DIY Fresh Manicure That Lasts (almost as long as gels)

What if I told you that I can help you get a fresh manicure at home that will last almost as long as gels?  Yes, it's totally possible and I usually get it done in about 30 minutes.

Get ready! Long post, lots of photos!

Tools: 

  • Cuticle Softener 
  • Cuticle Oil
  • Makeup Remove Wipes/ Exfoliating Face Wipes
  • Bowl
  • Cuticle Pusher (optional)
  • Orangewood Stick
  • Cuticle Cutter/Nipper (optional) 
  • Nail Trimmer 
  • Nail Buffer
  • Nail File
  • Cotton Balls
  • Alcohol
  • Acetone (Polish remover works too, but I prefer acetone since it's stronger and faster)
  • Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Set 
  • Polish Color of Choice- I used Essie "Blossom Dandy"
  • Mess no more! Liquid Tape for Nails (optional)

Step 1: Remove

  • Tip acetone into cotton to soak through. Remove old polish (if you have darker or red polish on, you might want to use a couple of rounds of cotton to get everything off). 
 
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Step 2: Cut and Trim

  • Cut down your nails (optional). I've taken up climbing so I have to keep these babies as short as possible.
  • Take your file and shape your nails. I keep mine round because that's the strongest shape.
 
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Step 3: Soak

  • Add soap and warm-hot water into bowl. 
  • Soak fingers for about 3-5 minutes.
 
 

Step 4: Push Back

I like transferring my blue cross into a dropper bottle. It makes it easier to apply!

I like transferring my blue cross into a dropper bottle. It makes it easier to apply!

Be gentle when pushing back your cuticles! 

Be gentle when pushing back your cuticles! 

For this step, I recommend that you do one hand at a time

  • Take cuticle softener and add a couple of drops onto your cuticles.
    • Blue Cross is one of my favorite cuticle softener/remover. You can get it Sally's Beauty Supply. Please don't use this if you are allergic to lanolin
  • Take your orangewood stick and begin to push back your cuticles. Move from right to left, going in a crescent-moon shape. If your cuticles get dry, add more softener as you need. 
    • If you want to be gentle, or if you have sensitive cuticles, please keep to using the orangewood stick. It's optional to use a stainless steel cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles. Do not push straight into your cuticle. Raise the pusher to a 45-degree angle, push down onto the nail bed while gently pushing back. Be gentle! 
Don't lay the pusher FLAT

Don't lay the pusher FLAT

Do ANGLE it at 45 degrees

Do ANGLE it at 45 degrees

Step 5: Clean Up

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  • I picked up this tip from dear friend of mine who is a Hollywood manicurist: Take a makeup remover wipe and cut it in half (one for each hand). Fold it over your index finger. Begin pushing back and scraping in a windshield wiper motion from one side of the nail to the other. Use a clean side of the wipe every 2 fingers. You'll see all the gunk come off. 
    • Optional: cut any hang nails or trim any cuticles. Always use a sharp nipper. You actually have more chances of nicking yourself with a duller one. Grab one here.
  • Take your buffer and buff down your nails gently. This eliminates gunk leftover on the nails and gives your nails a fresh start. 
  • Apply cuticle oil all over your cuticles. 
  • Repeat on other hand.
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Step 6: Wash and Prep

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water to get rid of excess oils.
  • Lightly buff the tops of your nails one more time. 
  • Tip alcohol onto a microfiber (a towel works well, too) and wipe down all of your nails.D
    • DO NOT touch your nails with your fingers after!! Polish will last longer and stick better to dry and oil-free nails 
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Step 7: Mess No More! (optional)

This is a great option for those who cannot paint in the line. Think of it like blue tape for your nails! It's kinda magical when you want clean edges. Remember it's not going to be completely perfect, but it does help tremendously! This stuff is great if you want to marble or sponge ombré your nails!

Get it here!

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 Do not use if you are allergic to latex!

  • Paint a fat and wide layer the pink glue around your cuticle- be careful not to get it ON your nail bed! Go as far away from your nail as you need to. 
  • Add a second coat before the first one dries. 
  • Let dry completely

Step 8: Base Coast, Polish, Top Coat

My absolute must-have! 

My absolute must-have! 

Make sure your nails are wiped with alcohol/acetone before painting the base coat! It sticks better- less chips!

Make sure your nails are wiped with alcohol/acetone before painting the base coat! It sticks better- less chips!

Paint as messy as you want! (I painted super messy to show you guys that the "Mess No More!" kinda-sorta-works)

Paint as messy as you want! (I painted super messy to show you guys that the "Mess No More!" kinda-sorta-works)

This gel lab set from Deborah Lippmann is amazing. It paints on like regular polish, but lasts longer and stays shinier. It is a bit thicker than regular polish, so make sure to use a sparing amount when applying! Get it here!  

  • Using a small brush or even a q-tip, wipe nails once more with alcohol or acetone really well. This is what will help your polish stick correctly. 
  • Apply base coat.
  • Apply 2 coats of color - Pick up enough in the brush and float the brush over your nail. Don't jam the brush straight down or else you'll get streaks.
    • Remove the liquid tape after polishing EACH nail with the second coat (while the second coat is still WET). Using tweezers is probably the easiest! If you wait too long like I did, the latex will peel off from under the polish and you'll still have polish stuck on your skin-booo. 
    • TIP if you are a skilled painter: Paint everything but your thumbs first- that way you have your thumbs free to scrape off any polish that hits the sides. Paint your thumbs last
  • Apply top coat. Remember to seal the bottom edge of your nails with one swipe from left to right. (this helps keep your nails from chipping!)
  • Clean up any bits of paint leftover with a small brush dipped in acetone.
    • If you have a copious amount of polish stuck on your skin and on your cuticles, wait 2-3 hours until completely dry and wash your hands in warm water. The excess paint will come right off! 
    • If you hate waiting for polish to dry, try drying drops! They literally "freeze" your polish so you can get going on your date! Beware! Some drops make the "shininess" fade away faster
Peel off latex on each finger right after second coat of polish 

Peel off latex on each finger right after second coat of polish 

Steal the top coat to give you man a couple more extra days. 

Steal the top coat to give you man a couple more extra days. 

Clean up with acetone dipped into a brush

Clean up with acetone dipped into a brush

Remember that practice makes perfect! It took me almost an entire year of constantly painting my right hand with my left to actually get good. Keep trying!

Tip: After 3-4 days, wipe your nails with alcohol (no more than 71%) with a clean microfiber and apply one more layer of top coat. Don't forget to seal! It'll keep your mani looking fresh!

Essie: Blossom Dandy

Essie: Blossom Dandy

Essie: Blossom Dandy

Essie: Blossom Dandy

Disclaimer:  Please be careful when using any tools or chemicals on your skin as most of the ones mentioned in this post are "for professional use only". Please note that I have had my professional license for over 10 years, and the technique I have shown here is my own way of doing my own manicure at home. I am not responsible for anything that happens to you. Following any advice in the blog post is done at your own risk.