How to do a manicure at home - and the best nail varnish colours to try

Missing the nail salon? Annabel Jones has your complete guide to at-home nails

How to do a manicure at home best nail varnish
Missing your regular manicure? Don't fret, you can do it all from home Credit: getty

Life before Covid-19 was full of indulgences that have sadly (but importantly) gone by the wayside. Perhaps you are a nail buff who had a weekly standing appointment at your local salon for nail art, gel or acrylic. Or, maybe you dropped in occasionally, whenever you had an important meeting, a holiday abroad or a fancy event to attend to.

Whatever level of nail care you previously enjoyed, it’s time to learn how to do your nails at home, as nail salons are unlikely to reopen their doors any time soon (sigh). From tidying up cuticles, to filing, nourishing and painting, we’ve put together this easy to follow step-by-step-guide to the perfect at-home manicure. Including our 5 perkiest nail colours which are sure to lift spirits. 

How to do a manicure at home

  1. Remove: Soak hands in a bowl of warm water with a little facial cleanser, dry off, apply a cuticle removing product and leave on for five minutes. Push cuticles back with a metal cuticle pusher. Use Tweezerman Dual Sided Pushy Cuticle Stick, £16 to remove built up skin on the nail bed as this creates a smooth canvas to work on. Wash hands. 
  2. Prep: File nails gently with a nail file in one direction, try Margaret Dabbs Mini Crystal Nail File, £9. Use a sanding block, like the Cuccio Nail Sanding Block (120/200 Grit), £1.50,  to gently smooth the nail bed if necessary. Apply a base coat in one thin coat to avoid nail polish staining your nails and to make it last longer.
  3. Paint: Starting in the middle of the nail bed, paint nails in a thin coat, removing excess from the brush before applying. Start in the middle and work outwards to avoid flooding the cuticle. Repeat on the other hand, wait until dry, then do a second coat. Remove mistakes with an angled make-up brush dipped in nail polish remover. 
  4. Gloss: Apply one layer of topcoat, gel if possible. We love Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, £11.95.
  5. Nourish: Once dry, apply a cuticle oil such as CND’s Solar Oil £12.95, or natural jojoba oil (it's easily absorbed by our skin), and massage in. Apply a nourishing hand cream. Tip: apply every time you wash your hands as the constant cleansing will lead to stripping of the skin’s protective barrier, making it harder to retain moisture.
  6. Treat: Before bed, apply your facial serum (retinol is good for wrinkles, Vitamin C for pigmentation) to the backs of hands. After it’s been absorbed properly, apply your night cream or a moisturising face mask. If you’re super dedicated, apply cotton gloves overnight to keep moisture in. 

Read more: How to do a pedicure at home

5 best nail varnish colours 

OPI Infinite Shine Neo Pearl Collection in Glisten Carefully! £15.50

OPI Infinite Shine Neo Pearl Collection in Glisten Carefully! £15.50

Chanel Le Vernis in 590 Verde Pastello, £22 

Chanel Le Vernis in 590 Verde Pastello, £22 

Boots No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour in So Simple, £6

Boots No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour in So Simple, £6

Essie Nail Polish in 374 Salt Water Happy  £7.99

Essie Nail Polish in 374 Salt Water Happy  £7.99

Dior Vernis Cool Wave Nail Lacquer, in 431 Pow, £19.80

Dior Vernis Cool Wave Nail Lacquer, in 431 Pow, £19.80

Read more: The best gel nail kits for at home

Sign up for Stella Daily - your seven-day slice of fashion, beauty, food, travel, interiors and more from the Stella magazine team