How to Give Yourself a Minimalist Manicure

We all feel more polished and put together when we have a fresh manicure. There’s also nothing more relaxing than sitting back and enjoying the ambient light and music of a salon while you get pampered.

Unfortunately for those of us who do the laundry, dishwashing, or really anything with our hands, a standard manicure tends to chip within a day. You can solve this by getting a gel or dip manicure, but they get pricey and can cause damage to your nails.

The perfect solution is to do it yourself. You don’t have to be a professional to get great looking nails at home. We’ll break it down so that even an amateur can give themselves an elegant manicure. 

Below we’ll give you some ideas for basic tools that can make your manicure easier, simple prep you can do to your own nails to imitate a professional finish, and a few easy techniques and styles that will have your friends asking who did your nails. It’s up to you if you share your secret, we won’t tell!

One extra anti-aging tip - shave the back of your hands every time you are in the middle of the shower and your hands will look much younger in an instant. Use shaving razors for men to avoid artificial moisturizers. Over time, when doing this once or twice a week, your skin will go back in time! 

Let’s get back to our manicure killer guide:




We’ve rounded up a few beauty must-haves that we think are essential for basic nail prep and maintenance while keeping in mind that you don’t want to make a huge investment- you’re trying to save money on salon manicures after all!

You can buy the products below for less than the cost of one manicure and you’ll be able to use them again and again.

Nail Care Kit

You probably already have nail clippers and maybe an old nail file rattling around your bathroom drawer. If you want to give yourself a great at-home manicure, having some good tools certainly helps.

Besides clippers and a file, it’s great to have a cuticle pusher on hand (just don’t go crazy with it, use gently after you’ve let your hands rest in some warm water) and a nail buffer.

Or you get a travel kit, it’s got everything you need and you can keep it all organized in the kit.

Base Coat

A great base coat won’t add any color to your nail, it just prepares the nail to better receive a color. Applied before a color coat, the base coat will protect your nail from becoming discolored and helps lengthen the wear of the color polish.

Worn alone, a base coat will add a nice shine to a freshly filed nail for a quick and easy minimalist manicure!

Long-Wear Nail Polish

Feel free to use whatever polish you have on hand, but if you’re looking for a new color try to get a long-wearing color. A long-wearing color may be more expensive than your average drug store brand, but you get what you pay for! You’ll get a longer life out of the better polish and you’re still not spending as much as you would on a professional manicure.


Manicure checklist

Steps to a Great At-Home Manicure

Follow the steps below for a professional manicure that you can do yourself (massage chair not included). If you’re short on time feel free to skip a few steps.

Prepare the nails

Gather everything you need (including a bowl of warm water and paper towels) so you don’t have to get up with wet nails and grab something.  

Remove any existing nail polish. If your previous manicure chipped off, run a towel with nail polish remover over the nail anyway, sometimes there’s a polish residue that you can’t see stuck to your nail.

Wash and dry your nails.

Maintain the nails and cuticles

Clip and or file your nails. Some people exclusively file, that’s fine! If you don’t have a lot of nail to remove a file alone will do the trick. A good rule of thumb is for the whites of the nail to extend just slightly past the fingertip. When filing the nail, do so lightly, in one direction to avoid damaging it.

Buff your nails. You can get a four-sided buffer in your nail kit, they’re inexpensive and the sides are even labeled so you know which order to use them in.

Soak your nails then push back the cuticles. Do this gently, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Moisturize your hands, then run a towel dipped in nail polish remover over your nail to remove any lotion or oil.

Apply the Base Coat

Cover the entire nail from cuticle to tip with your base coat.

Let the base coat dry for 5 minutes. The surface might be slightly sticky. This is okay, it helps the polish stick better.

Apply the Polish

First, shake the polish bottle well. This helps reincorporate any liquids that have become separated in the bottle, gets rid of air bubbles and ensures you’ll get an even color on your nail.

Paint the nail starting with one stripe in the middle, followed by stripes on either side. This spreads the color evenly and prevents you from getting polish on the sides of your nail beds.

Let the first coat dry completely, then apply a second coat. If you have a top coat (sometimes your base coat will come with a topcoat, or you might have a two in one) apply that last, after removing any smudges with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. You can skip the topcoat, but your manicure will last longer if you don’t.


Here are a few ideas we love for DIY minimalist manicures. They’re more interesting than a solid shade but still easy enough for you to do yourself.

French Manicure

You can achieve the look of a French manicure by covering all but the tips of your nails with any kind of tape. Paint the visible nail with your tip color. You don’t have to be too careful since you have the tape protecting the rest of your nail. White is the traditional color, but something bold like red, silver or black keeps things interesting.

Reverse French Manicure

This is just what it sounds like, instead of painting just the tip of your nail, you paint just the area right above your cuticle. You can get this look the same way you did the French manicure, just keep only the area above the cuticle exposed.

Polka Dot Manicure

Make a simple dot tool with a bobby pin or straight pin from your sewing kit. You can do this with fun colors, but if you’re keeping things simple we like to go with classic colors like black and silver and keep the dots to a minimum. Three dots across the top of your nail or down the middle (or even just one dotted party nail) keeps things classy.

Minimalist Manicure Ideas