Guide for Great At-Home Manicures

2014-09-19 12.26.15Over the past year, I’ve had a number of people compliment my nail colors, ask where I got my nails done (when I’ve done them myself), tell me I do a wonderful job painting my own nails, and ask how in the world my manicure holds up for at least a week, and even longer, when I do it myself. Since so many people seem shocked when they find out I’ve done my nails myself, I’ve finally decided to let everyone know my routine, so they can have great manicures too!

The first thing I think everyone needs to do in order to have a good at-home manicure, is to determine if you have any nail needs. This is important because if you don’t cater to issues your nails might be having, your manicure isn’t going to hold up as well as it should. What do I mean by nail issues? My nails are quite thick, however, yours might not be. Using a base coat that caters to hardening nails would be something beneficial for you. My nails in particular are prone to splitting, mainly at the tops around the free edges of my nail, which was the main reason I would have nail polish chipping in the past. My polish itself wasn’t chipping off, but rather, a layer of my nail was peeling off, taking parts of polish with it. Because I know this is a problem and can cause issues with my manicure, I found something that helped it.

Moving on!2014-09-16 09.39.39

Step One: Remove any nail polish currently on your nails with nail polish remover. While I know acetone is not the best remover I could be using, it works wonders when it comes to removing glitter polish.

Step Two: Wash your hands with soap and warm water.

Step Three: Using a cuticle pusher, gently push down your cuticles. You’ll notice some dust, for lack of a better word, starting to appear. That’s ok. Taking the pointed end of your cuticle pusher, gently remove any dust and any left over polish residue under your cuticle or around your nail edge that may remain from your previous mani. DO NOT WASH YOUR HANDS!!

Step Four: THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT! Run a cotton ball with nail polish remover over your nails. No need to scrub, because you already removed your polish. This time you are just cleaning up any remaining residue. It’s important to complete this step, rather than washing your hands again. If you washed your hands again, you could be depositing soap residue or fibers from the cloth you dried your hands on, onto your nails, which won’t allow your polish to set properly, thus ruining your mani before you even start it! That’s no good.

Step Five: Begin with your base coat. I use Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Green Tea + Bamboo Strength which I’ve mentioned in a previous Favorites post. This is what I find helps with my nails splitting all the time. It seems to “seal” the areas that are beginning to split. Apply 1 thin coat.2014-09-15 21.30.18

Step Six: Once your base coat is dry and no longer sticky, you can begin applying your polish. Apply in thin layers and try to cover your entire nail quickly. If you work too slow, the polish can sometimes be ‘pulled’ by the brush when you are trying to paint the rest of your nail. If you apply too thick of a layer, the top will start to dry creating an uneven manicure and can also cause indentations in your polish. Or you’ll think your mani is completely dry, only to find out it wasn’t… Thin layers are key!!! Many people get annoyed when the first coat is slightly see-through or uneven looking, but that’s what multiple coats are for! When you’re applying your layers of polish, always be sure to wait until your current layer is no longer tacky before applying your next coat. Yet again, this is important so you’re not “pulling” your polish.2014-09-15 22.02.31

Step Seven: Once you have finished layering your coats of polish and they are no longer sticky, you can apply your top-coat. I use Butter London’s Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat. I really love this one because the shine it leaves is similar to gel manis and it also dries quickly. It also doesn’t thicken up over time like I’ve experienced with other top-coat polishes. You’ll know what I mean if this has happened to you.2014-09-15 22.59.09

Step Eight: Once your top coat has been on your nails for 5 minutes, apply some quick dry drops to your nails. Angle your nails downward when you apply the drops, so they move from your cuticle downward to the tip of your nail.2014-09-15 22.16.46

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Step Nine: Wait. Just sit there and relax. And wait it out. This is seriously coming from one of the most impatient people ever, so I know you can do it!! Honestly, when I’m waiting for my polish to finish drying, I watch Youtube videos, or read other blogs, websites, etc. You can still type on your computer if you’re careful!

I didn't use Julep's Freedom Polymer Top Coat on my nails this time, but it is also a good top coat option.

I didn’t use Julep’s Freedom Polymer Top Coat on my nails this time, but it is also a good top coat option.

Step Ten: After your nails have successfully dried, take your cuticle pusher and using the pointy end, gently scrap off any polish that made it onto your skin.

You’re finished! Enjoy your new manicure! I will say, try not to paint your nails right before you know you’re going to be scrubbing out a cast iron skillet or some other task requiring your hands doing some sort of rough work. Even though your mani is dry and ready to go, it does take some time to really set and harden before it can handle certain tasks.

Some polish brands also recommend re-applying a topcoat every few days to keep your mani sealed. I will admit, I don’t do this very often, but occasionally, if I’m just sitting at my desk, I might quickly apply a topcoat.

So there you have it! My extremely long-winded guide for how to paint your nails at home, and have them still looking great by the end of the week! I commend you if you made it to the end of this!

Have an awesome weekend, and if you try out my guide to painting your nails, let me know how it works out!

Bows and Arrows,


April Favorites

I’m not sure how many of you out there are enjoying this monthly tradition I began in December, but I’m still sticking with it anyway!  Give me some feedback as to what you think about my monthly favorites posts!  This month, I’ll keep it short and sweet.  (So sorry I’m posting it so late!)

 Talenti Gelato in Sea Salted Caramel

Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato

Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato

Umm.  Nom.  Seriously.  That’s all I feel that I need to say about this delicious dessert.  I already raved about it in one of my previous WIAW’s as well!  Just go buy some and try it, and you’ll understand.

Ulta brand Professional Cuticle Pusher

In March, I got my nails painted with the awesome Shellac that is the current trend in nails.  It’s amazing because it doesn’t chip, but then your nails grow and you have this section of unpainted nail right there by your cuticle.  If you choose to not go back to the salon to get them redone, you have to struggle to take off the polish yourself.  I’ve found that this cuticle pusher helps with that, so you aren’t stuck peeling a layer of your nail off with the polish.  It’s also great because when you do your nails yourself, you can actually push your cuticle down without it hurting!  Pushing your cuticle down before polishing also makes for a better at-home manicure.  (P.S.-It works sooooo much better than those little wooden sticks)  Get one here.

Sally Hansen Strength polish and Ulta brand cuticle pusher

Sally Hansen Strength polish and Ulta brand cuticle pusher

Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition- Strength with Green tea and Bamboo

Speaking of nails, this nail nutrition polish is great to use after having shellac on your nails for a while.  It also helps with nail splitting, which happens to me often.  I will say that I have always had pretty thick nails that don’t break easily, so I don’t know how it would work in making nails stronger in that manner, but for nails that split, this is recommended!

Vans Atwood Low Sneaker, in Black/White


Vans Atwood Low Sneaker, in Black/White

I found these gems at DSW.  They are oh so comfy, no breaking in required.  And I’ve received a lot of compliments from them when I’ve worn them (which has been a lot this month)!  You can get a pair here!  I did get my true size.

Hello Kitty Pencils

There's a pink one as well, I was just too lazy to find it in my purse to photograph. :p

There’s a pink one as well, I was just too lazy to find it in my purse to photograph. :p

Ok.  I know this is just a silly thing to put on my list, but I really do like using pencils, I don’t know why.  I found these in the dollar section at Target, and they are kinda nostalgic.  Back to the time when I actually used the pencils like these, before mechanical pencils were all the rage (remember that?).  And I like Hello Kitty, so win-win!

Hyperbole and a Half, the book

Hyperbole and a Half, the book

Hyperbole and a Half, the book

I have always loved her site, but when I saw that the book had been released, and was an extra 20% off at Target, I had to pick it up.  Allie Brosh is hilarious, and if you’ve never heard of her, or her site, check it out here.  The book contains both new content, and content from the website, but I can never get enough.  ALL THE THINGS!!!

Joffrey Dying (Game of Thrones, duh!)


If you watch this show, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I don’t even need to explain why this was one of my favorite things in April.  If you don’t watch the show, shame on you.

Transport Tote

My transport tote hanging out at the NC Farmer's Market

My transport tote hanging out at the NC Farmer’s Market

This was my present for getting a full time job, and I love it so!  I have always wanted it, and now I finally have it!!!  If you would like one too, you can get one here.  I promise you won’t regret it.


Bam.  Lynda’s faves for the month of April.  What are you guys thinking?!  I’d love to know!  Do you have any of these items?  What’s your take on my monthly favorites post?  Let me know in the comments below!

Bows and Arrows,