Your guide to nailing the at-home manicure

Joanna Taylor
·3-min read
<p>Nailed it! </p> (UNSPLASH)

Nailed it!


Unless you’re a manicure maestro, your nails probably won’t have seen a professional glow-up in months, which is all too evident when we spend much of our time tapping away at keys and screens.

But, fear not, because if you’re in the mood for a little ‘me time’ the industry’s top experts say it’s not too difficult to achieve salon-worthy hands at home.


Firstly, remove any leftover colour with a nail polish remover such as the Margaret Dabbs Nail Polish Remover Pot, £12, or the Mini Macaron Gel Polish Mini Removal Kit, £4.40, if wearing gel colour.

Then, file using a crystal nail file such as the Leighton Denny Small Crystal Nail File, £12.50, which will limit the risk of split nails, and buff nails smooth using a multi-purpose block such as the Body Shop Nail Polishing Block, £4. It’s important to do this while the hands are dry, says manicurist Leighton Denny MBE, because “when wet, nails are more vulnerable to damage, as the water works to separate the layers of the nail plate and can cause peeling.”

Margaret Dabbs Nail Polish Remover Pot, £12Margaret Dabbs
Margaret Dabbs Nail Polish Remover Pot, £12Margaret Dabbs


Next, use a hand exfoliant such as the Byredo Suede Hand Scrub, £44, “to remove the product build up from sanitisers and hand creams, as well as removing that top layer of dead, dry skin so your moisturiser can be better absorbed.” says Denny. Once scrubbed, washed and patted dry, moisturise hands using a nourishing cream such as the Beauty Pie Plantastic Nourishing Shea Butter Hand Cream, £6.67, or if you have the spare time, the Seoulista Rosy Hands Instant Manicure gloves, £7.99.

It’s important not to skip this step as “the skin on the back of our hands is much thinner than that of our face, which makes it more susceptible to premature ageing.” says nail expert and Mavala brand ambassador Lynn Gray.

Beauty Pie Plantastic Nourishing Shea Butter Hand Cream, £6.67Beauty Pie
Beauty Pie Plantastic Nourishing Shea Butter Hand Cream, £6.67Beauty Pie


When it comes to tackling cuticles, “There is often a misconception that they need to be cut, however the part of the nail people actually cut is not the true cuticle but the eponychium or proximal fold.” says Gray. This part should never be removed as this can lead to infections, Gray continues.

“The true cuticle that does need to be removed is the small, scaly area of dead skin cells that are stuck to the nail plate.” Gray recommends using a cuticle remover such as the Mavala Cuticle Remover, £12.50, and an orange stick wrapped in cotton wool to gently clean away debris. “Carefully snip hangnails away with cuticle nippers”, says Gray.

Mavala Cuticle Remover, £12.50Mavala
Mavala Cuticle Remover, £12.50Mavala


To achieve an optimum paint-finish, Juanita Huber-Millet, founder of Townhouse salon, says to “dampen a cotton pad with water and wipe off any dust particles from the nail bed.” Select hard-wearing, nourishing paint formulas such as the Nailberry Bare Essentials 2-1 Base and Top Coat, £17.50, the Nails Inc Plant Power Polish, £9, and “try to paint each nail in no more than three strokes to avoid streaking.” says Huber-Millet. Follow with a cuticle hydrator such as the OPI Pro Spa Nail And Cuticle Oil, £9, and you’re good to go.

Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Free Time Is Me Time, £9Nails Inc.
Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Free Time Is Me Time, £9Nails Inc.