Every lady loves a pampering session at a nail salon to get that perfect manicure. Well, what if you could do that in the comfort of your own home while saving money and comfortably clothed in your pajamas? Well, you can! Here’s the method I use as well as some troubleshooting tips to rectify or prevent bubbles and thick goopy polish.

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1. Acetone as your polish remover. Nail polish remover generally works, but if you have a highly pigmented color or glitter polish, regular nail polish remover just doesn’t do the trick.

2. Cotton pads, cotton balls, or paper towels to remove polish.

Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and Cuticle Pusher. Available at CVS or any drugstore.
Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and Cuticle Pusher. Available at CVS or any drugstore.

3. Cuticle Remover. I use the Sally Hansen “Instant Cuticle Remover.” It is designed to eat away the dead portions of the cuticle. I’ve tried many cuticle removers, and this is, by far, the best one I’ve found.

4. Cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles.

5. Small nail trimmer to cut away dead skin around the nail bed and to snip away cuticles.

6. Cuticle Oil to moisturize your cuticles and to put over your top coat for a quick dry at the end. I use the Beauty Secrets one, available at Sally Beauty Supply.

7. Nail file. I like these multiple-sided ones. They work really well for me, but use whatever you normally use or whatever you have on hand.

8. Base Coat. I use Seche Clear “Crystal Clear Base Coat.” I’ve only experimented with a few base (and top) coats, but this one is really great and cheap.

9. Polish of your choice.

10. Top Coat. I use Seche Vite “Dry Fast Top Coat.”

Synthetic Brush for Clean Up
Synthetic Brush for Clean Up

11. A synthetic fiber brush or q-tip for clean up. I use an old Sephora concealer brush for my post mani clean up. It has a tapered end which makes getting around the cuticles and into the small spots really easy.


First, remove any existing polish from your nails. Next, cut, file, and shape your nails into your desired shape.

Next, place a small amount of the cuticle remover on and around each cuticle. Most cuticle removers require you to wait anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes before working on your cuticles. Wait the appropriate time for whatever product you are using, then go in with your cuticle pusher and GENTLY push back your cuticles.

Then, go wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water. I like to save a special lavender soap for this part because it makes me feel all “spa-like.”


Fifth, use the trimmer to remove any dead skin, hangnails, and excess cuticles. Add cuticle oil to the cuticle and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Using your synthetic brush, dip it into the acetone and “paint” the nail with the acetone to remove oils and films from your nails. This is an important step because the residue from oils and/or moisturizers can cause bubbles in your mani at the end.

Now, before we move onto the actual painting of the nail, I’m going to let you in on a few ways to prevent manicure problems. Nail polishes contain solvents. These solvents mix the polish ingredients so that you have a uniform product. They evaporate into the air from top layer to bottom layer. If you paint on thick layers of polish, the top dries first creating a film over the nail refusing to allow the bottom layer solvents to esacape. This is how you get bubbles! So, thin coats are key! Heat is also a culprit of bubbles as it will cause your polish to thicken. Store your polish in a cool dry area. If you’ve kept a polish too long, volatile solvent evaporation will cause it to become thick and goopy. Basically, this means that the solvents evaporate while you are storing the polish, so make sure those caps are on tightly! If you find yourself with thick goopy polish, here are a few tips. Thick polish creates thick coats, which means, yep, you guessed it: Bubbles! To thin out your polish, use ONLY a nail polish paint thinner (available at a local beauty supply store or online) because it restores the evaporated solvents. NEVER use nail polish remover to thin out thick polish because remover breaks down the polish.

Another way to prevent bubbles is by rolling your polish between your hands instead of shaking it. Shaking it up will allow air particles into the polish. No bueno!

If yellowing nails is your concern, soak your nails in lemon juice for about 10 minutes or in a mixture of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and baking soda.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming!

Seche Clear Base Coat. Available at CVS or local drugstores.
Seche Clear Base Coat. Available at CVS or local drugstores.

Start with painting your nail in ONE thin layer of base coat. Allow that to dry. The base coat is usually dry by the time you’ve finished all 10 nails.

Next, apply the polish of your choice in thin coats. The first coat should focus on getting a precise shape around the cuticle and the nail bed, whereas the second coat is for color payoff. Paint from the base of the nail bed downwards in the middle with one stroke. Next, pushing the polish at the base, follow the natural curve of the nail on each side of the first single stroke. Allow your first coat to dry for about a minute before you start on the second coat.

Apply your second coat in the same manner you applied the first coat. Allow to dry for a couple of minutes.

Then, apply your top coat. If you’ve accidentally made smudges or messed up at this point, your top coat should even everything out. Allow the top coat to dry for a minute or two.

Beauty Secrets Cuticle Oil. Available at Sally Beauty Supply.
Beauty Secrets Cuticle Oil. Available at Sally Beauty Supply.

Now, apply a single thin coat of the cuticle oil on top of the top coat. Allow your nails to fully dry. This waiting process usually only takes about 5-10 minutes.

Finally, go back with the synthetic brush dipped in acetone to clean up your mistakes. Be patient and be precise here. If you go slow and take your time, you will end up with one hell of a manicure. People will be asking you which nail salon you use because your nails will look super fabulous!!

Yesterday's At Home Mani using Covergirl's new Hunger Games Color Collection.
Yesterday’s At Home Mani using Covergirl’s new Hunger Games Color Collection.

I hope this process works as well for you as it does for me! Please tell me your favorite manicure tips and products in the comments! I am always looking for new products, colors, and tips to try out!

Stay Glittery!



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