Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Pull Off a Professional Manicure At Home Part 1: Purchasing the Products

Inspired by a friend's fetish for nail polish but when you arrived to the store, you are completely overwhelmed with the hundreds of colors and products? Well here are some basic products needed for a do-it-yourself (DIY) manicure.

Orangewood Stick/Manicure Wood Stick
This multi-tasking tool is a manicure must-have. Commonly used for pushing back cuticles, I also use this baby to tidy up the polish around my nails. For stubborn messes, wrap a bit of cotton around the end or dip the stick into polish remover.  You can pick this tool up anywhere (ie local drugstore or beauty supply, Ulta etc.)

Crystal Nail File
This tool is the essential for manicuring natural nails. A crystal nail file has a long-lasting abrasive surface and does not split and damage nails like the regular nail file tends to do. Although delicate (you do not want to drop this tool), the crystal nail file can be washed, sanitized or sterilized for repeated use.  I use Essie's Crystal Nail File but you can pick up anyone at your nearest drugstore or specialized store like Sephora or Ulta.

Nail Polish Remover
Not all polish removers are created equal.  The key is to pick a remover that won't zap all the moisture out of your skin and nails.  My "go-to" is Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Nail Polish Remover. I also love Zoya Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover.  You can pick up Essie's Polish Remover at your nearest Ulta. 

Base Coat Polish
The base coat is pretty important. It protects your nail from staining and also provides a clean palette for the color nail polish to adhere. I have tried many base coat polishes but my "tried and true" base coat is OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener. OPI Nail Envy comes in six formulas to meet different nail needs. I use the Nail Envy "Original" formula (the green one to the left.) There are also some base coat products that guarantee a longer wear than a regular nail hardener but I haven't found that claim to be true yet.

Color Enamel
When it comes to color selection, let loose! The old days of limiting bright colors to pedicures are dead and gone.  A beautiful color on my nails really makes my day. If this your first time painting your nails, go with your favorite color and then ease to the more adventurous colors like green and yellow later. Remember every color IS for everybody. Different shades of color makes the difference. If a bright yellow doesn't work for your complexion, that does not mean you should swear off all yellows. Try a different shade of yellow.  Don't know what's your favorite color? Look in your closet or makeup bag and see what color family you are drawn to or look at a color guide like a color wheel (see pic below.) One of my favorite colors is pink so I lived in pink polish when I first started polishing my nails. 

Top Coat Polish
A top coat is a necessity. The top coat polish protects the nail enamel from wear & tear and offers a glossy, shiny finish. I alternate between two top coat polishes, Quick and Slick by Prolana and Seche Vite. Both offers awesome protection and a "dripping wet" glossy finish.

Cuticle Oil
I use cuticle oil immediately after my manicure is done.  I also use cuticle oil every night to maintain healthy nails:-) It is very necessary. I usually alternate between OPI Avoplex and Creative Nail Design Solar Oil.

These are the basic products needed  to get started on your DIY-mani. Part 2 - How to Give Yourself a Professional Mani post is coming soon! I hope this helps my nail polish newbies. I will keep you informed as I come across new, awesome products to add to this list.  Feel free to ask any questions:-)


  1. AAaahh Im taking a trip to Ulta tonight..cant wait to start my "collection"...hopefully in part 2 you'll tell me how to quickly dry my pretty mani...I swear I always end up with a smudge or 5 ;-)

  2. Hey! I would suggest applying thin but even coats to help the polish dry faster. I usually have to apply at least 3 coats compare to the recommended 2 coats but I rarely get smudges on my mani:-) Hope this tip helps.