As much as I love a great manicure, I hate the idea of paying someone to paint my nails as often as I would like. If you’re anything like me and you’re constantly changing the look of your nails, you know how expensive that can become. Whether you wear fake nails or prefer to keep it au naturale, you don’t need to go to an expensive nail salon to get your nails done. Check out my list of must haves for achieving a great manicure right at home.
- Nail polish remover and cotton pads. Whether you have old polish on your nails or not, nail polish remover is great for removing any stains or imperfections from your nails. I prefer using cotton pads instead of cotton balls because they seem more efficient and less messy. A conditioning nail polish remover is ideal for regular polish, but acetone remover is great for removing glitter. Just remember it can be extremely drying to your hands and nails.
- Nail kit. A nail kit with the standard tools is perfect for maintaining your nails. Make sure your kit also includes a cuticle pusher.
- Cuticle remover. Instant cuticle remover gel or cream works by breaking down excess cuticles so you can remove them easily, cutting down the time it takes to do a manicure. The benefit of using a cuticle remover is that it removes dead skin and elongates the nail bed. I recommend “Instant Cuticle Remover” by Sally Hansen.
- Hand and Nail Cream. Nothing ruins a great manicure like dry, ugly hands. Choose a product that strengthens nails, conditions cuticles, and keeps your hands and nails moisturized. Expensive products aren’t necessary, shea butter and coconut oil works wonders.
- Nail treatment. My idea of a nail treatment is an all-in-one product that is used as a base coat to protect nails from yellowing and discoloration, a strengthener to protect nails from breaks and splits, and a top coat to preserve polish and resist chips and smudges. I recommend “Start to Finish Base Coat, Top Coat & Nail Strengthener” by OPI or “Complete Care for Dry Brittle Nails Extra Moisturizing 4-in1 Treatment” by Sally Hansen. Both products are about $12, but it’s likely cheaper than buying three separate products to perform each duty.
- Nail polish. Probably a no-brainer, but my favorite part of doing a manicure is choosing from a wide range of beautiful nail polishes. Don’t be afraid to try different colors, textures, and finishes. I think a great nail polish collection has an array of solids, duochromes, glitters, and mattes.
- Nail art brushes. Even if you’re not a budding artist, nail art brushes make it easy to add a little creativity and whimsy to a boring manicure. You can find anywhere from 5 to 15 piece nail brush kits all over the Internet, but I think you only really need about 4 brushes for most nail art designs. These brushes include: Liner brush – used for outlining and making small lines, Striping brush – used for making long lines and stripes, Detailer brush – used for adding details, highlights and creating intricate designs, and Clean up brush – used for removing polish from around the cuticles. I also highly recommend a Dotting tool for making dot flowers and for water marbling.
- Liquid Palisade. Think of Liquid Palisade as “painter’s tape” for your manicure. It’s a liquid barrier that you apply before painting your nails to protect your cuticles from polish. You simply peel away the product once you polish your nails. This comes in handy for water marbling, sponge polishing, and French manicures.
- Youtube. If you feel you’re lacking the skills or creativity it takes to achieve a great manicure, there’s a ton of great nail tutorials online to help you get started.