What are your best tips for doing your own manicure or pedicure?

What are your best tips for doing your own manicure or pedicure? Share!

Set aside time to do it, and I think doing it the night (or day) before you plan to show it off is best. When you plan and set aside time, you can do a better job and not worry about being rushed or having to have it dry by a certain time.

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KofcRap Avatar

I usually do mine at night in bed when am sure I won’t be touching water for at least 6 or 7 hours. The longer you go without touching water after you do ur manicure the longer it lasts. Then I use “out the door” top coat to dry my mani pedi fast so it lasts for a while.

joy Avatar

i like to do my nails after washing up for bed. i do my nails, wait for 5 mins until they’re not tacky and go to sleep. this ensures that i’m less likely to damage them and they have plenty of time to dry. that and wrapping the free edge in polish and topcoat. something i didn’t know to do until i started reading blogs!

Codename_Duchess Avatar

I’m amazed that you can sleep without messing them up. Unless I’m using a matte finish polish (which dry almost immediately), I won’t paint my nails within 2 hrs of my bedtime!

Maria @SoNailicious Avatar

Don’t rush. Take your time. Do each layer slowly and stay focused, that will allow to avoid bubbles and minimum clean up time, after you finished your mani. Also, always (like ALWAYS!) use a good quality top coat to make sure your mani lasts.

Alison Avatar

I like to remove the old polish, and then file, push back cuticles, and put down a treatment base coat. Then the next day, I add the new color and the top coat. This makes for two short sessions and means I am more patient about drying time. I also like to do this either by an open window or outdoors (weather permitting.) The solvents and plastics in nail polish are some of the less healthy chemicals to inhale. I even have a little mask I wear (from medical supply store) to cut down on inhalation. I’m in the health field and care about stuff like that. I also vary base coats by the season so that in the winter, I will alternate moisturizing with strengthening ones to keep length throughout the colder months. And in the warmer weather I will just use a favorite– like RBL’s base coat which I love. I also take biotin for nail length.

Aj Avatar

Practice, practice. And start out simple I guess, no need to get directly into nail art if you’re interested, learn the basics first. And make some times out of your schedule, even if you get a fast-drying polish.

Jess Avatar

Take the time to do cleanup (i.e., use a small brush or even a q-tip to remove excess polish from your skin and cuticles as necessary) and use a topcoat. People seem to be amazed that I do my own manis but I think that’s generally because they’re neat and very shiny!

patsyann Avatar

I do my own pedicures and my tip for making the polish last and last without chipping is to add a second top coat the day after the pedicure. In addition, I run the brush across the tips of the nails. I use Out the Door unless I am using Zoya polish. Then I use the Zoya top coat instead. I never get chipping even though I am often bare footed or in sandals.

Caro Avatar

Start painting with your non-dominant hand first! I’m right-handed, so my instinct is to pain my left hand first (with my right hand). But it’s harder to paint with wet nails, so I paint my right hand (with my left hand) first while my left hand nails are still bare. It’s made a HUGE difference in how well I apply the polish! Did all of that make sense??

Eileen Avatar

I always prep an evening ahead: exfoliating, filing, tending to cuticles, and then slathering on a rich hand/foot cream. The next day, I’m ready for the “paint job” :-). As many readers have said, allow plenty of time between coats and don’t try to rush the process.

Codename_Duchess Avatar

Use a good base coat! IMO, a good base coat is even more important than a good topcoat, especially if you have weak nails. There are a lot of polishes out there right now that claim to have a built in base coat, but unless you change your polishes 3x a week I don’t think they’re enough.

Also, don’t be afraid to oil your nails between manicures! Your nails need moisture too!

Heather Avatar

Moisturizing your hands and cuticles make a mani look ten times better when you don’t have rough, scraggly skin poking out. Also, a great top-coat does wonders for smoothing out any slight polish errors. My hands-down go to is HK Girl by Glisten and Glow. It’s THE BEST! Also, clean up any polish around your fingers and cuticles with a brush and acetone. Makes every mani look professionally done.

heather Avatar

I always do my nails before bed and finish after the color with a coat of OPI topcoat and then a coat of either Essie Good to Go fast dry topcoat or the Quick Dry from Seche Vite. The OPI is long lasting and keeps my manicure chip free, but it takes too long to dry and would always dent or get sheet marks. The quick drying topcoats are good for getting them dry but end up chipping within a day or two. The combination of these two topcoats has allowed me to have a manicure that always lasts at least a week and sometimes up to two weeks!

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I don’t do manicures with polish etc because polish doesn’t last even 24 hours. My basic hygiene mani-pedi take minimal time.

Jessica Avatar

I like to do all the nail care (filing, cuticle soak, cuticle removing, buffing) on one day, then the actual nail polishing/decorating on the next day. I find that otherwise, I am too rushed and do a poor job of having a clean look.

charlotte Avatar

If you need any kind of deep moisturizing treatment/cuticle care do it a day ahead with bare nails. Don’t trim cuticles unless absolutely necessary, but do trim hangnails immediately. Never scrape under your nails, there is a connective tissue under the tips that is crucial for the health and strength of your nails. An oval shape is the strongest. Be sure to clean/dehydrate the nails with alcohol immediately prior to applying polish. Let each coat dry before applying the next. Don’t get product on the skin, if you do remove it immediately. Use base coat. Let nails cure several hours before allowing them to get wet or applying any cream/oil. If you like glitter polish consider one of these http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/kiss-all-or-one-artificial-nail-remover/ID=prod1509159-product best thing ever for removing glitter. Wear gloves whenever possible when doing housework, gardening, etc. Apply your skin care for your face to your hands, and don’t forget sunscreen.

charlotte Avatar

Depends on how far back they go.. but it’s generally best to leave it be and use a nail brush if you need to clean underneath. The piece of tissue is called the hyponychium, it provides a seal to prevent any contaminants from entering under the nail, has a high amount of white blood cells to quickly fight any infection, and also acts as an attachment to the nail anchoring it to the tip of the finger. Consistent damage can not only make you prone to infection (think of all the nasty things we put our hands into) but also keep the nail from adhering to the bed correctly causing separation from the nail bed or a nail that grows straight instead of in an arch, which weakens it.

Nicole Avatar

Wow..good to know! Next time I do go to a salon, I will be sure to request they don”t do that. They are always doing that sharp tool and digging out nothing that I can see! Thanks again for the tips!

El Avatar

Open all of the bottles you are going to use before you start, then loosely close all but the first you will use. I have had to re-do nails because the cap was on the top coat bottle so tightly that I wrecked the fresh polish by the time I’d gotten it open!

Telesilla Avatar

I paint them while I’m watching TV or reading on my Kindle. Neither activity requires my hands at all, so it’s easy to avoid to kinds of dents you get even with a fast drying top coat. Also make sure you either have nail polish on already on or wear rubber gloves when doing laundry, especially when you’re moving wet clothes into the dryer. Nothing tears nails like heavy, wet, clothing.

Genevieve Avatar

I prep my nails by cleaning them and attending to the cuticles. I use a base coat, wait for 5 min and then start applying my first coat of colour. Then my second coat and a really good top coat – I use OPI. Then I pray that it won’t be damaged for the next day……

miekogirlie99 Avatar

I usually do it well before i plan to shower. i usually do it well before to ensure it dries completely. The warm water will make the skin around the nail soft & any residual polish can be scraped off gently. if its really stubborn then i take a q-tip & spot treat.

Nicole Avatar

I vowed to help offset my makeup and skincare addiction after summer by not going to the salon for pedi/ manis. I have had pretty much bare toes an nails since..Not gonna work for sandal season! Thanks for the great tips ladies!

Lotus Avatar

1. Eat a good diet and drink loads of water.
2. Religiously moisturizer hands
3. Religiously apply left over lip baume and/or eye cream to cuticles and nails.
4. When you’re ready and have the time, as Christine mentioned, you must prepare your nails by cleaning them dry sans oils. I recommend an organic non acetone nail polish remover. Make sure they are dry!
5. Base coat time. It’s imperative to smooth and prepare your nail’s surface with your choice of product as it won’t let the polish stain and give a wonderful base for applying polish more easily. 🙂
6. Let dry.
7. Polish OR topcoat time! It depends on if you want color or a shiny/matte finish to your already prepped nude nails. Let’s say it’s polish. Choose your polish, carefully apply well.
8. Let dry before any needed additional coats and repeat or just let thoroughly dry.
9. Topcoat time! Choose your favorite topper and carefully apply well.
10. Let dry thoroughly. You don’t want all that hard work to go to waste! O.O
11. Lightly massage a dry oil into hands and gently over nails, it protects the done nails without disturbing the work.
12. RELAX and be HAPPY! You have sexy nails! 😉

heather Avatar

I forgot to mention my secret weapon, which is a $1 ELF concealer brush from Target. It’s really tiny and perfect for cleaning up the edges and making your manicure look professional! Just dip it in a little nail polish remover and voila!


I remove any old polish using Zoya Remove+, if it’s hard to remove polish or GLITTER, I use pure acetone. I add Bliss Kiss cuticle oil or Lush’s Lemony Flutter cuticle butter to my nails, make sure they’re saturated, then I use Zoya Remove+ again to get rid of excess oil. I apply a base coat, two coats of nail polish unless a third is required, then I add a fast drying topcoat. I use Glisten and Glow HK Girl or Seche Vite top coats. Both are good and keep my nails from denting, my nails are completely dry within 5 minutes. If I’m wearing white or a streaky pastel nail polish, I apply a matte top coat after the first layer of polish to allow the second layer to go on smooth. If I need to, I use an Elf concealer brush that I get from Target for $1 to clean up any polish around my cuticles. Then I add more cuticle oil or butter around my nails as needed. I love doing my nails myself, I paint them at least 4 times per week, sometimes more. It is my way of relaxing at the end of the day.

Sylirael Avatar

Basically you need time + good light. Unless you’re just putting one a polish that you can do in 1 coat, dries quick and you know what it works with/looks like.

Always remember that if you mess it up, or dent it later, you can always just chuck a glitter topcoat over it to fix the problem (if you’re OK with glitter topcoats, that is). 😉

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