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Looking to master the art of at-home manicures? We suggest making sure your kit is stocked with these five essentials to help guarantee a flawless finish:


  1. Base coat. Manicurists use it, experts tout its benefits. Still, “the number one mistake I see people making is skipping a base coat,” explains Sarah Waite of ChalkboardNails.com. “It can make your manicure last days longer than if you were to go without, and it can prevent your nails from getting stained,” she adds. Sarah’s pick? CND Stickey or Orly Bonder.
  2. Nail file. Filing nails will get rid of unwanted length, as well as help you shape your tips. Be sure to file in one direction only to prevent splitting.
  3. Cuticle arsenal. Okay, this item is really three things that’ll help you properly prep your cuticles. Use a cuticle oil to soften first. Or, try an exfoliating/removing product for especially stubborn cuticles. Then push back cuticles with a cuticle stick (also known as an orange stick). As tempted as you might be to clip your cuticles, this can lead to redness and even infection. Want a shortcut? Try pushing back your cuticles with the corner of a towel after taking a hot shower!
  4. Nail buffer. These handy little tools feature four sides designed to smooth down the nail surface and buff away ridges or peeling, leaving the nail with a super high gloss finish. While buffed nails are perfect for polish adherence, they also look great sans lacquer!
  5. Top coat. Base and Top coats are the bread in an epic manicure sandwich – your nails will never look right without them. Top coat will help seal in color and prevent chips, making a manicure look flawless for a longer period of time. Reapplying top coat every 2-3 days will help freshen up nails. 


If you’ve perfected your manicure and want to give nail art a go, make sure to invest in a super skinny brush. “I used to get so frustrated with my inability to make fine lines, but it turned out my brush was just too thick,” says Waite. “If you don’t have an extra fine brush, try thinning out the bristles in a thicker brush using cuticle nippers.”

Be sure to stalk Sarah Waite on Nailstyle and stay tuned for even more tips and tutorials!