How to Give Yourself a Salon Manicure at Home

How to give yourself a salon manicure at home - The Well Dressed Life

Am I the only one who dislikes going to salons to get my hair and nails done? Sometimes I feel like I am missing the “salon is fun” gene. So many of my friends religiously maintain their weekly or monthly appointments, and they always look so perfectly groomed. Me? I find them to be huge time drains; I get antsy sitting in a chair for too long, and inevitably, my introverted tendencies make it almost impossible for me to maintain small talk for more than 15 minutes. Especially after a long day, I find the whole process exhausting.

Aside from all that, it’s not inexpensive. We are weeks away from breaking ground on our reno, so I’m feeling like I’m bleeding money left and right. I have to concede my hair – I haven’t dyed it on my own since college, and we’re not going back to brassy blonde Megan. It’s not worth the risk. But certainly, I can give myself a manicure. So off I went to figure out what I really needed to give myself a salon manicure at home.

How to Give Yourself a Salon Manicure at Home

How to Give Yourself a Salon Manicure at Home

Top Coat, $11.50  |  Nail Polish, $11.50  |  Hand Scrub, $10  |  Cuticle Oil, $20  |  Cuticle Pusher, $12.50  |  Nail File, $2

How to Give Yourself a Salon Manicure at Home

The secret to a quality, shiny, and long-wearing manicure at home is using quality products and taking the time to prep your nails. Here’s how I give myself a salon manicure at home.

  1.  Trim your nails.  I keep mine short because my nails grow fast, I’m always typing and I’m blessed with long nail beds.  Plus, the shorter you keep your nails the less you’ll deal with chipping and the longer your manicure will last.
  2. Use a scrub.  I found this scrub at Target last year and use it almost every day.  It’s great for your body pre self tan and on your hands and nails. It gently exfoliates while leaving your skin soft and smooth.  After I trim my nails I scrub this on my hands and nails and gently push my cuticles back with a warm wash cloth.  It’s a great buy for under $10.
  3. Take care of your cuticles. Depending on the state of your cuticles you might need a little more than just pushing them back with a wash cloth.  To clean up your nail bed, brush this cuticle oil around the area and gently push with with this cuticle pusher.  To keep my cuticles in good shape, and make subsequent manicures easier, I brush a little of the oil on my nails at night before bed.
  4. File. Don’t go crazy with this step.  All you want to do is lightly file down any rough edges. I like this curved file by Butter London because it helps you easily create a “rounded square” shape.
  5. Dry off.  Take a dry towel and wipe any extra moisture off your nails before you polish.
  6. Polish. The woman who used to do my nails regularly did an incredible traditional manicure. I could never figure out what she did that kept it looking so perfect for so many days.  It turns out; she skipped the base coat step. “If you prep the right way, you don’t need it,” she told me. And boy, it makes a huge difference.  Next, use your favorite polish.  I can’t recommend Essie Gel Polish enough.  The colors are pretty, and the formula is so smooth and easy to apply.  The brush is wide and flat, so you can cover your entire nail in three simple swipes.  The trick is to place the brush on your nail bed a little above your cuticle line and then gently push down so the polish spreads evenly.  Two coats of color will do it, then apply the Essie Gel Top Coat.

Below is a picture of my nails FIVE days after I did them.

How to give yourself a salon manicure at home




Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

  1. I stopped going to the salon for a manicure since your last post about using the ballet Opi color and it’s saved me so much time (and money) and I am the other person who hates sitting around at a salon (and also the only person at my hairdresser that spends the entire time on my laptop). Thanks for sharing these new tools – these are great.

  2. This post is awesome. I am always concerned with hygiene regarding the use of salon tools. I have tried bringing in my own supplies, but that isn’t always well-received. I love all of your beauty posts and have purchased the micro-roller you recommended and added cleansing oil to my routine. Thank you so much!

  3. I just tried the Essie Gel polish and love it… I have a very sheer pink, and want to get more colors. I, too, dread the nail salon and tend to leave if there is a wait. The past 2 evenings I drove by and saw a full parking lot (thought I’d get a good manicure with cuticle work, etc) – so kept on driving! My time is too precious… Reading your post today has made me change my mind to use my Essie Gel polish tonight – no stopping at the salon – but maybe to pick up the scrub at Target! Thanks for that tip!

  4. Megan, great post! You didn’t mention anything about how you dry your nails, so what do you recommend to ensure they are dried properly. I find when I do home manicures, I don’t have time to sit and let them dry (I’m a working mom with 3 boys), so when I look at them in an hour, I see all kinds of smudges 🙁 Thanks. And I agree Essie colors are excellent!

    1. Hey Fay! I find that the Essie gels are pretty quick drying. A lot of times I paint my nails and work on my laptop for a bit, or, I do it right before I have to go somewhere and let them dry when I’m driving. Probably not the best thing, but I’m in the same boat and have no time to sit around waiting for them to dry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • This was a really long week and my first business trip since Viv was born.
✈️I flew from Philly to Austin to DC. Got to have dinner with one of my dearest friends, worked with cool people and was treated so nicely by my client.
It actually felt great to put on heels, wear a dress and act like a professional for a few days.
But boy did I miss this munchkin.
❤️I’ll be here for the rest of the night if you need me

Follow Me!


Let's stay in touch! Enter your email to sign up for our newsletter and to get your free copy of our wardrobe checklist

© 2018 Kristel Closets, Inc.

Privacy Policy

We use affiliate links throughout this site. This means that when you click and/or buy a product we recommend, we receive a small commission. That in no way affects our opinion of those products, and we only link to products we personally recommend. Please read our full disclosure policy.