Manicure Essentials

Today’s post is dedicated to giving yourself the perfect at home mani! I typically will go through most of this routine once a week, and it keeps my nails looking healthy and pretty for nail art photos. Read below for photos and tips…


FILING your nails is essential to giving yourself the perfect mani, and also one that is long lasting. Start by removing any remaining polish off of your nails, then file corner to center. DO NOT saw back and forth! The sawing motion makes your nails more prone to breakage, so just file in one direction – no matter what the shape of your nails are. I like to go for a rounded shape, so I’ll file the corners of my nails in at an angle. Nail clippers should only be used for chopping off some major length.

As for the file itself? I use a 180 grit file, you should probably stick between 180-220 for natural nails. The lower the grit, the coarser the file. Definitely do not use below 180, it can be damaging!


BUFFING nails is important to get a smooth surface for polish, and also to remove any staining. I usually will only buff my nails if I need it, doing this too often will thin out your nails. I use this buffer from OPI, it’s 2 sided…one side being 220 grit and the other 280. Just as you did with filing, don’t saw back and forth and only pass each nail a few times.

Cuticle Pushing

PUSHING CUTICLES BACK is essential! But remember – be gentle. There is nothing worse than painting your nails with tons of nasty cuticle ruining the look. I love this Cuticle Remover by Deborah Lippmann, it has a little dropper and some exfoliation, and is great for removing cuticle. If you’re looking for something cheaper I definitely recommend Blue Cross Cuticle Remover, you can find it at Sally Beauty Supply.

I’ll apply the remover just around my cuticles and let it sit for a minute, then I grab my cuticle pusher (I like this one by Sally Hansen, can’t find it online so it must not be sold anymore) and slowly push back cuticle. What you’re doing here is lifting off the DEAD skin – you should see some mushy cuticle coming off when you do this. Just be careful not to push off layers of your nail!

Cuticle Nipping

Ahh…CUTICLE NIPPING…the most asked about part of the manicure! It really is not all that scary if done correctly. Once I push back my cuticles I’ll get cotton with polish remover to clean off the cuticle remover to be able to see clearly what needs to be nipped. You are only nipping DEAD SKIN! If you see dried skin hanging off your nail…nip it. See a hangnail? Nip only the dead portion of skin. This should be done very sparingly. I use this nipper by Tweezerman. If you push back your cuticles really well with a good remover, this may not even need to be done!

Cuticle Oil

Swipe off anything on your nail with polish remover, then add some CUTICLE OIL. This is so important! Its great for adding in moisture to your cuticles and nail beds. I LOVE CND’s Solar Oil. Apply around the cuticle then rub it in.


LOTION. There are all sorts of lotions and hand creams out there, the options are endless! I have so many favorites, but this hand cream by Sally Hansen is super affordable and has a lavender scent (my favorite!). Just apply some and rub it in. I like to do this right after applying cuticle oil so that everything gets applied and absorbed into the skin, and you don’t look too oily.


Using REMOVER at this step is super important! To get polish to adhere better, you need to remove any oil from your nails. I like to use lint-free wipes (paper towels work great too). Using cotton you might get some little cotton fuzzies on your nail that get stuck with the polish. The Stripper by Deborah Lippmann doesn’t have much of a scent and is great for prepping the nail.

Nail Prep

To be sure my nails are extra prepped for polish, I go over the nail with a DEHYDRATOR or cleanser. This is Formula X Cleanse. OPI also has Bond-Aid which works wonderful. You just apply it on like a polish, but doesn’t need any drying time.

Base Coat

BASE COAT is one of the easiest ways to prolong your polish. This is Formula X’s Base Coat. Using base coat will prevent staining the nail, and allows the polish something better and sticky to adhere to.


POLISH! This is Chanel Ballerina, a pinky sheer nude. With each coat, “cap the free edge”. What does that mean? Swipe the polish brush over the tip of your nail and this will help your mani last longer! Apply 2 thin coats, letting it dry for a few minutes in between.

Top Coat

TOP COAT. The polish lover’s obsession is Seche Vite! I honestly have not come across many top coats that compare. Again, cap the free edge with top coat and let it dry. I also occasionally use Sally Hansen Dry and Go Drops if I’m in a hurry!

All done!

All done! Enjoy your manicure and re-apply top coat every couple of days for a long lasting shine and mani!

What are your manicure essentials?



  • Thanks for sharing your rutine – I use a lot of the same products. I can really recommend Nubars top coat. It works just as great as Seche Vite – but without the bad smell! Love your blog by the way 🙂

  • Great post and awesome selection of products! I recommend trying Hoofer’s Choice top coat from Sally Beauty. It’s only $3-4 and I find it very comparable to Seche (except HC isn’t as thick and doesn’t get goopy as quickly).

  • Wow, now I see how important are the prep-steps actually. For the rest of it, I pretty much have the same routine, although sometimes it takes me a while, taking care of my nail relaxes me like very few other things.
    Thanks for the post!

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