How to Paint Own Your Nails

how to do your own nails

Before we get into today’s post, I need to let you all know that I’ve been working on this one for weeks.  It was a lot of trial and error and shooting and product sourcing.  I had no idea that this would become so relevant to my life and perhaps yours, too.  I’m currently doing my own nails for obvious reasons, and if you are too, I hope that this post can help you!

I absolutely love having manicured nails but actually loathe going to the salon and getting them done.  The cost and time alone give me so much guilt.  Plus, half the time I end up unhappy with the results.  Is anyone else guilty of coming home and filing their nails to the correct shape?  Or cutting their cuticles because so many were missed?  I realize this may make me a little crazy, but I own it.  Doing my own nails is something I’ve always wanted to master.  Alas, I am not master of this skill.  In fact, my own manicures have often appeared to be done by my toddler herself.  But after much practice and a whole lot of trial and error, I think I’ve gotten it down.  I can give myself a solid manicure that will last me almost a full week or more!

Trust me, if you struggle at polishing your own nails as much as I do, then you get why this feels like such an accomplishment!  I get a lot of my tips from watching YouTube videos, particularly Olive and June’s.  I’m really into their products as well and have been mainly using those lately.  Everything is light pink (so girly!) and so user friendly!  I’m going to link my other go-to’s in the supplies section in case you prefer to grab yours from Amazon, Target or Ulta.

Supplies Used


How to Paint Your Nails at Home

step one


Shape your nails first with a clipper.  I prefer to do this with polish on so that I get a better idea of what my nails will look like.  There is such a difference between what nails look like with and without polish.  To cut, I do each side first then even out in the middle.

step twotwo

Finish your shaping with a medium grit nail file.  When it comes to filing, try not to go back and forth as this can split your nails!  It’s easy to get overly aggressive (at least for me) with the file, so make sure to stop every few sweeps and compare with the rest of your nails.  I prefer a square shape or square with round, both of which are generally the easiest to file yourself.

step three


Remove your polish, let dry and buff.  Buff the edges to make them smooth and even.  Then, butt your entire nail to give the polish a surface to which it can adhere.  This is an easy step to skip, but it makes such a difference in polish application.  There are less bubbles and the polish adheres much better to the nail.

step four


After this, give them one more quick once over with polish remover to ensure an oil-free, clean surface.  This is majorly important for having the cleanest surface possible to work with.  Disregard the picture with polish here please.  I thought that I took one on my second remover go around and totally forgot!  At this point, your nails would be bare before using remover.

step five


If you’re using base coat, apply one thin layer.  This is the only one I use because it is fantastic.  In this tutorial I’m not using a base coat as these polishes do not need one.  Check your polish before hand because many of the longer lasting ones do not require a base.  Apply your polish in thin layers.  I like to do three thin layers to give even coverage and make them look more polished.  Because I often use light and chalky colors, this helps make them more opaque and gives even coverage.  Make sure you tip your nail – this means run the brush across the top of your nail.  I do this with my first coat so that others can hide the line.  Also, allow for drying time between coats.  The more of this, the better!

step six


Apply your top coat.  Let your nails have a minute or so of drying time before application.  Don’t get crazy with a heavy hand here to allow your nails to breathe and dry.  Be careful not to go over onto your cuticle and use even, thin strokes.

step seven


Use a narrow brush dipped in remover to clean up any mistakes around your nail bed.  I like to use an inexpensive eye liner brush for this.  There are pre-made tools with remover built in that do the same thing.  However, these can be oddly hard to find.  So a cotton swab, cuticle stick or eyeliner brush gets the job done, too!

step eight


About three minutes after applying, generously douse the base and sides of your nail beds with cuticle oil.  This helps to seal the polish and always makes my application dry more evenly.  Cuticle oil is your best friend in terms of finishing your manicure and making it last.  Invest in a good one and use it daily.  Never finish a manicure without this step!


How To Maintain

  • Moisturize!  Moisture is key for keeping your polish on and making it last.  Use hand lotion day and night.  Throw one in your handbag and apply it throughout the day.  Just keeps those mitts moisturized!
  • Apply cuticle oil daily.  This makes more of a difference than anything in maintaining a manicure.  Get whatever brand or type your prefer and douse your cuticles in this nightly.  I like to do it in the evening and follow it up with more hand lotion.
  • Wash your hands.  I’m saying, avoid hand sanitizer, when you have the option.  Now, I know this is hard to do, especially with kids and germs and life.  Wash your hands with soap and water when you have the option.  Make hand sanitizer the last resort.  The alcohol in the sanitizer will break down your polish and chip your manicure quickly.

I’m not saying I won’t be popping into the salon for gel or dip, but when I’m short on time or want to save money, then this is my go-to!  P.S. we also filmed a full tutorial on this that I hope to upload here and on YouTube asap!

What are your go-to tips and tricks for an at-home manicure? Spill the details!


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  1. Kate wrote:

    This is fantastic, seeing how none of us will be going to the nail spa anytime soon. I was just at the cusp of needing (and I mean NEEDING) a pedicure when we started self quarantining so I finally decided to paint my own toe nails which was a challenge, but it felt so nice to do it myself.

    Green Fashionista

    Posted 3.25.20 Reply
    • Lindsay Newton wrote:

      I’m glad I waited to hit publish on this one! It gets easier every time, I promise! I never thought I could paint my own nails and it definitely gets better (but I still wish I could go to the salon!)

      Posted 3.29.20 Reply
  2. Biana wrote:

    How was the staying power of the nail polish? I am really trying to up my nail polish skills!! xo, Biana BlovedBoston

    Posted 3.25.20 Reply
    • Lindsay Newton wrote:

      The nail polish lasted me over a week! It’s comparable to a Vinylux or any other weekly polish. I hope you like it!!

      Posted 3.29.20 Reply
  3. this is such a lovely idea to try at home
    Hope you stay healthy and safe
    style frontier

    Posted 3.26.20 Reply
    • Lindsay Newton wrote:

      Thank you so much! I hope that you are healthy and safe as well! XO

      Posted 3.29.20 Reply
  4. Ah very inspiring and helpful this will be the only choice, thanks for posting 🙂

    Allie of

    Posted 4.1.20 Reply
    • Lindsay Newton wrote:

      I hope it helps! I highly recommend the Olive and June set, it’s so pretty and so functional. Hope you’re safe and healthy!

      Posted 4.2.20 Reply
  5. Rashmi wrote:

    This is fantastic… beautiful nail paint… thanks for sharing dear… stay safe 🙂

    Posted 4.2.20 Reply
    • Lindsay Newton wrote:

      Thank you so much for reading! XO

      Posted 4.2.20 Reply
  6. Mica wrote:

    Good tips! I paint my own nails a lot but I don’t follow all these steps, I think that’s why my polish never stays long, haha!

    Hope that you had a lovely weekend 🙂 We all stayed home and stayed safe, hope you did too.

    Posted 4.5.20 Reply
    • Lindsay Newton wrote:

      The cuticle oil is key! I read an article about that and I swear it makes my manicures at home or from a salon last double the time. Thank you for stopping by!

      Posted 4.7.20 Reply