DIY lasting manicure tutorial

What is it about a manicure that just makes a girl feel pretty? I still remember my first set of acrylic nails and pedicure. I spent some time in Dallas with my aunt and uncle the summer before 5th grade. My aunt always loved to spoil me and I loved being spoiled! One day we went for mani’s & pedi’s before meeting my uncle for lunch. (Isn’t it amazing how I can remember these details considering how forgetful I am?) I was probably wearing my new threads from Limited Too, butterfly hair clips and matching powerbeads bracelet because I was cool like that. Anyways, the time came for me to pick what color I wanted my toenails to be painted and I panicked. I chose some bright neon orange which seemed awesome at the time; however, not so much when it didn’t match the rest of the clothes I packed! When I came home from my week with my aunt and uncle, I was sent home with an envelope of money to get my nails “filled.” I had no clue what that meant, but it sounded important. I excitedly told my mom what the money was for and I think she might have rolled her eyes. She was probably thinking No daughter of mine is going to be a diva! Well, that’s exactly what my Aunt Debbie created. :) I was hooked! I loved getting my nails done {mainly for special events} because I just felt beautiful. Now that I’m a mom I don’t have the time {or take the time} to get my nails done. My husband always tells me to get my nails done {he just wants his back scratched!} but I don’t anymore. I’d rather use the $35 for something else. I’m sounding more and more like my mother! {Love you, Mom!}

After looking at my unpolished nails for far too long, I decided to paint them.  {I act like this is a huge deal, but for me it is—I hate not using my hands while the polish dries!} Why not take a few minutes of my time to do something for myself that makes me feel a little bit prettier? I learned a few tips in cosmetology school {No, I didn’t graduate. Yes, I make beauty school dropout jokes about myself. Laugh it up!} and wanted to share my easy four step process. So, for all of you folks out there wanting a quick, lasting manicure, read on.


  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cotton balls
  • Base Coat
  • Colored Polish
  • Top Coat
  • Optional: quick dry spray, orange stick, moisturizer, cuticle oil


Assuming you’re not like me and actually take care of your hands and cuticles {or wear cute little gloves to do the dishes}, proceed to the next step. Otherwise, slather on some lotion & gently push your cuticles back with an orange stick. File the edge of your nails if needed.

  1. First, take a cotton ball with some nail polish remover and go over each fingernail. This is such a simple step that many people don’t do, but it’s the best way to remove the top layer of oils on your nails which promotes better nail polish staying power.
  2. Next, apply a good base coat. {I like China Glaze Strong Adhesion Base Coat} Don’t purchase a product that says “base and top coat”. Your base coat and top coat should be two completely different products. A base coat has a slightly tacky finish which gives the nail polish something to hold on to. Trust me on this one—the 2-in-1 products are not worth it because they can’t do two different jobs.
  3. Now, you can apply your colored polish. Don’t be like me and pick a weird color. I always regret my color choice, but I’m actually enjoying the color I picked this time! {OPI A-Taupe The Space Needle} The best way to get a good color payoff is to apply a thin layer of polish, let it dry, and apply another thin layer. Typically, you want to only use three strokes of the brush for each nail {one for the center & one for each side} per coat, resulting in two coats of colored polish. Did I lose you there?
  4. Finally, apply a top clear coat to your nails. I’ve been using Revlon Extra Life No Chip Top Coat with good results. If desired, you can finish by spraying your nails with a nail dry spray like the one pictured below {purchased at Sally Beauty Supply} and applying some cuticle oil.


 opi nail polish a taupe the space needle swatch

opi nail polish a taupe the space needle swatch

I’m sure I’ve missed something and I could definitely go into detail about the actual painting of the nails, but this is my simple four step mani that I give myself. Once you get all of the steps down, it’s a breeze. Of course, I waited until right before we left for my cousin’s couples shower {Congrats Blake & Tori!} this weekend and didn’t have time to snap any pictures, so I did that today. I painted them Saturday evening and I have to say they don’t look too shabby after our crazy weekend! It never fails that I smudge the tip of at least one of my nails before they are completely dry! A weird, but tried and true tip is to lick the smudge! I know it sounds crazy, but it really works. It blends that nasty smudge right back in and doesn’t look any worse for the wear! I hope you enjoyed this simple little beauty tutorial. It’s crazy to me how so many people don’t know these little tricks, but I’ve always loved hair, makeup & nails for as long as I can remember! I guess some things are just second nature to people. Leave me some feedback in the comment section and let me know if there’s something you’d like me to write about. I look forward to bringing you more beauty tutorials–especially simple ones for busy moms, working women, and students alike. {Maybe even some dads out there that aren’t afraid to paint their daughter’s nails?}


What’s your go-to nail polish color?


Until next time,



I’m linking to Big Hair and Books Way Back Wednesday link up.

Big Hair and Books

4 thoughts on “DIY lasting manicure tutorial

  1. Whoa, I’m so impressed by how professional your nails look. I couldn’t paint that cleanly (especially using my left hand!) if my life depended on it. And really good color choice! Of course neon orange is a good choice too ;)


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