7 Steps to a DIY Manicure & Pedicure at Home

What is it about a professional manicure and pedicure that makes it a powerfully therapeutic experience? I swear that I can walk into a nail salon and an hour later, walk out a brand new woman. But there’s not always the time or funds to have regularly spoiled tips and toes. You can definitely get a brilliant manicure and pedicure doing it yourself if you have the right tools lined up. Here’s how!

But wait! Let’s gather the essentials first. You’ll need:

  • non-acetone nail polish remover and cotton balls
  • nail file
  • buffing block
  • sugar scrub to exfoliate
  • orangewood stick
  • cuticle oil
  • moisturizer
  • nail polish (base coat, color, and top coat)


1.  Start with a clean canvas.


Before you start, make sure your finger and toe nails are polish free using a non-acetone remover (acetone can be very harsh and stripping!). We love Formula X because it not only removes polish in a snap, but it has a great spill-proof container Next, use clippers and/or a file to gently shape your nails to your desired length and shape. We prefer to use a crystal nail file since it will shape even the most delicate nails and prevent splitting, unlike damaging emery boards. Next, smooth the surface of your nails with a buffing block (this will also remove ugly yellow stains we all get from wearing too much dark polish!). The Sephora 4-Step Nail Buffer is a great bang for your buck since it has four sides with varying textures. Follow up with the smooth buffing side for a high shine!


2.  Soak and Scrub


Soak hands for two to three minutes, and feet for five minutes. Now, time to exfoliate! We love Sephora’s Smoothing Body Scrub, but for an easy at-home fix, just mix one tablespoon of sugar with one tablespoon of baby oil gel and gently scrub away the dead, dry cells. It smells fantastic and leaves your skin feeling like silk. Rinse and pat dry.


3.  Care for your cuticles.


Soften your cuticles by rubbing a bit of oil on them. We are loving Sally Hansen’s Vitamin E Cuticle & Nail Oil. By now, your cuticles should be nice and soft, so go ahead and push them back with an orangewood stick to get a really nice shape. You can also use this tool to clean and dirt from under the nail. Now the fun part… massage! Grab a vitamin-rich moisturizer, like EOS Hand Cream (One of our favorites, and it’s only $1.99), and slather it on. Don’t forget your heels and cuticles! Before moving on to step four, swipe the nail beds with non-acetone polish remover to remove any oil and moisturizer. The key to long lasting polish is super clean nails!


4.  Don’t skip the oh-so-important base coat.


Apply a base coat to smooth any ridges and create an even surface for your color. One thin coat will do it!


5.  Polish away.


Paint on two thin layers of polish, allowing your color to dry completely between each coat. To do it like the professionals (that’s the whole point, right?), swipe polish down the center of the nail first, then on each side. The key is to make the layers of polish as thin as possible, which will aid in longevity and help the polish dry more quickly.


6.  Shine on.


Applying a top coat does more than add shine. It also smooths away any flubs and flaws, which is often a total lifesaver. Just one coat is all you will need. To quickly refresh your mani/pedi throughout the week, add another layer of top coat. It makes a huge difference, trust me! Our pick is Essie All In One 3 Way Glaze, which is a base coat, top coat, and strengthener all in one bottle.


7.  Relax and don’t. touch. anything.


Now, just chill and resist the urge to do anything except lay on the couch and watch Real Housewives. You deserve it (and your freshly painted nails do too). For a picture-perfect finish, add a few drops of Essie Quick-E Drying Drops onto the nails. Although this is completely optional, it will definitely speed up the drying process a whole lot more. And if you’re not a fan of Housewives, you’re definitely going to need them.


  • Even though I love a professional manicure & pedicure, mainly for financial purposes & because I change the color of my nails more than once during the week to match my outfits I usually have a home manicure & pedicure… Reading the above article I am glad to know I am doing all the right things & by now I am owning all the essential tools after following carefully the whole procedure in my local nail salon… It is a really helpful article for the Everygirl who wishes to start giving herself a home manicure & pedicure…

    Have a great week!!!

    xoxo Violeta, your Shoegal Out In The World


  • I have been skipping the exfoliating step, but I think I’ll take the time to soak and exfoliate (especially after this brutal winter). My hands and feet could definitely benefit from extra TLC.
    Paytington & Co.

  • Thanks for this post!
    I am doing all the right steps and my manicure lasts for 3 days.
    I think this is okay, although I sometimes want my manicure to last longer because I don’t have much time in the evening…and the drying time is always toooo long ;))

  • Angel

    Thanks for the step by step 🙂 I feel confident I can do this now.

  • queenmeow

    I’ve been meaning to try the gelous and seche vite combo. It’s supposed to be a DIY alternative to gel polish.

  • O2 Spa

    Really helpful article in getting those manis and pedis right. Thanks so much.


  • Rachael Louise Ball

    i have extremely dry hands (i work in a hospital so am constantly washing them, and also own a horse so my hands are out in harsh weather). i have tried a few moisturisers but within an hour or so they are back to being dry and constantly cracking. is there anything anyone can recommend to help get the dry dead skin off and then a moisturise that is is long lasting? i also have very peel skin around my nails which is very sore, has anyone got any tips to help with that too? thanks xx

    • sawan

      Hiii Dear
      my hand & foot skin is very dry and looking so very bad. I am always worried about this. I concerned doctor about this and he gave me treatment but I haven’t find any results. So what I do ?

      please give me any solutions for this problem.

  • Love the baby oil and sugar suggestion, so I dont have to keep buying the fancy stuff all the time in a jar lol. thank you for the breakdown of the essentials. The drying part is where issues arise for me; however, now I create manicures and pedicures at home with my Jamberry which last two weeks. If you have never tried Jamberry, I’d love to send you free sample. Please request your sample glam JamMAzing here:http://goo.gl/forms/oCKeoLhwAl

  • Stella in Greece

    Thank you so much for the tips! I always was a not-so-girly-girl but I love some pampering now and then, so.. this article is an excellent helper for mani-pedi 101 students like me! Thank you!

  • Great tips! I haven’t been exfoliating my hands lately because I get eczema. I may try your sugar and baby oil suggestion, though. Thank you!

  • Great info thanks for sharing such.