How To Get a Salon Manicure At Home

Salon manicures? What are those these days?! I haven’t been to get my nails done in a salon in well over a year. But having polished nails is just one small thing that brings me joy. So over the past year, I’ve gotten pretty darn good at doing them myself at home. And I’m going to spill all my secrets, y’all. Here is everything I’ve learned over the past year about how to get a salon manicure at home!

How To Get a Salon Manicure At Home

First off, before we get into all the juicy tips, let me start by saying that practice makes perfect. These at home manicure tips will get you much farther along the learning curve than I was when I started! But the actual nail polish application process takes practice! (I’ll share my detailed tips in the step-by-step manicure process!) But don’t be afraid to make some flubs. Give it a little time, and you’ll be getting salon-perfect manicures at home in no time!

At Home Manicure Supplies

To get the perfect at home manicure, you are going to need a few supplies. I highly recommend snagging an Olive & June Mani System, which contains almost all of the must-haves you’ll ever need! Their Mani System is what I’ve been using over the past year and a half, and I can’t say enough good things about it. My neighbors, friends, and family members are now all hooked too! I truly can’t shut up about it. 😂

The Mani System contains a nail clipper, nail file, nail buffer, nail polish remover pot, cuticle oil, clean up brush, “Poppy” grip that slides on your polish lid and helps steady your hands, nail polish (that you can select individually), and top coat! (Code LAURENDIX20 will get you 20% off a mani system!) If you’re looking for any add-ons, I also highly recommend grabbing their dry drops. They’re not a necessity, but for a busy mom, I rarely have the time to sit and wait for my polish to completely dry! Another one of my favs is the nail primer, but again, it’s a nice-to-have over a necessity.

Use code LAURENDIX20 for 20% off your Olive & June mani system!

At Home Manicure Supplies:

  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file
  • Buffer
  • Nail polish remover
  • Clean-up tool
  • Cuticle oil
  • Nail polish
  • Top coat
  • Dry drops (optional)
  • Nail primer (optional)

Step By Step Process

Now that you have all your tools, let’s get ready to get that salon manicure at home!

Remove any polish already on your nails

Start by cleaning your nails of any polish that might already be on your nails. Olive & June’s nail polish remover pot makes it easy. You’ll just dip your nails in, brushing them against the foam surround, and viola! Clean nails.

Cut and Shape Nails With Your File

Since I polish fairly regularly (about once a week), I don’t often have to do much in the form of trimming. But if you’d like to take length off, start by trimming with you nail clippers. Remember not to over-clip. You’ll want to still have a little room to shape them in your desired fashion. Keep your nail shape in mind while trimming! For example, if you love an oval look, you’ll need slightly longer length in the center of your nail. For more of a square, trimming straight across is your best bet! Go for trimming and shaping about 90% of your length with the clippers, and leave the last 10% for your nail file!

Once you’re close to your desired length and shape, grab your nail file! It’s best to only file in one direction rather than the saw-like back-and-forth motion. Going in one direction gives you much better control over your nail shape and length. But even more importantly, filing back and forth actually weakens and can fray your nail!

Buff Your Nails (and Cuticle!)

To get a nice clean nail canvas and remove any bumps or light ridges in your nail, be sure to buff! I buff all the way from my cuticle bed to the tips of my nail to get an even surface. Buffing your cuticles is a great alternative to trimming (and safer too)! It helps remove some of the dead skin and keeps cuticles looking neat!

Buffing your nails may seem like a step you could quickly skip over, but don’t! Buffing also helps remove natural oil build-up, which is a difference-maker in the longevity of your manicure!

Remove Oils (With Polish Remover or a Prep Product)

Like I just mentioned, you want to remove all of the natural oils from your nail bed before polishing to get a long-lasting manicure! So, this step is another super-important can’t-miss step! After you’re done buffing, re-dip your nails into nail polish remover! It will remove any remnants of nail dust and oil, giving you the perfect canvas to paint on!

BIG TIP: Once you’ve dipped your nails into the nail polish remover, do not touch them with your fingers! You’ll want to immediately start painting as soon as the remover is dry. So, if you happen to get distracted and interrupted, make sure to go back and clean those nails again DIRECTLY prior to painting!

BIG TIP #2: DO NOT wash your hands! You want your nail beds as dehydrated as possible! When I started doing this, I saw a big increase in the longevity of my manicures!

Another thing that you can use is the Olive & June nail primer. It preps, primes, and dehydrates the nail bed prior to polish application! I typically use this directly after the second nail polish remover and have noticed that my manicures are lasting at least 2 days longer with this step! OPI also makes a similar product that I’ve previously tried and love too!


Here comes the fun part! But I do realize that this is the step that can also be the most frustrating. You can prep your nails to perfection, but if you get goopy with the polish or flood your cuticles, then it’s game-over!

My biggest tip is to go super-slowly. Take your time. Make sure to remove excess polish from the brush! You want nice, thin coats. If you’re painting with a sheer or light color, it is 100% going to look streaky at first, and THAT IS OKAY! This used to be one of my biggest mistakes. I’d paint thicker coats with sheers, trying to avoid any streaks from the start! They never turned out like at the salon!

Sheer shades will take 3 coats on average to become more opaque and even! So, if you start with the mindset that streaks are expected and the thinnest layers are what’s best, you’ll be well on your way.

Start mid-nail with your brush and gently push backwards toward your cuticle. But do not touch your cuticle with the brush. Leaving a skinny rim around your entire cuticle is a sure-fire way to give you a salon manicure appearance! If you accidentally touch skin, don’t worry. That can be cleaned up later!

Another tip is to make sure to let your polish dry in between coats. I set a timer for 5 minutes between each coat, so I can ensure I’m not rushing the process. When I don’t let it dry, polish can become too thick, and goopy polish is the last thing you want!

Clean up mistakes

Once you’ve completed the nail polish portion, it’s time to clean up those inevitable mistakes! Even after years of at-home manicures, I still always need to do a little clean up, especially on my dominant hand.

Before the O&J mani kit, I used to use q-tips or wrap a cuticle tool in cotton ball for clean-ups. But I never failed to get tiny little fibers stuck to my manicure! And there is nothing worse than getting this far to have your manicure ruined! I highly recommend getting a fine, tight-bristled paint brush or makeup brush for touch-ups! The O&J kit comes with one, but this nail art kit is affordable and looks perfect! Plus, you’ll get some nail art tips if you decide to get fancy with your manicures!

Top coat

Always finish off your manicure with a top coat! You’ll still want to wait at least 5 minutes after your last nail polish coat before applying, so remember to set that timer! My biggest tip here is to not only paint from the edge of your cuticle to the tips, but also cap your nails. This means you should also run the brush horizontally right along the tips of your nails. Since I’m pretty rough on my nails with cleaning and dishes, my chips always start right at the nail tip. Capping gives you an extra layer of protection at the tips!

Don’t worry of you get top coat on your finger tips. In fact, expect it. I have found no way to run the polish brush horizontally on my nail tip without touching my skin! (I do keep my nails short though!) Once your nails start to dry, it easily peels right off. Or you can use your handy clean up brush!

Dry Drops

This isn’t a must-have step for everyone, but it is 100% a necessity for me. It never fails that my kids ask for a snack or something right after I’ve finished painting! Tip: be sure to let your top coat set for at least one minute before applying the dry drops! Drop one to two drops on your nail and watch your polish set within 90 seconds. MAGIC, y’all.

Another thing I love about the dry drops is that they contain oil which moisturize your cuticles. It gives you the nourished, shiny nail and cuticle that looks just like a salon manicure finish! If you don’t have dry drops, be sure to add a little cuticle oil to your cuticles for a hydrated finish!

Maintain Your At Home Mani

If you want your manicure to make it the long haul, you have to continue to care for you manicure over the next several days! The best way you can do that is by following up with top coat two days. Apply top coat from the edge of your cuticle to tip! And don’t forget to cap those nails!! Not only will following up with top coat keep your nails chip-free, but it will also keep them shiny and looking fresh!

Also remember to keep up applying your cuticle serum! Having hydrated cuticles is another sure-fire way to maintain a salon manicure look!

Salon Manicure At Home Quick Recap

I know I just threw a lot of information at ya, so here’s a quick recap of my top tips of how to get a salon manicure at home!

Dehydrated nail beds are super important! So don’t wash your hands before or during your mani! Buffing will help remove oils and even out your nails! You’ll also want to use nail polish remover directly before polishing to remove any dust or remaining oils.

Paint slowly with thin coats! Yes, your first coat (or two!) may be streaky, and that’s okay!

Let your nails dry in between coats! I recommend a minimum of 5 minutes and set a timer!

Use a clean up brush for mistakes rather than cotton balls or q-tips to prevent fibers ruining your mani!

Dry drops are a lifesaver!

Code LAURENDIX20 for 20% off your Olive & June mani system!

Okay, tell me your top tips! Did I miss anything that is a game-changer for your at-home manis?


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