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How to Give Yourself a Manicure 
by Cynthia Rice May 23, 2005

Looking good is one of the primary factors that affect a woman’s self-esteem. This article makes simple one of the most effective beauty tools around – the personal manicure.


The manicure has been around for over five thousand years. The Egyptians used henna to color their nails. The Ming Dynasty used nail color to ascertain social status. In the early 1800’s, an almond shape to the nail - pointy at the top - was popular.

Today, everything from the french manicure to fake jewels is the norm. Even men will go to salons, to get their nails trimmed and buffed. What is this fascination with the nail?


Well, it’s perfectly natural to want to look good and our hands are one of the first thing people see when they meet us. First impressions are everything!

Plus, there is nothing like the feeling of stepping out of a salon, whether you were pampered with a facial, a new haircut, or a manicure. Time is precious, though, and we don’t always have that extra hour to devote to beauty – at least not during business hours.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, you can’t cut your own hair, unless you’re crazy-adventurous. Giving yourself a facial is a little difficult – how do you do a proper extraction? But to give yourself a manicure, now that’s one of the easiest things in the world!


The thing about a manicure is this – you’re handicapped while you’re doing it. So, it’s very important that you gather all of your materials ahead of time. There’s nothing that will ruin your manicure faster than fishing around your cupboard for the cuticle stick with wet nails!

You will need...

  • Three types of polish – the base coat, color, and top coat.
  • Nail polish remover
  • Moisturizer
  • Bowl of warm, soapy water
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Hand towel
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Emery Board
  • Cuticle stick
  • Clippers
  • Nail scissors
  • Nail dryer (optional)


The thing we love about salons is the pampering we get from the moment we walk in until the moment we leave. With the right steps, you can transform your home into the tranquil paradise necessary to calm your nerves and make you look and feel your best.

  • Light a scented candle. Vanilla and lavendar are guaranteed to soothe.
  • Put on a classical CD. Peaceful music you don’t hear every day awakens senses and calms nerves.
  • Bar the door with a Do Not Disturb sign. This is your time!


Manicures can be done the easy way or the hard way.

The hard way is this – the wrong way! If you don’t follow the list of proper materials and simply slap on a coat of polish, you’ll be displeased and have to start over again and again. What a waste of time.

You’re smart and savvy! Double check you have everything you need and do it the easy way!


Now that your environment is set and you have everything you need, it’s time to get started.


This step is important because it prepares your hands for their new look. Nail beds are full of germs, so it’s important that your hands are sterile and soft when you begin the new manicure.

  • Remove any previous polish with nail polish remover and cotton ball
  • Soak your hands in the soapy water for five minutes then rinse under warm water
  • Apply moisturizer


Some people have larger nail beds than other. Pushing back the cuticles creates the illusion of a longer looking nail and a more pleasing asthetic.

  • The length when your trimming your nails should compliment your active lifestyle.
  • Using cuticle stick, push down the softened cuticles of your fingers
  • Using nail scissors, trim any hang nails down – be gentle, minimum use of nail scissors is key
  • Using clippers and emery board, trim and file your nails to desired length


The base coat is a step that shouldn’t be skipped. Like an artist priming a new surface, the base coat smoothes out ridges and makes for a more professional look.

  • Apply base coat of polish – an easy technique to apply is to dip the brush into the bottle, wipe one side, then apply the other to your nail in three clean strokes
  • Dip hands into ice water and shake excess off
  • Wait five minutes for base coat to dry (or use nail dryer)


The most difficult step! A steady hand is necessary, but don’t fret unnecessarily. We have that nail polish remover ready for a reason. We’ll fix any mistakes at a later step.

  • Apply color. Use above technique for easy application
  • Dip hands into ice water, allow nails to dry
  • Apply second coat, using same technique as above


Top coat is like armor against the elements. The reason most manicures don’t last as long as they should is that we sometimes skip this very important step. Be sure to give proper time for the color coat to dry – otherwise the top coat will blend with what you already have.

  • Using Q-tip, gently test pinky nail to see if it’s completely dry, no smudging.
  • If yes, apply top coat
  • If no, continue to dry color before applying final coat


Aren’t you lovely?! Look at your nails! Now, don’t get too excited yet. You must, must wait for them to dry, otherwise we will have to start over. Patience is a virtue!

  • Allow final coat to dry
  • Use nail polish remover and Q-tip to clean up any smudges
  • Admire your handi-work!


How did you do? Do your nails look like you went to a professional? If not, don’t worry. Practice makes perfect and Rome wasn’t built in a day!

But for you over-achievers, if you think your nails look amazing this time, get creative!

There are all sorts of things you can buy to give your hands the royal treatment. Pick up some nail jewels to accessorize. Play around with fake nails! Try your hand at the French manicure – always tricky and rewarding!


Be proud and put your best hand forward - you’ve taken the steps you need to look and feel your best!


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