At Home Manicure Essentials

Essential Tools for an At Home Manicure

Whether you’re attempting to extend the life of a manicure, or you’re looking to give yourself a little at-home spa treatment, there are a few basic tools you should have to keep your nails looking lovely. There are plenty of great home manicure kit options available online but, if you’re like me, you may already have some tools and just need to round out your set, or you simply don’t need everything these kits carry.

Tips and Tools for Extending an Existing Manicure

Depending on the quality of your last manicure before the COVID-19 lockdown, along with your willpower, this ship may have sailed for you. It has for me (RIP to my dip manicure that I made last a month and a half). However, I came across some tools in my efforts to extend that last manicure before lockdown that I will certainly be incorporating into my beauty retinue once society opens up again.

For at least the past two years, I have had regular dip manicures. They’re great and they work so well for me. I’m a chronic nail biter, and dip manicures have been the only type of manicure that I can’t bite down (yes, I even managed to mess up gel manicures). Beyond this, I love how they make my nails feel like I have acrylic nails without all the upkeep.

Anyway, an issue I have with dip manicures is that, if I pop one nail off by accident, then I tend to write the whole manicure off as lost. However, a friend of mine told me about nail glue that you can buy at pretty much any convenience store. Of course, I theoretically knew that I could buy nail glue, but I never thought to use it to reattach a dip nail coat. I bought this nail glue for under $3 and it made my manicure last another week at least.

Once salons open up again, I’m definitely going to keep this nail glue in mind so that, if I pop off one nail, I don’t have to get the whole set replaced.

Do It Yourself At Home Manicure Essentials

If you’re wondering how to do a manicure at home, it’s actually pretty straightforward. For me, there are only a few essential manicure tools that I keep on hand. I know I can never do it as nicely as a professional — especially on my dominant hand — but with some nice nail polish and a few basic tools, it’s easy enough to do it yourself between salons visits.

Find a Good Nail File

First and foremost, I recommend investing in a good nail file, especially if you do dip or gel manicures on a regular basis. I had been trying to file down dip manicure nails with old, worn down novelty nail files — you know, the super cute ones that don’t really work — and it was just an exercise in futility.

I picked up a few like these and they’ve made a world of difference in both maintaining a manicure and doing my nails at home. I also have a curved nail file like this one that has been really helpful for when my nails get super long.

Invest in a Cuticle Trimmer

Cuticle trimmers are a total necessity in my apartment. Whether you’re cutting down the cuticles, trimming a hang nail, or cutting the tag off a new shirt, these things make a world of difference. They’re much more precise than nail clippers, which is why they’re so helpful for cuticle trimming. And, if you’re like me and rarely have long enough natural nails to merit a nail clipper, then you can really get by with this tool alone.

In my opinion, it is worth investing in a nicer pair of cuticle trimmers. I have the Tweezerman Stainless Steel Cuticle Nipper and they have served me well. I actually can’t find our pair right now and it’s been a few days so I may put in an order for another pair if ours doesn’t show up in a day or two. Alternatively, this set is also highly rated on Amazon.

Get a Nail Buffer Tool

I don’t use my nail buffer tool super often, but when I do, I’m very glad I have it. For example, when I removed my dip manicure the other day, I used it to even out the top of my nail which had been kind of torn up from the removal process (I’m impatient and popped them off, and didn’t soak them like I should have). It really helps to just clean up the nail and prevent breakage, in my experience. There are a bunch of options online, but I like the four-sided ones that file, buff, smooth, and shine, as opposed to just file.

Keep Nail Polish Remover on Hand

This might seem like a no-brainer, but as someone who has been getting regular manicures for quite some time, I didn’t realize I was out until I needed it. I usually go for cheaper, acetone-based removers, since I don’t use them much, but I am curious to try this soy nail polish remover.

Consider a Nice Cuticle and Nail Oil

This isn’t really an essential piece of an at home manicure for me, since I have so many moisturizers and facial oils on hand, but it can be a nice addition. I used this highly-rated milk and honey scented oil at a friend’s once and it was really lovely. L’Occitane has a nice nail and cuticle shea oil treatment, but it’s a bit pricy at $19.50 for 0.25 fl oz. I’m intrigued by this lavender scented option, though, from Blossom!

Treat Yourself to Some Fun Nail Polish

Last, but not least, you should have some fun nail polish on hand to wrap up your at home manicure. Orly has some beautiful, vegan formulas that are fun and affordable, like this deep blue-green that is currently calling my name. I recently picked up a bottle of Essie’s new quick dry Essie Expressie nail polish formula in “Mic Drop-It-Low,” which I am liking.

A note on the Essie Expressie nail polish — it’s a bit more difficult than regular nail polish to remove. The colors and texture are great for application, though, and I found it lasted very well. So, in spite of the difficulty I had removing it, I do still recommend it!

Photo includes: Marc Jacobs Sally // Essie Watermelon // NailsInc Victoria // Essie Merino Cool // Essie Expressie Mic Drop-It-Low



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Whether you're attempting to extend the life of a manicure, or you're looking to give yourself a little at-home spa treatment, there are a few basic tools you should have to keep your nails looking lovely. There are plenty of great manicure kits available online but, if you're like me, you may already have some tools and just need to round out your set, or you simply don't need everything these kits carry. See what I keep for at home manicure essentials, and get some fun nail polish recommendations, here!