Thursday, January 7, 2021

This post was a reader request – Hi Gaby! Plus, I thought maybe this would appeal to others, as well. In my pre-pandemic life, I loved getting shellac and dipped nails but at the same time I thought about all the time and money I put into the maintenance, you know? Also, a little factoid about me: I got really tired of the color after about a week. You, too may have given up the nail salon right now in favor of going bare of DIY.

I am not really an expert, but I have polished my nails all of my life practically. I just like the look. Plus, I am not very crafty so this is kind of my little art project. Mom and Kate, does it count? My mom is a retired art teacher and my sister is a current art teacher. I did not get the artsy crafty gene.

Find a time to do this. You will need about 45 minutes minimum to be still and not use your hands. Or, you can divide it up in 4 steps with maybe 15 minutes of time blocks, but you deserve the self-care, you know?

I recently discovered that sitting at my virtual teaching desk while waiting to tutor students works well. But, normally I do this in the evening while I am watching a deliciously shallow show like one of the Bravo Housewives franchises.

Take care of your trimming and filing a different day if you can. I do not really have cuticle issues, but you may also need to do that. If you can do it a different day, take care of that and wash your hands really well.

By the way, this also gave me the push to do one of my 30 Bags in 30 Days areas that I talked about here.

Look how out of hand my polish collection was:

I am happy to say I got it down to a more manageable size that all fits in my caddy.

As you can see above, my favorite brand is OPI, but Essie has some really cool colors in my opinion. How many times in your life have you finished a bottle of polish? I have actually used entire bottles of OPI colors so that tells me that quality saves me money in the long run. If I buy a cheapie for $4 I may only use it twice, but my OPI that costs $8=9 gets used up. Here is Alpine Snow on Amazon, which is a favorite of mine.

Let us compare the brushes, though. I hate Essie brushes. I love OPI brushes and think that helps me get a better manicure. If you have small nails you may prefer Essie. You may have to experiment. And, if you can get a cheaper brand to work for you that is great. I find that the consistency is not as smooth, the colors are not as saturated, and they just don’t give me the salon-ish quality I am after.

I got a wild hair and thought – what if I use an OPI brush from a top coat I am not using with my Essie…. it fits! This is my new plan! I did wipe the brush clean with remover before putting it in the Essie bottle. REVOLUTIONARY!!!!!!!

Many of the things I have learned from the nail professionals. If your polish is a bit gummy or old, put a drop or two of remover in the bottle. Then, shake and roll, shake and roll. Have you ever watched how many times the nail techs do this? It is very important.

Now it is time to begin. Take a paper towel and swipe all nails with a bit of remover even though you think they are clean.

Now, do your base coat and I cannot stress this enough. Do a very light coat. Light coats will be the name of the game throughout our process. Let it dry. This will dry very quickly.

And, here is our process before we get to the photos:

  1. Light base coat.
  2. Light first layer of color – does not need to be perfect edge to edge this time.
  3. Light second layer of color – does need to be perfect this time. Take your time.
  4. Light top coat.

You will need at least 10-15 minutes between each of the steps.

This is my favorite base of all time and it dries really quickly. I have already had it for 6 months and have hardly used any. It may seem pricey but remember how long it will last and remember the going rate for a mani is like $20 every week if it is just normal polish, right?

Step Two: Do a very light first coat of color. It does not have to be perfect.

After letting the first coat dry, it is time to get serious. Maybe pause The Real Housewives of Orange County? Do your second coat more meticulously and make sure you go edge to edge. By the way this is an Essie color called “Bikini so Teeny” but I am using an OPI brush.

Let fully dry.

Now, end with your top coat – remember make it a light layer. I am loving this top coat right now.

Sorry for my shadows, but it gives a nice professional looking shine like you would get from shellac, almost. You may remember me using my OPI top coat and going to bed 3 hours later and getting hair marks all over my mani? I do not have that problem anymore with this top coat.

I can get about 5 days out of this process. That is with washing a ton of dishes lately and not being careful at all.

I will say that I think keeping your nails a bit shorter helps the manicure last longer.

What do you think? Any tips for me?


25 thoughts on “My Manicure at Home

  1. Great ideas!
    Swedes rarely do their nails on a salon, so I’m with you!
    This is my routine: Friday evening – remove nail polish, put on some kind of strengthener or nail oil; Saturday morning – base coat, preferably strengthening; Sunday morning – two coats of color and top coat.
    Works for me, but I have quite bad nails that split, so color doesn’t stay on for long. I just redo the tips with some color in the middle of the week…
    I love Essie, great idea to use another brush!


    1. Thank you! That is a great routine! My nails are pretty healthy – especially since last March when I took the dip off and let them breathe.
      A reader reminded me that the Essie gel formula has a bigger brush! I had forgotten!


  2. I’ve been painting my nails since high school, and it my little treat to myself. A few years ago I started using Seche top and bottom coat which have been a game changer with making the manis last a week. I just ordered ManiMe gel (stickers?) and am excited to try them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same – but maybe younger than hs. I have had that top coat and used it up. Now using the one I have until it’s gone but then I will order that again.
      I looked into the Manime. Let us know what you think.
      I’m jealous of your gel!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am going to take a before and after picture of my nail polishes once I do the big purge – I have so many I’ve only used a few times. My favorite OPI color of all time is Mod About You and I’d love for it to last more than a day or two. I’ll try your steps! I am a weirdo who does not enjoy sitting at the salon to have anything done really, not even a pedicure but I do like the end result!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok! I love that color and had to throw it out because I used whole bottle! Ha! I don’t know why I was saving it. I wonder if the base coat would help.
      I’m the same – I can’t handle an hour massage!
      Have a great day!


  4. Great post Amy! Have you tried the essie gel couture nail polishes? I got some for Christmas. You use the polish, then they have a top coat. The brush is bigger, more like the opi brush, and my nail polish lasted a whole week! I have a bit of a chip on one finger this week, but I’m also back at school and wash my hands/use sanitizer about a million times a day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I have – I think just the top coat and it’s gone now. Honestly I forgot all about that line. So, thank you for the reminder that the brushes are bigger!
      I will look at that line for my next color purchase. I think I like Essie’s colors better. They are so unique.
      Maybe I will list favorite colors of Essie and OPI in a future post?
      Do you have any favorite Essie colors?


  5. Hi and thank you for this post – you made my day! Great tips too! I had my gel removed from my nails on Tuesday and looking forward to a healthy nail bed that I’m sure needs a break. I will totally be referring to this post for self-manicure tips. Thank you so much – we could totally be friends!


    1. You are so welcome! I thank you for the idea! My nails were in pretty bad shape last March after having dip removed. I think it is the using of that tool to take it off that hurt the surface. I am happy to say that they did not take long to get healthy again.
      You are too kind and we are internet friends! Ha!


  6. I really like your blog and we have a lot in common! I love the Costco gray and black star shirt, bought mine on sale. I am going to try and not buy so much Costco as like you mentioned 5 cheap Costco tops vs. one $50-$60 top may be worth it. I agree on the Tom and Shari wrinkle spray too! I love those boots you showed from Target and may look into them. I actually have had better luck with Target and Old Navy for good fitting boots. We remodeled our entire first floor fall 2019 and into 2020, thankfully were mostly done by March 13. My husband is handy and could finish what was left. Basically we moved everything, so a lot was donated, thrown, organized, but it’s been a year! You will do this with your kitchen remodel. So much happier with less utensils and such. I love your organization lists and agree to be specific. I have a file drawer to go through and then need to reorganize files. Not a fun task. I will get tax info together at the same time. I went through my nail polish too and really like Salley Hansen Gel. I use the polish and top coat. It has the wider brush too and lasts well. Oh, our bathroom remodel stressed me so much as our plumber was hard to reach and so rude! We know our limits and we changed from a tub/shower to big shower and love it, but getting it all done was a process. It was the last item completed. Glass shower doors are $$$. We have been in our home 17 years this May. Glad you updated your slippers. Foot pain is terrible. I learned to wear shoes at home too. Have a great weekend and hang in there. Our community is going to try and send K-5 back on a hybrid. Thinking of you too as your boys head back. So glad you have stayed healthy. Oh, love consignment and such and your one son’s love of it!


    1. Thank you Christa! I am jealous you got your Costco star shirt for the sale price!
      Hard lesson to learn for us bargain hunters.
      Love my downy wrinkle!
      The boots were $19 and I need a place to wear them. I have not gone anywhere but need to.
      So you know the headache of remodeling.
      I will use this opportunity to purge!
      Papers are the worst! Hub does taxes and we have a small wooden file cabinet that is nice. I need to look into the Sally gel.
      I think we need to get younger back but it’s the teachers that I worry more about.
      Thank you so much. He is becoming more like me! I will miss them so much but I’m happy for them too.


  7. I love this! I am finding that the newer Essie colors have a bigger brush and I love it. Essie colors are my favorites, but that little brush is the worst. I am really missing salon pedicures! I keep thinking I’ll make an appointment but then I wonder if it’s worth it. I would love one good manicure/cuticles/nail shaping/hand massage and a long pedicure.
    I agree with you that I get bored of gel colors long before it’s time to change the polish. Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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