Skip the Salon

Don’t get me wrong; one of my favorite things to do is getting my nails done. One of the first things people tend to notice about me is that I ALWAYS have my nails polished. During my freshman year at college, I started experimenting with nail polish and fell in love with not only painting my nails but also the process of prepping them for the polish.

I have learned quite a few tips and tricks for making my at-home manicure last for a decent amount of time throughout the years. So today, I am going to share those with you! I hope these tips and products make your at-home manicure feel a little more upscale 😉

Nail Polish Remover
Nail Clippers
Glass Nail File (or an emery board)
Cuticle Tool
Buffing Block
CND Stickey Base Coat
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat

I begin by removing my polish from the previous week. Be sure to use a non-acetone polish remover like this one that I have been using for years. After the old polish is removed, I clip my nails to the desired length. (I play the piano, so I tend to keep my nails shorter.) I don’t take too long with the clipping process because I file my nails immediately after to shape them. (I tend to shape my nails as more of a square/oval. Here is a chart if you are curious about the different ways to shape your nails.) I have just started using a glass nail file within the last few months, and I absolutely love it! You can read all about the benefits of a glass nail file over an emery board here and decide for yourself whether you will make the switch or not. (For those of you wondering, I found my glass nail file at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was not very expensive at all, maybe less than $5 and it has been working really well!)

After I shape my nails how I want, I soak them in warm water for 30-60 seconds and use my cuticle tool (similar to this one) to gently push back my cuticles. I have heard of others using cuticle oil on their nails instead of soaking them in water before pushing back the cuticles, so if you feel like giving that a try, go for it! (I’m still on the hunt for a good cuticle oil, so when I find one I will be sure to update this post.) The final step before the polishing process begins is to use a buffing block to smooth out my nails to prep them for the polish.

Those may seem like a lot of steps, but trust me, your nails will thank you for taking the time to properly prep them for the polish. Over the years, I have found this process very relaxing for myself. I know that everyone doesn’t feel the same way, but for me, I actually look forward to my nail painting process each week. 🙂 Once your nails are prepped for polish, you need to make sure you are using quality products in order for your polish to last as long as possible.

I begin by applying one coat of Stickey Base Coat to my nails and let dry for a little (it doesn’t need much time). My aunt introduced me to CND Stickey Base Coat years ago, and this was a game changer for me! This base coat is designed to keep the polish from chipping so quickly. Now it’s not a miracle worker…you will still get some chips throughout the week, but I have found that I get significantly fewer chips when I use this base coat. You can find this base coat in stores at Ulta or online (Amazon, Walmart, etc.). Next I apply two thin coats of polish to my nails being sure to let the polish dry between coats. Everyone is different, but I have found that OPI nail polish gives me the longest wear on a regular basis. It is definitely my favorite brand of nail polish with Butter London as a close second (Butter London also gives me consistently long wear, but has a higher price tag than OPI). I finish off the polishing process with a quick-dry top coat. About 2 years ago or so, another one of my aunts told me about Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat, and I have been using it ever since. Have you ever painted your nails at night only to wake up the next morning with little lines imprinted on your freshly painted nails? I had this happen too often and couldn’t figure out how to prevent it. That is when my aunt told me that using a quick-dry top coat (another of my aunts uses Seche Vite) helps to prevent those lines from forming! It also helps to prevent smudging freshly painted nails. Once again, this top coat is a game-changer! Now, a quick-dry top coat won’t prevent all smudges. You still need to give the polish time to set before doing anything too crazy. Typically, I wait about an hour before trying to tackle anything too extensive.

That was a lot of information, and I hope it wasn’t too overwhelming. I truly enjoy the whole process of painting my nails, and my hope is that I can pass on even a little bit of that enjoyment to you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!

Favorite Fall Nail Colors

One of the first things people tend to notice about me is that I LOVE to paint my nails. The obsession started in college with another polish-obsessed roommate. She had a whole shoe box full of different nail colors and let me borrow whatever color I wanted. It was then that I really started to experiment with different nail colors and found the whole process of painting my nails very relaxing. Now, painting my nails is something I look forward to each week.

All that being said, this time of year is the perfect time to wear some of my favorite colors. I start to phase out the lighter, brighter colors of summer and transition to the deep, rich jewel tones of fall.

Here are a few favorites from my own personal collection.


I like to try and mix up my favorite neutral shades with some bolder colors, like blues and purples. What are your go-to colors for fall?