7

Finish

Seal in the colour and add brilliant shine with one layer of topcoat. This extra step will also help keep that professional-looking manicure from chipping.

Try: Dior Top Coat Abricot

Dior Top Coat Abricot

8

Set

If you’re short on time, apply speed drops to rush the drying process.

Main image credit: Getty

Alex is BEAUTYcrew’s Digital Content Director and has been since the site launched in 2016. She’s constantly on the search for the perfect shade of nude nail polish and lipstick for fair skin and battles with keeping her fragrances on rotation to under a dozen. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and in previous issues of marie claire.

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