Select Page

7 Types of DIY Manicures & Nail Care at-Home Tips

7 Types of DIY Manicures & Nail Care at-Home Tips

Not that long ago, if you didn’t want to spend money at the salon to get a professional manicure, your only DIY manicure option was regular nail polish. And, if you were not that steady-handed or practiced, it probably didn’t turn out as well as a professional manicure.

Luckily, we have come a LONG way since then when it comes to options for different types of DIY manicures.

As nail salons shut down following the COVID-19 pandemic, many people started experimenting with DIY nails at home. Salons have reopened, but, like me, many have fallen in love with at-home nail treatments. Not only is it much more affordable than the salon, but there are SO many options on the market now. From press-ons to acrylics, you can now do any of these DIY manicures at home with the right instructions and a little practice.

In terms of general steps and procedures for an at-home manicure, nail care is essentially the same. Keeping your nails trimmed and shaped and your cuticles healthy and moisturized is always important. Where these manicures differ is in the color application process and other details.

As a beauty blogger and avid DIYer, I have tried basically all the DIY manicure options out there. In order of least difficult to most difficult (yet still doable with a little practice!), here are 7 options you can try for a DIY manicure at home that may make you pause before you drop $60 on a fancy manicure at the salon again.


Press-On DIY Manicure

Press-on nails are making an epic comeback, and they have come a long way since they first hit the shelves decades ago. Most press-on DIY manicure kits come with more than enough sizes to choose from and a sticky underside that stays put for a lot longer than those old school glue-on ones. There are a ton of design and style options to choose from and application is super easy. Plus, these can be filed down just like regular nails, so you can opt for whichever nail shape and length you prefer. Many drugstores now carry this DIY manicure option, but press-ons can also be found online.

Nail Care Tips

  • Clean your nails thoroughly before application to get the best results.
  • Removal will not damage natural nails, but can be a little painful if they are super sticky. Take your time with removal!


Nail Strips DIY Manicure

Nail strips are still relatively new to the DIY manicure market, but they are one of the easier options out there. Like press-ons, these usually come with plenty of size options, and they are easy to peel, apply and file. The best part about this DIY manicure option is that application is quick and there is no drying time. These strips are an easy way to get a salon-quality manicure at a fraction of the price. If you’ve never tried nail strips before, check out Color Street for easy application instructions.

Nail Care Tips

  • Be sure to push down and trim your cuticles before applying these strips. I like to soak my nails in warm water with a little cuticle oil before doing this.
  • It is not required, but you can use a regular clear/top coat over these strips to help them last longer.


Nail Polish DIY Manicure

Back to basics! Regular nail polish is another inexpensive option and does not damage your nails, meaning you can change your color as often as you want. It is also very easy to fix mistakes and touch up chips or bubbles. There are so many color options out there, and you can experiment with different designs to customize your look!

Nail Care Tips

  • If you are doing a basic nail polish manicure, be sure to invest in a quality top coat. Your top coat can really make or break the final result.
  • Applying cuticle oil after your nails are dry will help your nails look and feel healthy. I use cuticle oil every day.


Shellac DIY Manicure

Shellac manicures are sometimes called a “gel manicure” at the salon, but do not confuse these with hard gels! Shellac goes on natural nails just like regular polish and is sealed with a UV light to help it last 2 weeks or longer. While shellac can be a cheaper option at the salon, doing it at home requires a few specific tools. In my opinion, they are 100% worth the investment for a great DIY manicure. I love the high shine look of shellac, and it holds up much longer than a basic manicure. Check out my instructional YouTube video on an easy shellac DIY manicure here.

Nail Care Tips

  • Be careful when removing shellac manicures with acetone – over time, it can weaken your nails!
  • Give your nails a break in-between shellac manicures. The formula tends to thin out your nails if used too often.
  • Check out my instructional YouTube video on an easy shellac DIY manicure here.



Dip Powder DIY Manicure


Dip powder manicures are super popular right now, and for good reason. Dip powder is one of my favorite DIY manicure options because of how long they last. The powder, when combined with an activating polish, hardens quickly (without a UV light) and provides a strong manicure that can last for around a month (depending on how quickly your nails grow). After you do this DIY manicure a few times, the application becomes very easy. Learn how to do a dip powder manicure in just one minute with this video I made.


Nail Care Tips

  • Invest in a hardcore nail file for this DIY manicure. You will be shaping your nails after the dip powder hardens, so you will need a super gritty nail file!
  • Learn how to do a dip powder manicure in just one minute with this video I made.


Hard Gel DIY Manicure

This is one of the more difficult and time-consuming manicures you can do at home, but the result is pretty epic. Essentially, you are using a paintbrush to apply a very thick gel onto your nails, curing with a UV light, and then filing them down to smooth and shape your nails. There is a huge learning curve (and a steady hand necessary) with this one, but it gives you a long-lasting, durable manicure with a ton of shine. For longer nails, hard gel can be used on top of tips (glue-on nail extensions).

Nail Care Tips

  • Approach the UV light with caution. Depending on how thick your natural nails are, it can sometimes be painful for the first few seconds.
  • Be careful of how often you do this DIY manicure, as hard gel can really wear down your nails over time.


Acrylic DIY Manicure

Acrylic manicures are the most difficult to do yourself at home, but offer some of the most dramatic results. Once dipped into acrylic liquid and then dipped into acrylic powder, you use a paintbrush to essentially shape the entire nail on top of your natural nail or tips. It’s not only difficult to figure out how to get the right ratio of acrylic liquid to powder, but also pretty difficult to shape the acrylic. Despite these challenges, this became my favorite kind of manicure to do to create dramatic, long nails.

Nail Care Tips

  • No need to buy a bunch of different acrylic colors – you can paint right over these nails with regular nail polish or shellac.
  • WARNING: Acrylic liquid is very powerful and has a very strong smell. It can also irritate your eyes. When doing this DIY manicure, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area (open a window and turn on a fan!) It is also flammable – so take care when storing your supplies.
  • Before attacking this DIY manicure yourself, I would suggest watching a few videos on Kiara Sky’s Instagram (yes, I watch these when I’m bored…#satisfying) and follow instructions carefully!

Whichever method you choose to try, enjoy experimenting with DIY at-home nail care and always be sure to keep everything clean and sanitary.

About The Author

Kari Emerson

Kari Emerson is a NYC-based blogger and model. She is the writer and creator of The Important Things Blog, chronicling her experiences navigating life as a 20-something in New York City. Her goal is to help her readers attack “adulting” in a stylish and resourceful way.

Pin It on Pinterest