It is easy to maintain healthy nails at home and in the process, you will save loads of money. Today we are covering all of the at-home manicure essentials you need to maintain healthy nails at home without needing to visit your manicurist or beauty salon.
Pre-children I worked for years managing an upmarket nail spa so I have seen it all when it comes to nails! There are some really basic things that people often forget or don’t know to do to achieve and maintain healthy nails.
It doesn’t matter if you have never had a manicure in your life and want to do some basic maintenance or if you are unfortunate to have damage done to your nails from artificial nails and are wanting to give your nails a chance to recover. All the basics will be covered today so you can feel confident that you are doing the best for your nails.
At-Home Manicure For Healthy Nails
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Yes, it is fun to have painted and decorated nails but sometimes it is also fabulous to have natural healthy nails! And yes, it is possible to have both!
For those of you who have artificial nails that need removing we have a section on how to best remove your nails. If you already have natural nails, skip this section and go straight to, Natural Manicures At Home.
Removing Artificial Nails
It is important not to force the removal of artificial nails. Picking at your nails will remove them quickly however lots of damage to your natural nail can occur. You will need to find out what product you have on your nails, to begin with, some soak off in acetone others will not.
If they do not soak off then the best approach is to carefully file the product down (do not file your natural nail!!), carefully clip off any lifting using cuticle nippers, gently buff over the nail to smooth. Apply a nail strengthener over the entire nail and use plenty of cuticle oil.
Soak Off Method
If the product can soak off then either wrap each nail in acetone or soak your nails in a small bowl of acetone and gently scrape off with a cuticle pusher.
Wrapping individually is my preferred method as it reduces the quantity of acetone exposed to your skin. To do this you will need cotton pads or gauze squares, aluminum foil, acetone, and a cuticle pusher. The foil needs to be cut into squares larger enough to wrap each nail, doubled over is great so the foil won’t tear easily. Cut the gauze/ cotton pads so they are a little larger than your nail. Put a generous amount of acetone onto a gauze/ cotton pad and place onto your nail, wrap the finger with the foil square. After about 10 minutes check the nail and scrape off the product, replace the gauze/ cotton pad and foil and continue this process until all of the product has come off. You can now purchase soak-off nail caps which simplifies this process.
The time it will take to soak off your nails will vary greatly, from 10min to over an hour depending on the product used and the thickness of the product. Remember not to force the removal as that can increase damage.
After removing your artificial make sure you apply plenty of cuticle oil. Your poor nails have been through a lot so do not miss this step. If you don’t have cuticle oil then apply coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil as anything is better than nothing. Scroll down to find out more about cuticle oil and its benefits.
Manicure At Home
Give yourself an at-home manicure once a week to maintain your nails. This is very simple and quick to do. If you are wanting to paint your nails then a basic manicure will provide you with the perfect base to give you the greatest results when painting your nails.
Clean Your Nail
The first step is to clean your nails. Remove any nail polish with a nail polish remover or give your hands a wash if you don’t have anything on your nails. Using an orange stick or similar carefully clean out any dirt from under your nails. You can also soak your nails at this stage if you are wanting to give yourself a full manicure.
Clip, File, and Shape
For very long nails clip them shorter before filing.
Use a wooden nail file to shape your nails. The higher the grit of the file, the softer the file. Often nail files will come in two grits, one on each side which can be handy to quickly shorten nails and then smooth with just one file. Coarse grits are designed for artificial nails and shouldn’t be used on natural nails as this could cause damage. Some advise that nails should be filed in one direction to avoid damage. Most nails will be fine being filed in both directions but if you already have weak or damaged nails then it is best to be cautious and use a fine grit file and file in one direction only.
The shape of your nails is a personal preference. If you have no nail shape preference have a look of the shape around the cuticle and base your nail shape from this. Many people prefer a hybrid of square and round. No matter what shape you opt to make sure that your nail has been filed evenly. Check from both the front and back of your nails and adjust accordingly. Try to make all of your nails the same length for a tidy look.
Push Back Cuticles
For cuticles that haven’t been pushed back for some time soak to soften them first. A simple way to skip this step is to give yourself a manicure after a shower!
For problem, cuticles consider using a cuticle softener/ remover to help with this step. Otherwise gently push back cuticles using a cuticle pusher. I prefer metal cuticle pushers as they are quick and easy to use. The straight side can be used to gently remove the stubborn overgrown cuticle that has attached to the nail plate. Alternatively, plastic rubber tipped cuticle pushers are a good gentle option.
DO NOT cut your cuticle! You can cut the little hangnails that may appear on the side of your nails and overgrown cuticle on the nail plate but not the cuticle itself. Cut cuticles can lead to the cuticle growing back uneven and thicker. You also run the risk of infection when cutting cuticles.
If your cuticles are particularly difficult then try to gently push your cuticles back each day after showering. Over time they will require less maintenance.
Buffing will smooth your nail plate and help to stimulate healthy growth. When buffing your nails do this in one direction only to avoid over-buffing the nail. If you have naturally thin or damaged nail use caution when buffing nails. The last thing you want is to thin and weaken already weak nails!
There are many different nail buffers available to buy. Have a look at your buffer as most will include numbers on each side so you can easily know what order to buff in. This four-step nail buffer has a side to file, buff, smooth and shine the nail.
Paint & Oil
Your nails are now reading for painting! If you do not want to paint your nails the skip ahead to applying cuticle oil.
To paint always use a base coat. Base coat will help to make the nail polish last longer and protects the natural nail from staining.
After the base coat apply two layers of nail polish. Avoid flooding the cuticle and around the sides of the nail. Use an orange stick to tidy up. Apply a top coat to add shine and to prolong the life of the varnish.
Cuticle oil is beneficial for almost everyone! It softens cuticles and promotes strong flexible nails. Cuticle oil is also beneficial for the skin around the nail.
Often people will use a nail strengthener on their nails, while this can be helpful a cuticle oil will often give better results. Thin peeling nails will almost always improve with the daily use of cuticle oil.
To use, apply a little cuticle oil to each nail and massage. If your nails need some extra love apply cuticle oil each night before bed.
It doesn’t take much to maintain healthy nails at home. File and push back your cuticles weekly. Apply cuticle oil daily and buff every couple of weeks. With regular maintenance, you will have healthy nails to be proud of without the expense of visiting your local manicurist.