Beautifully manicured nails are the perfect accessory for any well put together outfit. They draw attention to the hands and can instantly add elegance to your overall look. Nail salons make millions of dollars every year providing manicure services to busy moms, career women, special event attendees, and college students who want shimmery beautiful hands. Going to the nail salon is expensive and time-consuming, and often requires follow up visits every week or two to repair broken nails and freshen up the polish. If you want to achieve salon-quality nails without all of the fuss, read on and follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Proper Nail Clipping Techniques

Proper nail clipping and shaping starts with getting yourself a good set of nail clippers. Find a set of high-quality clippers from your favorite beauty supply store. They come in all shapes and sizes, so seek out a pair that feels comfortable to use. Clip your nails down to the desired length and mimic the curves and shapes of your cuticle for the best results. To avoid cracking your nails, or if you have thick nails that are hard to clip, trim them down after you get out of the shower when your nails are softer.

Step 2: File Your Nails

Just like sandpaper that you purchase from a hardware store, nail files come in a variety of different grits. For thinner nails, find a finer grit nail file. For thicker nails, you will need a rougher nail file surface. Gently file around the edges of your nails until you have sculpted the desired shape you are after and the tips are smooth. Once you are finished, rinse your hands to get rid of any nail dust that remains.

Step 3: Buffing the Surface

Buffing is a two-step process that provides a clean and smooth surface for later applying nail polish. Find a nail buffer stick with multiple different buffing surfaces. First, rough up the surface of each nail and work out ridges and ripples. After that, you can smooth out the surface of each nail with the polishing end of the stick; the result is healthy and smooth looking nails. 

Step 4: Apply a Basecoat 

A basecoat is simply a primer that makes nail polish stay on your nails longer. You can find basecoats in shiny or matte finishes and even nail strengthening formulas. A basecoat will thicken up your nails and prevent staining from dark and rich nail polish colors. Apply a layer of basecoat to your nails and wait for it to dry.

Step 5: Polish Your Nails

To achieve salon-quality nails and avoid having to brush on several coats for an even coverage, purchase professional grade nail polish like Opi or Essie. Brush on your desired color and be sure to only have as much polish on the brush as is needed to coat the nail surface. Too much nail polish on the brush will lead to the polish bleeding into your cubicle beds and pools that take longer to dry. This is also the step where you can adhere funky nail art and decals to your nails if you want a more artsy look. Let your nails dry completely for about 10 minutes.

Step 6: Cleaning the Edges

Even the most seasoned manicurist can make a mistake during the process of applying nail polish, so have no fear. If you accidentally get nail polish on your cuticles or other parts of your finger, moisten the end of a Q-Tip with some nail polish remover and complete a targeted cleaning, paying close attention not to touch your polished nail.

Step 7: Apply a Topcoat

Topcoat is clear nail polish that seals the colored polish and embellishments you put on your nails. It protects your nails from premature polish chipping and adds thickness to your nails. Look for a shiny topcoat that will glisten and make your nails sparkle in the sunlight. Apply a thin coat of topcoat and let your nails dry for approximately 10 minutes. Use this easy step-by-step guide for pampering yourself to a fresh new manicure the DIY way. Whether you are looking for a fun activity to do during ladies night, are too busy to head to the nail salon, or are on a tight budget, you can achieve a professional manicure using high-quality products in your own home.

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