An undeniably great skill to master

We love nothing more than a fabulous nail look, but while a trip to the nail salon is always fun, if you are stretched for time or looking to save money, you can just as easily do a manicure at home. There’s a lot more to it than simply painting your own nails. So, we spoke to manicurist Georgia Rae about how to do a home manicure that lasts.

1. “Gently begin by pushing back your cuticles using a cuticle pusher or an orange wood stick. It’s a good idea to give them a gentle soak first so they’re nice and soft.”

2. “Nip away any dead skin using a cuticle clipper, being careful not to get carried away. Only nip the unsightly, obvious bits! Dead skin will show up as white so use that as a guide, you don’t want to nip any living tissue.”

3. “File your nails into your desired shape using a nail file. Try to file in one direction to avoid splitting the layers of your nail. I like a soft square shape so I take the file down the sides of the nail, then along the top and round off the corners slightly. Assess from every angle as you go!”

4. “Exfoliate your hands using a dry body brush and an exfoliating scrub. This will leave your hands glowing and improve the overall end result of your at-home manicure.”

5. “Wipe your nails with a cotton pad soaked with non-acetone nail polish remover to take off any surface oils or residue from the scrub. You can then apply your chosen polish. When using nail polish I often opt for just a tinted base coat as it looks clean, it’s easy to apply and dries super quick!”

6. “Keep your coats thin and glide your brush over the surface of the nail using light pressure to achieve a more even application. If you’re applying colour try to wait five to 10 minutes between each coat. Keep a separate brush handy that you can dip in nail polish remover to clean up any mistakes.”

7. “Once your polish is dry, help rehydrate your skin with a nourishing moisturiser and oil. Re-apply the moisturiser and massage the oil into your cuticles as often as possible throughout the day, especially before bed to allow the products to work overnight. This will increase the longevity of your manicure and improve the overall health and appearance of your hands and nails.”

Check out this article on how to apply gel nail polish.

From the essential tools to have in your kit to how to file your nails without causing breakage, watch our tutorial on how to file and shape your nails to master a salon-worthy manicure at home. 


Well, you can’t do a manicure at home without products, can you? Here are a few of our favourites for every step of the process.

1 of the best products for soaking your nails

Clean hands are always very welcome in today’s world, but soaking your hands in warm water with a nice hand wash can work wonders for your cuticles too.

Try: Liz Earle Orange Flower Botanical Hand Wash

• Size: 200ml

Make handwashing a luxury as opposed to a chore with this hand wash. Scented with geranium, lavandin and sweet orange essential oils, it leaves hands clean and soft.

1 of the best hand scrubs

We exfoliate our bodies with scrubs to keep them soft, so why not our hands? The extra step in doing a manicure at home that you didn’t realise you needed.

Try: No7 Beautiful Skin Revitalising Hand Polish

• Size: 75ml

• Hypoallergenic

This doesn’t just contain salt crystals to exfoliate, it’s also formulated with grapeseed and almond oils to moisturise!

3 of the best hand masks

Beauty sleep gains yet another focus with hand masks, which are, unsurprisingly, masks for making your hands look beautiful. You don’t have to leave them on overnight, of course, but they work wonders if you do.

Try: Fenty Skin Hydra’Reset Instant Recovery Glycerin Hand Mask 

• Size: 75ml

40 percent glycerin certainly counts for something here, but it’s not the only ingredient in this hand mask that will make your hands lusciously soft – it contains a potent mix of plant extracts and fruit oils to help with that too!

Try: Patchology Perfect Ten Hand Mask

• 1 pair

If you’re looking for a self-care activity on a cold night, might we suggest a self-warming hand mask that locks in your natural body heat in order for its ingredients (which include shea butter to support healthy cell turnover and rosehip oil to help improve skin’s elasticity) to penetrate deeply?

Try:  Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Cica-Repair Hand Mask 

• 1 pair

Give poor chapped hands the love and care they need with what is effectively a moisture bandage. Even just 10 minutes of use offers 48 hours of moisture.

2 of the best nail tools

Nail tools are one of the things that will separate your at-home manicure from the act of simply painting your own nails.

Try: Tweezerman Nail Clippers Set 

If you break a nail we suggest giving them all a trim to stop the same fate happening to the rest. And these clippers will do the job with precision!

Try: Tweezerman Mini Cuticle Nipper

So long as you don’t use it on acrylic nails or live skin, this is a great addition to any respectable at-home manicure kit. Dead cuticles be gone!

4 of the best products for your cuticles

From simple cuticle sticks to rich cuticle oils and creams, use these products to give your cuticles the care they need and make your home manicure really shine.

Try: Boots 8-in-1 Recovery Oil

• Size: 8ml

Use this every day for a month and get stronger, shinier nails and softened cuticles in return – all thanks to a nourishing blend of almond oil and vitamin E.

Try: Boots Cuticle Sticks 

You can’t push back the years, but you CAN push back your cuticles – and that’s one of the most important things you can do to make your nails look professionally tidy!

Try: OPI Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil To Go

• Size: 7.5ml

Want considerably softer cuticles? This go-anywhere oil is the fast-absorbing formula your cuticles need for some well-deserved TLC – you can also use it anywhere that you require extra moisture.

Try: Clinique Deep Comfort Hand and Cuticle Cream

• Size: 75ml

This rich cream helps improve the skin’s moisture barrier to give you wonderfully soft hands and cuticles all day long.

3 of the best base coats

We are all about that base. It’s a sure way to make the most of your chosen nail colour and avoid stains to your nails themselves!

Try: Sally Hansen Double Duty Nail Strengthening Base & Top Coat 

• Size: 13.3ml

This is a top coat as well as a base coat, which is useful if you’d rather not have to purchase multiple products. As a base coat, it contains panthenol to hydrate your nails, while as a top coat it contains nylon to help protect them.

Try: Sally Hansen good.kind.pure Nail Polish Base Top Coat 

• Size: 10ml

• Vegan*

Vegans rejoice! This can either be used alone to strengthen nails and prepare them for polish or as a top coat to help colour adhere to the nails – or both.

Try: Maybelline Superstay Strength Primer Protecting Base Coat 

• Size: 10ml

Brittle nails? Give them a nourishing boost with this protective base coat.

2 of the best top coats

Try: Dior Top Coat Abricot Sets & Speed-dries Nail Enamel 

• Size: 10ml

One sweep of this top coat and your freshly painted nails will look considerably shinier and last considerably longer.

Try: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish Top Coat 

• Size: 14.7ml

A top coat that offers up to 14 days of shine and colour that sticks around? Sign us up!

1 of the best nail colours for a natural look

Sometimes all you want is for your nails to look as natural as possible, but better. And that’s exactly where natural nail polish comes in!

Try: DIOR Diorlisse Abricot Smoothing Perfecting Nail Care in Pink Petal 

• Size: 10ml

Fill in any ridges and strengthen your nails while leaving them with a lovely natural-looking rose hue.

2 of the best nail colours for a bold look

Some people would argue that there’s no point in painting your nails if it’s not going to look obvious, and that’s where bold nail polishes come in.

Try: OPI Nail Polish – Cajun Shrimp – Red 

• Size: 15ml

Cajun shrimp isn’t just delicious to eat, it’s also an excellent nail colour if you favour a bold look.

Try: OPI Nail Polish – Shorts Story pink 

• Size: 15ml

This isn’t just a gorgeous pink nail polish, it’s a gorgeous pink nail polish with a special ProWide brush that delivers even application in just one stroke.

2 of the best hand creams for beautiful nails

The finishing touch of any respectable manicure and an on-the-go essential: hand cream.

Try: Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve 

• Size: 75ml

Overworked and overexposed hands will be crying out for a salve like this one. It’s formulated with avocado oil, eucalyptus oil and sesame seed oil to really nourish them. 

Try: Laura Mercier Hand Crème - Almond Coconut

• Size: 50g

Luscious luxury in hand cream form looks – and smells – something like this. With grape and olive oils to soften, and soy proteins rich in amino acids to help repair, we adore it.

*Vegan formulas do not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.