At-Home Manicure: 101


At-Home Manicure: 101


I have to say, I do love having my nails done at a salon, however, I do NOT love having to schedule an appointment into my already overbooked day. This is why I do my nails at home.

There are certain benefits to having your nails done at a salon vs. at home and there are also benefits and disadvantages to having Gel nails versus a regular manicure, so here is my list of pros and cons, as well as products I use regularly and recommend to EVERYONE!

Gel nails:


  • EXTREMELY fast dry time

  • lasts 2 weeks +

  • looks shiny and fresh until you remove


  • takes forever to remove your Gel polish

  • ruins your nails (scraping top layers of nail before Gel is applied, and removal is done with 100% acetone)

  • sometimes, it peels up at cuticles, or peeling up completely (this is super annoying when your hair gets caught in the peel up when you are washing your hair.)

  • have to keep the same color polish on until removal

Regular Manicure:


  • keeps nails healthy (for the most part)

  • very easy to remove polish

  • does NOT hurt nails

  • can easily change colors as often as you want


  • dry time takes FOREVER

  • usually peels or chips in under 1 week

Because I enjoy changing my nail color often, and I don’t like the Gel removal process, I do prefer doing my nails at home.

The products I HIGHLY recommend are:


Nailtiques Formula 2 Base Coat: This is an amazing base coat for using on its own or under nail polish. I love using this product because it helps keep my nails from peeling, and if you do use Gel nail polish and are looking to stop for awhile, this product truly helps rejuvenate your nails and heal them. I use this under every polish I use, and even if I’m not wearing nail polish, this is ALWAYS on my nails. It actually dries super fast for a regular polish and truly heals your nails. I recommend this to EVERYONE I know! ESPECIALLY if you are coming off of Gel or Acrylic nails.


Essie Gel Topcoat: This product claims to be a “Gel” polish, but without the necessary light curing. It says it must be used with the other Essie Gel Colors, but I have found that this topcoat works AMAZINGLY with any nail polish that you have. I use this topcoat with all of my regular nail polishes and it works SO WELL! It seriously lasts a week or more without chipping! (and I wash my hands and dishes like a crazy person, so this is speaking volumes!)


So this is a recommendation rather than a necessity (the two above are NECESSITIES for doing your manicure at home): Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Color: I highly recommend this nail polish. It lasts for over a week on average, and keeps your nails looking super shiny, as if you had Gel nails from a salon. I know her polishes are a bit pricey, but I think they are worth the money. My favorite colors are: “I’m My Own Hero” a dusty mauve creme, “Message in a Bottle,” a sheer holographic mauve shimmer, “Dirty Little Secret,” a sheer holographic greige shimmer and “Grey Day,” her icy cool grey collab with Jason Wu.


If you’re looking for a fast drying topcoat, I HIGHLY recommend Out the Door Top Coat: I’ve tried other fast drying topcoats, such as Seche Vite and Butter London, which both work very well, but this one is my favorite. I’ve noticed that this particular topcoat seems to set the top layer much faster than the other quick dries do.


If you do have gel nails and you are looking to remove them to start your at-home manicure, I HIGHLY recommend getting a small dremel to scratch up the top of your polish, or else it will take you hours to remove with a nail file and acetone. This is the one I use. First, I scratch up the polish with the dremel, then take cotton rounds and pull them apart to “nail-sized” pieces. I soak the pieces of cotton with 100% acetone remover and wrap my nails with foil. After leaving on for 10-20 minutes, I remove the foil and try to remove the polish with a metal cuticle pusher.

Once the gel is completely removed, I wash my hands, trim my nails, and apply Nailtiques base coat.

I hope these recommendations help you when you are deciding on which nail polishes to use during your home manicure!

If you have any polish recommendations that I need to try, please let me know in the comments below!