Best Tools for an At-Home Manicure

By Tara Thompson Rasmus

Despite the fact that I’ve always been a lover of all things beauty, I’ve never quite hopped on the professional mani-pedi train. I know that there are some women who thrive on the efficiency of the super-rushed, in-and-out NYC salon experience, but I usually find the whole thing uncomfortable, cramped, and bizarre. I usually sense that the nail technician kind of hates me and my imperfectly-exfoliated feet. Siting in one spot with your hands in another woman’s hands without anything to do is just…strange. And, when it’s all done, I end up essentially held hostage for what seems like days until my new varnish is perfectly dry. By the time the whole ordeal is over, I usually want to bolt out screaming, newly-shiny tips waving in the wind. Freedom!

To me, the only way that a mani-pedi is actually relaxing is when I do it myself. At home, I can take exactly as much time as I’d like to choose my color (and even run my choice by my husband — I have no idea why, but he likes helping me choose polish colors!). I can exfoliate and buff myself without enduring judgment. And, once I’m perfectly polished, I can lounge on my own couch to my heart’s content without enduring the chatter of five other women. Ah, bliss. If you’re also looking to master the at-home spa experience, I’ve rounded up everything you’ll need to build your perfect DIY mani-pedi kit — you’ll feel like a pro soon, I promise!

image via vogue mexico from FW13 Narciso Rodriguez


Julep Crystal Nail File

My at-home nail routine got a major upgrade when I ditched the flimsy disposable nail files for this serious slougher. This file is sturdy and effective, and shapes nails without tearing or abusing the nails — which is the whole point, right?

Sephora Collection Cuticle Nipper

A good-quality cuticle nipper is key, although I admit that I use this mostly for hangnails, and simply push my cuticles back with the blunt end of my Julep Nail File most of the time.

Tweezerman Nail Clipper Set

A nail clipper set with one for nails, and one for toes. Obvious, but somehow I find this satisfying little set to be pretty genius. Toss your old, half-broken clippers and replace them with this top-quality pair.

Neat Feet Callus Remover

For $1.89 ($1.89!) you can have endless exfoliating sessions with that pretty pair of tootsies you have. I love these things, especially in the summertime when the NYC sidewalks do a serious number on my feet.

Revlon Multi Care Base + Top Coat

I love this all-in-one base and top coat that nourishes nails, preps them for polish, and protects polish from UV rays. Easy-peasy.

Seche Vite Top Coat

As much as I love my combo base/top coat, however, I have been seriously obsessed with this amazing top coat lately. It completely dries your polish super-duper-fast (seriously, no smudges to be seen, ever), leaves them with the glossiest finish ever, and helps your manicure last for up to a week. Hey, it’s a cult classic for a reason.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Nail Polish in Gryphon

And, of course, the last and most fun addition to your at-home mani kit: your favorite polish! I have been loving this grey pick this month. It’s an opaque cement gray with just a hint of sky blue, which makes it a fun, slightly edgy take on your typical winter neutral. Tell me what your signature nail shade of the moment is in the comments below!