How to Get the Perfect No-Chip Manicure at Home

A great manicure can make you feel like you can take on the world. But as a busy college student, I often don’t have the time or extra money to go to the salon for a set of gel nails.

Today I’m going to teach you my secret to a salon-worthy manicure at home, that lasts an entire week and is a lot more friendly on your wallet.


  • Nail Polish Remover & Cotton Pads
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail File & Nail Buffer
  • Cuticle Pusher
  • Nail Polish
  • Seche Vite Top Coat
  • Lotion
  • Cuticle Oil


1. PREP.

First, start off with a clean slate by removing any old nail polish. My favorite nail polish remover brand is Cutex. It’s strong enough to remove the darkest colors, but doesn’t dry out my nails too much.



After your nails are completely clean of any old polish, I always wash my hands so they don’t smell like nail polish remover or have any residue.

Then, it’s time to trim and shape your nails! Since I file mine so often, I often never have to trim them. I like to keep mine in a “squoval” shape, which is square with rounded edges. It’s one the easiest nail shapes to do at home, and is also really practical.



Now it’s time to soak your nails so that your cuticles soften up and are ready to be pushed down and trimmed. I try to do this step whenever I have enough time because it really does make a big difference in how your final manicure looks.



Even when you’re painting your nails a light color, a base coat is still important. It will give your nails a smooth base, which allows your color to go on much easier and helps it last even longer. I love using Sally Hansen Triple Strong nail strengthener, because years of gel and acrylic nails have left mine kind of weak.



This sounds self-explanatory, but here’s where the secret of this mani comes in.

I do two coats of nail polish, a layer of Seche Vite, another layer of nail polish, and one last coat of Seche Vite.

It sounds like a lot, but the Seche Vite is a dry-fast top coat, so I hardly ever have to wait for my nails to dry at all. Because ain’t no body got time for that! 😉

The extra coat of nail polish and top coat is what gives the manicure that gel look and durability that I think rivals nail salons. Seriously…my last at-home manicure using two coats of Seche Vite lasted an entire week!

After the nail polish is mostly dry, I gently wash my hands one more time in cold water. Cold water helps your polish dry even faster.



And finally, I love finishing off my mani with lotion and cuticle oil. I’ve been obsessed with this pink tulip and green apple Tocca lotion from a previous BirchBox, and Nail Medic Argan Drops.


And there you have it! A DIY salon-worthy manicure. This week, I used Essie’s Peak Show, which is a really pretty ballerina pink that I’ve been obsessed with lately.

The right nail polish has so much to do with avoiding chipping on your manicure. I find that neon colors chip SO fast, so I try to stick with neutrals most of the time, which typically last a lot longer. Plus, neutrals go with virtually every outfit and occasion. Win!


Do you like doing your nails at home? If so, what are your secrets? Spill it all in the comments below.


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