How I Do My Nails at Home!

Hi friends! I posted on Instagram stories today about a DIY manicure and got several messages asking about how I do my nails and what products I use.  It's way easier to post it here and then point y'all to the blog... so without further ado, my easy, at-home manicure process. 

I first started doing my nails at home in 2020 when I couldn't go to the salon.  Prior to that, I'd been an every two week gel polish gal... typically with no breaks in between. 

My dear friend Kelley discovered Olive and June and told me about it.  For my birthday that year, my parents gave me a boxed set of all the tools and supplies from O&J - that's when I really started to delve into DIY as a viable option.  

Since then, I have changed polishes but the process is still fairly similar.  I spent a lot of time watching videos, studying what is recommended, and the right steps to do everything.  Here's my exact routine, plus what I use to achieve a 5-7 day manicure with no chips... without a UV light, gel polish, or dip powder. 


Step 1:  Remove polish (if applicable).  I use the Olive and June polish remover pot - it's like those ones from the 90s, but better.  I have very sensitive, dry skin, so not having to touch the polish remover except for with my nails is really a perk!! 

Step 2:  Trim nails and file.  Mostly self explanatory.  I like my nails SHORT.  I clip first with O&J clippers and then file with their file.  I feel like files have come a looong way.  I used to detest nail files (that awful sound!!!) but it really doesn't happen anymore.  I round the corners of my nails but trim them to the correct shape first to avoid weakening the nail by over-filing.

Step 3:  Cuticle Care!!  I recently started using this Sally Hansen cuticle remover.  Just put a little dot on each nail bed, rub it in a teeny bit, then use a cuticle pusher (I use the Olive and June one) to get everything off your nail plate.  Make sure to wash this off well after you are finished!  **I do this every OTHER manicure.  If you don't have much cuticle or have a ton, you may want to adjust frequency!**

Step 4:  Trim cuticles.  I use this cuticle cutter/trimmer.  I've had it since 2020 and it is a prized possession.  Be careful when you're first learning; it is easy to get a little too close to the skin and trust me - if you do that, you'll know it.  

**Getting your nail plate free of skin/cuticle and other debris is paramount to your manicure going on nicely and staying on well.  I can tell a massive difference if I just push back and trim versus removing with the gel first!

CLEAN YOUR NAILS WITH POLISH REMOVER AGAIN!!!  This step is probably the most important of all!  I swipe each one again with remover to get off any lingering cuticle product, dust from filing, etc.  You want your nails completely clean and dry - and the polish remover does just that.  


Step 1:  Base coat!  I use this one from Essie.  It's the only base coat I've ever used, so I can't speak to others!  But, I love it and it works and I've never had to find something else, so take that for what it's worth.  

Step 2:  Color polish x 3.  I do THREE coats of whatever polish I'm using.  Most people do two coats if the color is not super thin or streaky - I always, always do three.  I think it makes a difference!!  I pretty much exclusively use Essie polishes.  I like their original formula and the Gel Couture - I wish GC came in all the color range!  

Step 3:  Clear coat x 2.  I do TWO coats of top coat... and I exclusively use this top coat.  I think it is the secret sauce to the whole thing.  It's called "Gel Effect" and it really does do it's job!!  I used to do one coat only and my mani would last 3-4 days.  With 2 coats, I get 5-7 days chip-free.  

Step 4:  I let the polish dry on its own for about 5 minutes and then apply one drop of the Olive and June quick-dry drops.  This stuff is MAGIC.  The friend I mentioned earlier takes hers to the salon!!!  One drop per nail.  I still highly recommend being careful for at least 30 minutes for a full and complete dry, but it significantly speeds up the process.  

Step 5:  Clean up!  Dip a nail art brush in your polish remover and clean up around the edges as necessary.  My left hand usually looks pretty good and doesn't need much clean up, but the right one always needs a few touch ups (I'm right handed). I really think this step is what makes your mani look less "done at home" and more "just left the salon."  That double top coat makes it really look and feel like gel, too!!  


Keep your skin and nails hydrated with cuticle oil and lotion.  I'll admit, I am not as good about cuticle care as I should be.  I have this stick in my kitchen and this roller in my car so I try to apply often, but definitely could be better.  Keeping your nails hydrated after you polish will keep them healthy and help the polish stick longer! 

All the products and gimmicks and different trends can be really overwhelming when it comes to nail polishes and manicures, so I hope this straightforward routine is helpful!  If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message on Instagram!  Happy painting!  


  • Meshia

    Thank you for sharing your nail care routine.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks sweet girl! Helpful advice!!

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