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Want to do your own nails instead of visiting your manicurist? Here’s a guide to get you started!

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What you need:

Equip yourself with the following tools before you start doing anything!

diy nails tools


  • Nail polish remover and cotton pads
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file and nail buffer
  • Cuticle pusher and nippers
  • Hand exfoliator and moisturiser
  • Base coat
  • Nail polish
  • Topcoat

Step 1: Remove any existing nail polish

When doing so, try to minimise contact between the nail polish remover and other parts of your fingers because these removers have an extremely drying effect (and thus, do not soak your nails in remover!) . Opt for non-acetone removers if you have extremely dry nails; these are less harsh than acetone removers, though they are slightly less effective.

Step 2: Cut and buff your nails

Give your nails a clip if necessary, file them into the shape that you want, then smooth the tops and sides of the nails with a nail buff. Avoid metal nail files, i.e. those that often come in free manicure kits – they are too coarse and may lead to your nails splitting. Also, when buffing, take note not to overdo it else your nail polish will not adhere well. We recommend The Body Shop polishing block: its four sides allows you to file your nails, smooth ridges, buffs, and polishes.

body shop polishing block

Step 3: Soak your nails


Prepare a bowl of warm water with some gentle cleanser and place your hands in them for a few minutes. This softens your cuticles before you push/trim them. This is an optional step; skip it if you haven’t got enough time.

Step 4: Deal with those nail cuticles


Gently push the cuticles using the cuticle pushing tool, but take note not to overdo it as the cuticle protects your nail bed from bacteria and damage.

Step 5: Exfoliate and moisturise

You want to make sure your nails are at their best before applying nail polish. We recommend the Crabtree and Evelyn Gardeners Hand Therapy. Leave it on for a while, then wipe nail polish remover over the nail’s surface to remove any hand cream on the nails – nail polish will not adhere well if there is residual moisturiser on your nails.

crabtree and evelyn gardeners hand therapy

Step 6: Paint your nails!

Always start with a base coat because they adhere to nails better than nail polish and smooth out roughness, giving your nails a nicer texture.

After it completely dries, apply nail polish of your desired colour, using the three-stroke rule, i.e. one stroke in the centre and one down each side, to prevent over-layering nail polish. You may apply a second coat after the first coat has completely dried.

how to paint nails

Lastly, applying a top coat is a must! Top coats seal in the polish to prevent your nails from chipping, so they can last much longer. 

DV Tip: While quick-dry top coats are appealing, they evaporate fast and thus the polish might be left prone to dents and chips. Choose slower-acting top coats for a longer lasting finish. Click here for more nail polish hacks!

Step 7: Moisturise!

End off your DIY manicure by moisturising your nails, cuticles, and hands with hand cream or oil.

You might like to watch this video for a quick overview of the steps (though they do not follow exactly what we’ve outlined above).


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