18 Tips to Make Your At-Home Manicure and Pedicure Look Professional

11 September, 2013

As relaxing as it can be to escape real life (and screaming 2-year-olds, in my case) to head to the nail salon, that hour can be very hard to find each week! Over the years, I’ve found a lot of great manicure and pedicure tips that have made the process faster and easier, and the results look more professional. I’ve also asked a few of my favorite beauty bloggers for their best tips!

The Best Manicure and Pedicure Tips

Have you ever wished you could give yourself an amazing manicure or pedicure? These tips will help teach you the tricks to do it yourself!

Making a Mess Out of Your Cuticles When You Paint Your Nails?

"Make clean-up a snap by applying a light layer of cuticle oil around your cuticles and on the sides of your nails before you polish. The polish is less likely to adhere to the skin, and you can easily wipe it off with a cotton swab soaked in a little polish remover, or an inexpensive polish remover pen found at beauty supply stores!"
- Amber, Beauty Junkies Unite


Easy Glitter Nail Polish Removal

"Ever avoided buying or wearing a super sparkly nail polish because you just know it will take FOREVER to remove it once you want a polish change? A simple and effective Glitter Nail Polish Removal trick is to take soak a cotton pad in nail polish remover and then wrap the pad and nail in aluminum foil to prevent evaporation of the remover. Wait a few minutes, twist off and all that stubborn glitter is gone."
- Elvira, The Pink Sith Blog


How to Thin Nail Polish

"Is your nail polish getting thick and clumpy? Don't throw the bottle out! A few drops of nail polish thinner will replace the missing solvents in your nail polish and make it good as new. Don't try this with acetone or nail polish remover, neither mix well with nail polish and they'll make the situation worse."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty


A Nail Polish Trick for the Short-Nailed and Klutzy

"This little trick can save you a ton of time in nail polish clean up! Take a magazine subscription card from whatever magazine you have laying around. Cut a few half circles out of the edge. Don't worry about making them perfect. Place the first finger you are going to polish into half-circle that fits it best, inserting the card just slightly under the edge of your short nail. Even if your nail is shorter than short, you can make this happen painlessly. Now paint the surface of your nail, without getting it all over your skin."
- Kelly, Gouldylox Reviews



Smooth Out Those Bumpy Glitters!

"Love the look of glitter nail polish, but hate the way it feels? If you are like me, having bumpy glitter polish on my nails drives me absolutely bonkers. Resist that urge to peel by smoothing out your bumpy glitter nail polish. Simply add 1 or 2 coats of a clear coat over your nail polish. Cover with top coat as usual."
- Jessika, polish insomniac

What To Do When You Can’t Open That Bottle of Polish

"Can't open your nail polish because the lid is stuck to the bottle? Don't use your teeth! To unstick a bottle of polish you only need a glass of warm water!"
- Jessika, polish insomniac

Smooth Polish Application

"Have you ever wondered how the pros can get perfect polish application in 3 strokes? I place the end of my brush in the middle of the nail, a few millimeters from the cuticle (look at the light blue line, that's roughly where I place the brush). I push/wiggle the brush right up to the cuticle (the yellow squiggle), and let the brush fill in the nail right up to the cuticle. I do like about a millimeter of space there, but if it gets on the cuticle that's fine. Then I pull the brush along the nail (green arrow). Usually I have enough polish on the brush that there will be some extra off to either side. I use this polish to help me repeat the process off to the sides. I cover the entire nail in 3 strokes, though I sometimes need 4 for my thumb. I do not reload the brush in between stroke on each nail, this results in too much polish."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty

Precise Polish Cleanup

"The easiest way to clean up a manicure is with a makeup brush! Buy a cheap stiff angled liner brush (you don't want it to have a painted finish, look for plastic or wood). Pour a little acetone into a Dappen dish and paint the acetone on to your mistakes! The brush will be stiff enough to wipe away polish, agile enough to get under the edge of your nail but won't leave behind and lint like a cotton swab."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty

Speed Up Your Down Time

"Do you love switching your nail color but hate dealing with dry time? Do you always end up smudging your nails before they are dry? Try a quick-dry top coat! They totally do work!!! My favorite is Seche Vite. It dries your polish to the touch very quickly and leaves a super glossy shine. I literally can't live without this top coat! "
-Pam, Pammy Blogs Beauty


A Multi-Tasking Bath Mat

"I'm not a fan of bending over to scrub dead skin off of my feet, and will skip that step if I'm even remotely pressed for time. To keep my feet soft and pretty, I've been using the Solevation. I just move around on it while washing my hair, soaping up, you name it! It smooths my heels for me."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty


Want Stronger Nails?

"Your grandma may have told you to take calcium or eat gelatin to make your nails strong, but neither of those will be helpful. Instead you should reach for biotin to help your nail grow faster and stronger! Studies have shown that biotin also helps with splitting."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty


Upgrade Your Nail File

"Do you dread filing your weak and peeling nails? Here is a beauty expert tip: Try using a crystal nail file! Crystal files work to gently shape even the most fragile and delicate nails! The fine surface of the crystal file prevents splitting and peeling of natural nails. Plus, the files are washable and last forever!"
-Pam, Pammy Blogs Beauty


Protect Your Cuticles for Easier Clean Up

"If cleaning up your manicure or pedicure is really a chore, or you'll be planning something like a Water Marble manicure, you can protect your cuticles from the mess! Liquid Palisades is a product that you brush on to your cuticles, and once your manicure is dry you can simply peel it off. It is great for mess nail art or dark colors that are particularly difficult to clean up perfectly."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty


Super Soft Hands

"The secret to super soft and moisturized hands is Johnson's Baby Oil Gel. I apply the gel daily to my cuticles to help push them down. Just massage it in nightly and wake up with pampered digits. To make the benefits of the Baby Oil Gel go farther, I've been adding a tablespoon of sugar to a tablespoon of Baby Oil Gel and mixing it up to make an incredible hand and body scrub. It smells fantastic, it makes your hands as smooth as silk."
- Kelly, Gouldylox Reviews

Easier Polish Removal

"Believe it or not, your kid's craft felt is the answer to easier nail polish removal. It is much better than cotton rounds or ball at polish removal! I can press much harder than with a cotton ball, it won't fall apart on me and there's no lint to deal with. A 3 inch square is enough to remove a mani or pedi. I recommend using white felt, sometimes colors will bleed with nail polish remover."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty

Peeling and Brittle Nails? Skip the Shellac!

"Who doesn't want a mani that lasts for weeks? There are many pros and cons of Shellac and it's best to opt for a shorter mani life and healthier nails! I live by Zoya Color Lock System to keep my polish intact for a length of time without chipping or peeling."
-Shannon, A Girl's Gotta Spa!

Perfect Cuticles Without Cutting Skin

"Perfect cuticles are easier than you think! The key is upkeep. Even with midwest winters and working in an ICU I can keep my cuticles looking great with just a minute or two a day. First, never cut your cuticles! That's just asking for a nasty cuticle infection (the medical term is paronychia). Instead, I use a cuticle remover once a week, gently pushing my cuticles back with a thumbnail and running it along the cuticle to remove any excess. Next you'll need to keep your cuticles moisturized! I use whatever hand cream is available throughout the day, but at night I intensively treat my cuticles. I first add a layer of oil, quickly massaging it into the skin. Once that has somewhat absorbed, I follow it up with a thick, almost waxy cuticle cream. A thick cream will seal in the oil, really helping to hydrate the cuticle."
- Christine, 15 Minute Beauty

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover $5.99
Orly Cuticle Therapy Creme $8.39
CND Solar Oil $7.50
Lush Lemony Flutter $16.95

By Christine Mikesell