I’m excited about this post this week because I get to tell you a super easy and inexpensive way to get a salon quality manicure (or pedicure) at home for around $2 a manicure! Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of a salon manicure and the gel polish they use. But what I don’t love is the cost and the time it takes to get this done. And let’s be honest, this is not something you can just skimp on and let go! Nasty nails are not attractive, at all, so keep reading to find out how I finally figured out how to do this at home!
Here’s what you need to get started. If you dig around in your nail polish or makeup bags (like I did) you might find that you already have these things on hand. I know over the years I’ve gotten these nail kits free with something, found them in the dollar bin or someone gave it to me and I just threw it in the bin where I keep my nail polish and I never paid much attention. I was surprised when I went through it that 1. I already had everything I need to get started and 2. I had kept these items for so long and never used them! So see what you have on hand first before you go out and buy these. If you do have to buy them, don’t spend a lot. Check the Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart and try to find something inexpensive. I actually don’t know the names of all these things so I’m including a picture below so you can see what I’m talking about: 1. If you need to remove your nail polish before you get started, I’ve found the Onyx Acetone Nail Polish Remover works the best.
2. Cotton Pads (for removal of old polish – you probably already have these on hand)
3. Cuticle Trimmer – Great for trimming hangnails
4. Cuticle Pusher and Nail Cleaner, – I don’t have this exact one in the picture, I have them in 2 separate pieces (the stick looking things) and I didn’t want to buy something different.
5. Your favorite polish – in this picture I”m using China Glaze in Sexy Silhouette
6. A fingernail file (not pictured) to shape your nails the way you like
The next 2 items are the secret weapon for the manicure hack…
9. A fan – optional. I put my hands in front of it so my nails can dry quicker
I’ll walk you through step by step how I do this. I know there is probably many variations of this but this is what worked for me:
1. Take off any old polish with the acetone remover. I know acetone isn’t the best thing in the world but since we are not soaking our nails in it, I don’t worry to much about it. I find it takes polish off quickly and easily. If you don’t want to use acetone remover (or don’t have it on hand) use what you have on hand.
2. Wash your hands to remove any of the remover and dry your hands making sure your nails are dry.
3. File your nails in the shape you want. Be careful going in a “see-saw” motion back in forth. I like my nails squared so I go in one direction, keeping the file parallel to the bottom of my nail to get a straight line. You might need to buff your nails after filing to smooth this out. I like to do that just to soften any hard edges.
4. To clean up your nails and cuticles, you can do this two different ways: a. Soak both hands in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes to soften your cuticles or b. Take a bath like you normally would and during this time your cuticles will soften making removal of all the gunk around your fingers much easier. I do mine right after a bath because it’s just easier for me.
5. Using the cuticle pusher and nail cleaner (the stick looking things in my picture), I go around my nails and push the cuticles back. This gets rid of any dead skin around there and gives your nail a cleaner look. I also use the cuticle trimmer to get any hangnails around my nails. I’ll admit, I’m not very good with the cuticle trimmer but I just do the best I can. Make sure you don’t cut too close and cut your finger!
6. Once my nails are filed and cleaned up, it’s time to paint them. The thing to remember about the CND Stickey Base is….well it’s sticky!
YOU MUST APPLY YOUR FIRST COAT OF NAIL POLISH WHILE IT’S STILL STICKY!
Sorry for the all caps there but I want to make sure you know that that is what helps the polish bond and stay on well!!
I also only do one hand at a time because the Stickey Base dries somewhat quickly so I found doing one hand at a time works the best.
7. Ok so get read and apply your first coat of Stickey Base to all your fingers on one hand. I don’t go too heavy and I don’t go too light with this, just somewhere in between.
8. Then apply a thin coat of the polish you are going to use to all your fingers on one hand.
9. Now put your hand in front of a fan for about 30 seconds or let it air dry for a minute or so. Be careful not to bump it during this time as the polish isn’t “set” yet.
10. Apply the second coat of polish to the same hand and put your hand in front of a fan for 30 seconds or let air dry for a minute.
11. Lastly, apply CND Super Shiney Top Coat and put your hand in front of the fan for 3-5 minutes or let air dry.
12. Repeat on your other hand.
13. Wait 20-30 minutes after both hands are done before you do anything in case your nails haven’t fully dried. Lightly touch your nails so you can see if they have dried before you dig into anything with your hands.
14. This manicure should last anywhere from 7-10 days.
Tips & Tricks
1. The most important thing I can say about this is you have to apply your first coat of color when the Stickey Base is stil sticky as this helps the color bond to the nail.
2. Do one hand at a time – it’s easier and the Stickey Base dries sort of quickly so this ensures #1 above happens.
3. If you don’t have a fan, you can let your nails air dry. I just use a small fan I already had at home because I’m impatient and don’t like to wait!
4. You can use any polish and this should work. Some of my favorite brands are China Glaze, Finger Paints & Orly. However, most of these polishes can be upwards of $10! Of course, I’m not paying that so I find them at Sally Beauty Supply, Beauty World, Ulta etc when they are on sale. I generally don’t pay over $2 per bottle.
5. At first I wasn’t sure how long I should wait in between coats. So I tried this 2 ways. On my nails, I put the Stickey Base coat on, then immediately applied my first coat of polish. I put my fingers in front of the fan and let it dry. I repeated this for the second coat of polish and the Shiney Top Coat.
For my pedicure, I didn’t let the polishes dry in between. I literally just put them on one at a time and waited til the end to use the fan.
I had success doing it both ways with no smudging!!!
6. This manicure really does provide a nice hard coating over your nails as a gel manicure would from the salon (for a much lower price!)
This is how I broke down the cost for this. I had everything on hand but the CND Stickey Base and CND Super Shiney Top Coat. I wanted to try this out so I went to Beauty World and got them instead of ordering on Amazon. The cost was $8 for each or $16 total. I bought another file that I needed and found another color for around $2 so I estimated my cost to do this was $20. If you don’t have some of these items on hand, your cost will be more but it shouldn’t be that much more.
I read some of the reviews on Amazon and people said their bottled of Stickey Base began to harden up after awhile since it was so sticky so they didn’t get to use the whole bottle. I’m not sure if this will happen to me or not so I’m estimating I can get 10 manicures out of this (which is probably a low estimate). So $20 in supplies/10 manicures = $2 DIY Gel Manicure Hack!
This is a picture of my manicure after 7 days. I would have let this go longer but I wanted to change the color for another event I was going to:
You can see there is some wear on the tips. I didn’t do a good job of applying color and top coat to the tips so that is something I will pay more attention to.
But after 7 days, I was still SUPER happy with this manicure and still think it’s totally worth it!
Have you tried this DIY Gel Manicure Hack? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Bonus Money Saving Tips
Are you looking for more personal finance tips? Here is a list of some of my most popular tips for making & saving money:
Making More Money
Know Where you Are Today – Before starting out on any endeavor, it’s important to understand where you are today. I suggest using Personal Capital to get a holistic view of your financial picture. It’s free and easy to use. It can be accessed via your desktop, tablet or mobile device and will provide insight into where you are spending today and where you might be able to cut back.
Blogging – This is one of the first questions I always get asked so I’m including this one first. How can I earn extra income with a blog? As you can probably imagine, that isn’t a question I can answer in just a few sentences! One of the ways to earn extra income through a blog is from affiliate marketing. This can be a tricky topic if you don’t know what you are doing. A fellow personal finance blogger has put together a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing that will teach you how to earn extra income from affiliate marketing. Michelle teaches you the exact steps she has taken to earn $100,000/mo (yes per month) from her blog. I have went through this course myself and loved it, I highly recommend it!
Bring in More Money – In some instances, you may not be able to cut back anymore so in addition to cutting back, earning extra income can help you to bridge the gap in your income. Sites like Flexjobs and Moonlighting let you earn extra or full time income from home. I particularly like Flexjobs (more detail in my Flexjobs review) and have used their services in the past when I was looking for a IT Consulting job where I could work from home. The service is exactly as described as they are able to aggregate legitimate work from home professional positions in one place. You can even set up alerts to be notified when positions you are interested in become available.
Start a Side Gig – Do you have a hobby you enjoy? Have you ever thought of making income from it? The opportunities for having a side gig (something you work on in your free time) and earning income are endless these days! I wrote an article on how I’m earning multiple streams of income. What do you enjoy doing that can help you bring in extra income?
Survey Sites – Depending on the survey site, you can get paid cash and or have the opportunity to try free products. I have done many of these over the years and always enjoyed earning the extra money. I’ve also been able to try new beauty products, food items and many other things I wouldn’t normally try, for free! Note: you should never pay for information for these types of sites. Here are a few I recommend: American Consumer Opinion Panel, InboxDollars (ios), Swagbucks, Harris Poll, Epoll Market Research, VIP Voice, Your Surveys, Nielsen Digital Voice, Earning Station, Vindale Research, Panda Research
Ebates – Using Ebates can help you earn cash back. By shopping through Ebates at your favorite stores, you earn cash back on your purchases. Ebates will pay you via check or Paypal. Check it out, it’s a great way to earn extra money for things you are already buying (just make sure you really need what you are buying!).
Rent out Your Space – Have an extra room to rent out & want to earn some extra cash? Sites like Homestay.com connect guests to local hosts in over 150 countries. Hosts offer their guests the chance to live and breathe the local culture, to make friends as well as memories and to explore destinations in a truly authentic way. Homestay hosts can enjoy the fulfillment of being a part of their guest’s new adventures and make some money by renting out their extra space! Airbnb is another great site to use to find places to stay or rent your space out. If you use this link to sign up, we both get a $35 travel credit! And, you can earn another $75 in travel credit when you welcome your first guest!
Consolidate when it makes sense – I’m not always a big fan of consolidating loans but sometimes it can take the pressure off you when you have a lot of payments. (Of course – the trick to that is to stop the behavior that caused you to get all the payments in the first place!) If you are looking to consolidate your debt, I recommend Lending Club. Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lender which means you are able to bypass a traditional bank and get connected with investors who fund your loan and earn monthly returns. Normal credit checks still apply and Lending Club offers unsecured personal loans of up to $35,000 to borrowers with good-to-excellent credit at very competitive rates. I have used Lending Club twice for loans and have been happy with the products and services both times. I highly recommend Lending Club if you are looking for an alternative to a traditional bank.
Cut the Cable – Years ago I decided to get rid of cable and was able to stream content through my Roku device. I still love my Roku as an alternative to cable and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in saving money. I wrote a detailed guide on how to get rid of cable and use a Roku device. In addition to my Roku device (where I stream Netflix & Amazon Prime) I also purchased a $6 antenna to watch local channels live. It’s a great set up and has saved me over $1,200 a year!
Find Inexpensive Fun – Looking for a night out but don’t want to spend a lot of money? Yelp Deals, Living Social & Groupon all offer inexpensive ways to go out and have fun without spending a lot of money.
Save Money on Your Cell Phone – change your plan, remove unused lines or ask for a corporate discount. Don’t work at a corporation? Sprint gives a discount for being a credit union member. I personally like Sprint because of the unlimited data, but you may not need that. If not, try Republic Wireless. I know a lot of people who use Republic Wireless and are really happy with the service and the low prices! If your not familiar with the company, Republic Wireless is an innovative new mobile provider, spearheading a wireless freedom movement to return value and control of the smartphone experience to its members. Leveraging the power of the Internet and an engaged community of users, Republic Wireless offers unlimited talk, text, & data starting as low as $5 per month, with no contract required.
Save Money on Shaving – Shaving is a fact of life and unfortunately buying expensive shaving cream and razors can add up and quick. Years ago I read a tip to use conditioner in the place of shaving cream. I’ve been doing that for many years and it is amazing. I buy a bottle of conditioner from the dollar store and I’m set with shaving cream for quite awhile! Additionally, I discovered a site called Dorco to order razors in bulk at an extremely discounted price. I love this site and use them anytime I need to buy razors. They have mens and women’s razors & razor sets and you can’t beat the price & the quality! Try the Dorco Frugal Gal’s pack and let me know what you think!
Save Money Using Zaycon Foods to Buy Meat – If you’ve never heard of Zaycon Foods, let me tell you about this amazing company. I’ve been using them for the past 4 years to buy my meat in bulk and purchasing this way is a great way to save! The owners of this company have taken the middle man out of the meat buying process and getting food from the farm right to consumers like you and me. They’ve been around since 2009 and the service has been so popular, it’s grown tremendously over the past few years. The way it works is you go online, set up an account, place your order and on the day of your Zaycon sales event, you drive to the location and pick up your food. It’s simple and easy!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or reach out to me so I can help.