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Picture of Sarah Bridgeman

My DIY Manicure

Trust me, I know what you’re thinking. Been there, tried the DIY manicure. Well, I’m here to tell you my method lasts 6-7 days, ladies!

Fun fact: I almost always have my nails painted, and honestly don’t feel like myself when they aren’t painted! I never had my nails painted in high school because between all the sports, nasty goalie and softball gloves, it just wasn’t realistic. In college and up until this past year, I used to get regularly scheduled mani’s/pedi’s. They would without fail never ever last as long as it would if I did it at home. Plus, it was such a time trap even when I had an appointment.

So, what’s a girl to do?! Figure out a fool proof method! Over the past few years, I’ve been incorporating safer polishes, some that work amazing, and some that weren’t so great. Trust me, finding SAFE products that work was no easy task!

Let’s walk through the steps, shall we?!




If you have polish on, remove it with côte takeoff polish remover. It’s MUCH gentler and less drying than traditional acetone, côte’s non-acetone remover will gently wipe away polish, giving you a clean nail bed without any chalky residue. This one is my fav safer option because you don’t have to scrub for 3 hours to get the polish off! Praise!




Next, push your cuticles back and trim while they are soft from the remover. Then, cut and file for nails to your liking. I happen to like mine super short and square! I find that it’s easiest to do this right out of the shower/bath because your cuticles are soft!

Take your time triming, cutting, and shaping so you can make sure it’s done exactly how you like it! This will all be a waste if you are painting on poorly groomed nails!




This step may be the most important. Lightly file the top of your entire nail using a super soft nail block. Then go wash your hands! Next, wipe your nail clean with an alcohol pad.   DO NOT SKIP THE ALCOHOL PAD! This gets all the dust and any leftover polish remover off and gets your nail clean and ready to paint!




Time to paint!

BASE: I switch between côte’s strengthening base OR the Aila Prime, I like them both equally!

POLISH: As soon as I get one coat of base on I will start painting immediately. For most polishes, 2 coats is plenty.

My go to color used to be OPI funny bunny until I could find s a safer alternative. I’m SO happy to report my beloved Aila Mackenna is an EXACT dupe! I have to do 3 light coats of Mackenna. 97% of the time, this is the color you’ll find me wearing. I like both côte and Aila polishes equally!

TOP: This côte quick dry top coat is better than any toxic one I’ve ever used! Don’t skip it. It lives up to its name and really does dry fast. Best of all, IMO leaves a gel-like finish. WIN.




Time to clean up! You can use a precision tip cotton swab dipped in the polish remover if you made any mistakes a long the way! Trust me, the more you paint your nails, the better you will get at it!


Picture of nail polish and other manicure supplies




Don’t get crazy and decide to fold laundry or unload the dishwasher. You just put a lot of polish on your nails! Yes, you used a quick dry top coat, but all of that polish has to set.  Hang out, scroll on the gram, listen to a podcast, watch something on the DVR. Give yourself some time, at least 30-45 minutes. I know that seems like a lot of time, but find a day during your week you can make this happen. For me, my mani day is typically Sunday afternoon after all of the food prep and laundry has been done! Tim is typically lounging on the couch reading or watching a show, Scout is taking a snooze from a full weekend of play, so I take my time and allow everything to dry before starting dinner that evening!



Another thing I like to do to lengthen my mani is to apply another layer of the quick dry top coat on day 2 or 3. This ensures that it lasts the full 6-7 days.

Annddddd, if you really want to keep your mani looking good, you MUST keep your cuticles hydrated. I swear by the Beautycounter Soothing Baby oil and use it religiously throughout the day. I even keep a little container of it in my purse! I like to mix it with the Beautycounter Hand cream to really amp up the hydration! These products aren’t filled with fragrance, fillers, parabens, or any of the other yucky stuff most oils and lotions are generally full of! YAY.

Lastly, if you are going to have your hands in water cleaning up dishes, WEAR GLOVES. These are my fav kitchen gloves. This will no doubt help extend the life of your mani! Seriously, wearing gloves makes all the difference here.

This is my tried and true DIY manicure method! It takes a little time, but being able to do it and get a quality mani at home is so, so nice! If you aren’t ready for the DIY mani, you might be ready to try self tanning at home–if so, check out this post! 


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