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How to Give Yourself a Manicure: Step-by-step Instructions

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How to Give Yourself a Manicure: Step-by-step Instructions
Why spend money every few weeks on a professional manicure when you can do it yourself at home? Follow the steps below to get a salon-worthy manicure and get the scoop on some of my best manicure secrets. Also see How to Give Yourself a Pedicure.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 20 minutes to do, 20 minutes to dry

Here's How:

  1. Start by removing your old nail polish. You can choose an acetone-free polish remover if you have a light shade or an acetone remover for darker shades (acetones can be drying to the nails). To get rid of polish stuck in the corners of nails, use an orangewood stick with the end covered in cotton and dipped in nail polish remover. Stained and yellowed nails? Fix them fast using the tips included in How to Get Rid of Nail Stains.
  2. Clip your nails straight across to the length you prefer, then file nails in one direction so the corners are slightly rounded. Finish off by filing with the fine-grade side. To ensure your nails are the same length after filing, line each nail up with its counterpart.
  3. Apply cuticle remover to cuticles. See my list of the best cuticle creams. You can skip this step if you don't have cuticle remover or don't want to bother with it. I don't blame you.
  4. It's important to soak nails before pushing back your cuticles. Prepare a nail soak by placing a few drops of jojoba or almond oil (in a pinch, any oils will do) in a bowl of warm water. Soak your hands for 5 minutes. Pat dry.
  5. Now onto the cuticle prep. Twist a piece of water-moistened cotton onto the end of an orangewood stick and gently push back your cuticles. Unless you're a pro at it, I don't recommend cutting the cuticles because you risk nicking your skin (been there, done that and it's not fun). Use the orangewood stick to clean under each nail.
  6. Soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and clean nails. This preps your nails for the polish. You want to have as clean a surface as possible before applying polish.
  7. Starting with the pinky finger, apply a thin base coat to all 10 fingers. A base coat protects your nails from the polish.
  8. Now onto the fun part: the polish! When painting nails, the thinner the coat, the better. Try wiping one side of the brush on the bottle, then use the other side to paint nails. For best results, apply polish in 3 strokes: Down the center, down one side and then down the other.
  9. Wait 2 minutes, then apply a second coat of polish. Prevent chips by brushing the polish over the edge and wrapping the polish under the nail.
  10. Clean up any errant polish with an orangewood stick wrapped in cotton and moistened with polish remover.
  11. Finish with a clear top coat. Let nails dry at least 20 minutes.

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