How to perform a traditional or Russian manicure at home with gel nail polish

by Anastasia Julia
How to perform a manicure 
You can keep your hands stunning without visiting a nail salon. We will explain how to perform a traditional and Russian manicure step by step at home and achieve a beautiful outcome. Find which nail tools you will need below. You don't have to limit your nail art to a single gel polish. Even if your artistic skills aren’t the best, you can still create a beautiful manicure.
Which types of manicures can be done at home
The “cut” manicure remains the most popular and effective way to perform cuticle removal. The dead skin around the nails is cut off with a cuticle cutter of some type. It is important that they are professional cuticle scissors or nippers, to help with the smoothness of the cuticle as well as the potential for injury. In addition, a sharp cutting tool will allow you to perform the manicure faster.
For those with health concerns (mycoses and diabetes etc.) or those who do not wish to cut the cuticle an unedged manicure at home is another option (skip all parts about using any cuticle cutter) To remove dead skin without cuticle nippers or scissors there are specialize cuticle remove liquids. 
Another salon procedure that is increasingly being done at home is called a Russian Manicure. For its implementation, an efile or NAIL DRILL machine is required (always seek professional instruction before any manicure but especially with a Russian manicure) It performs the following functions:
  • Removal of cuticle
  • Gel polish removal
  • Buffing and polishing nails
  • Nail shaping
The nail drill is equipped with a handle that NAIL DRILL BITS fit into and those bits rotate at high rpm to act as the cuticle cutter.  The size or shape of the bit as well as the speed of rotation are selected depending on the tasks. For owners of delicate, damaged skin, as well as too fast-growing cuticles, a nail drill is an excellent choice. 
How to prepare for a manicure
First you need to wash your hands and remove the old gel polish. Even if the old polish coating has no defects, it is recommended to remove it. You can remove the polish by either soaking it off or using a carbide drill bit to remove the existing polish. Remember if you have extensions and the builder gel is fine you can back fill. 
The next step is to prepare everything you need:
  • Nail tools for edged manicure (or a special product for removal)
  • towel
  • a bowl of warm water to steam the skin (if you are planning to cut the cuticle using cuticle scissors or nippers)
  • sea salt and liquid soap
To  correctly complete a manicure at home, you will need CUTICLE OIL to nourish the skin after you have finished. Cocoa or shea butter is also suitable as they have a regenerating, protective and soothing effect.
After the manicure is finished, it is necessary to disinfect the nail tools. Using a disinfecting liquid of some sort and heat treatment are recommend. 
Perfect white Russian pedicure with gel nail polish
Tools for your manicure or pedicure at home
Before you decide to skip the salon, you should purchase quality tools. A beautiful manicure at home is best when using sharp, professional tools, which should include:
  • Cuticle nippers (or cuticle scissors)  which are made of medical alloy, have smooth operation, and remain sharp for a long time and sit comfortably in the hand. Such characteristics will ensure an effective and excellent result of a manicure.
  • Cuticle pusher - a metal tool, which has a thin handle, often one side has a spatula and the other a sharpened scraper. The skin is “pushed” with the spatula, and the keratinized cuticle is cut off with the scraper. 
  • Nail clipper - used for cutting nails that can be either traditional or shaped like a NIPPER. It is indispensable for manicure or short nails because it makes the cut even which prevents delamination and formation of nicks on the plate.
  • Nail file - designed to smooth the shape of nails. Grits of 180 or 250 are recommended for working with natural nails.
  • Orange sticks - not always used, but it is very useful to have it on hand, because it can be useful both in trimming, and in unedged manicures, and while creating nail art. With a stick, you can push back the cuticle, remove it after softening, clean the inner surface of the plate, and gently apply sparkles or nail decals. In some cases, such a tool is preferable to a metal one, since it does not damage the surface of the nail or products.
There are not only useful nail tools for a manicure at home, but also harmful ones. One of these is a fork. A forked small blade often leaves “wounds” on the fingers, as it cuts off not only dead skin, but also living. Such a tool is is easily replaced by tweezers, cuticle pushers and cuticle cutters. 
Also a warning regarding the type of nail file selected - if the grit is not marked on it, then you should not buy it. Most likely, this is a very rough file that will not be able to accurately smooth, shape and remove nail which can cause delamination.
When doing a manicure at home, remember that it is best for dry nails to be worked on with a file. A wet nail or file creates too much flexibility, so you won't get a neat, perfect cut. There is also a risk of breaking off the edge of the plate. Buffers can also only process dry nails, this will allow you to get an extremely smooth and shiny surface that won’t be harmed.  
Step-by-step manicure at home with cuticle nipper or cuticle scissors
The manicure includes the following steps:
  • “Steaming” - the hand should be put in a warm bath for at least 5 minutes.  Add soothing salts or essential oils if you’d like)
  • remove hands and fingers from water and dry
  • Use an orange stick or cuticle pusher to push back the cuticle
  • remove the cuticle layer that is fused with the plate. A sharpened edge of the pusher will work best.
  • gently cut off the cuticle with nippers or scissors. This is best to perform while “steamed”  
Perform this on every finger. If you do not intend to add any gel polish then add cuticle oil and you are finished! 
A Russian manicure for beginners at home without cuticle removal
When you want to perform a dry manicure, without using cuticle nippers you can skip the hand bath. In addition, the set of tools is significantly different. Nail drill bits are required.
At home Russian manicure
How to perform a Russian manicure at home
First start by carefully removing the keratinized epidermis (skin attached to the nail) from the base of the nail plate. From there you will use your desired shape to slightly lift the dead cuticle at the base of the nail. The manicure continues by removing the dead skin with a nail bit (normally ball shaped), which will remove the layer of dead cells of the cuticle and make the fingers soft. Next, wash your hands and treat the plates with a degreasing agent, such as alcohol. This will provide a stronger grip for when you apply gel nail polish.
Always get training when you are using nail drill bits. These items are dangerous and can cause serious harm. For a more in depth look at What is a Russian manicure from our blog.
How to model the shape of your at home manicure
Nail modeling is very important to your manicure, it helps to make the perfect look. The nail shape can visually lengthen fingers and help make your hands look stunning. On the other side, insufficient attention to the shape can make the manicure ugly. If you manage to perfectly apply gel polish at home, but the nails misshaped and asymmetrical, then you might have wasted your time by creating something you don’t love.
To start with shaping trim your nails starting from the middle and working towards the shortest.
A bit more about shapes:
  • Oval: Versatile, Suits both thin and wide fingers. It can be done with long or short. Strong shape
  • Circle: For short nails, characterized by special strength, good for everyday use. Looks great on larger hands. Makes hands look clean and classy.
  • Square: Shape is vulnerable to chipping, therefore it requires accuracy in everyday life, not ideal for short wide fingers. But if the cuticle has a square shape, then it can be recommended for this shape.  
  • Almond: Looks good on thin hands and long fingers. On large hands, it emphasizes the flaws. This option isn’t as durable, so strong mechanical stress should be avoided.
Beautiful Russian nails with red gel nail polish
How to make your gel manicure at home last
  1. Always use a gel base coat and gel top coat.
  2. Before applying the base or builder gel, make sure the plate is buffed and cleaned.
  3. Never apply more than 3 coats of gel polish to avoid bulking.
  4. Do not shake too aggressively to avoid bubbles. Better to roll the bottle to mix.
  5. Take your time; each coat should be smooth and even.
  6. To ensure that the cuticles retains its original smoothness, generously apply a cuticle oil before going to bed. It will care for your skin and protect the polish.
  7. Store your products in a cool dry place before use.
How to apply gel nail polish at home
The popularity of gel polish is due to its practicality. Gel nail polish remains intact for 3+ weeks. And today even beginners can perform gel manicures at home, because everything you need for the procedure is available in many specialized stores:
  • lamp (LED or UV) – Required to “dry” completely;
  • primer - a tool that degreases the nail and promotes reliable fixation of the gel or builder gel.
  • base – creates strength and makes it perfect to apply your gel polish.
  • Gel colors: Wide range of shades for anything you want, you can choose a tone for every style.
  • Gel top coat: The final coating that provides strength and structure.
  • Buff: a special nail file or bit that levels the nail plate.
Special training for manicure at home is not required but is recommended. Most of the tools listed can hurt your nail plates if not used correctly.