While I love having bright polish on my toes, I can’t remember the last time I painted my fingernails. It was probably back in Caroline’s budding nail technician days when she slathered 8 different colors all over my hands. Yeah, that was fun.
After reading that Sarah Jessica Parker gets her nails buffed instead of polished, I started asking for that on the rare occasion that I get a manicure. It was perfect—my nails stayed shiny way longer than I expected, and I wasn’t picking at the polish in two days or dealing with yellow nails. Now I do an easy no-polish manicure at home.
Then I had another epiphany after my last manicure. A week after having my cuticles trimmed, my nails were a total wreck. The cuticles were a jagged mess as they grew back.
Less definitely seems like more (I also keep my nails crazy short), so I developed a simple at-home nail maintenance plan that has kept my nails happy. Here’s how!
- Hand lotion (coconut oil is awesome!)
- Orange cuticle stick or a metal one wrapped in cotton
- Nail file
- Buffing block
- Cuticle oil
5 Steps to a No-Polish Manicure:
This is totally easy to do while catching up on your favorite shows (I just discovered Mad Men on demand, hurrah!).
1. Soften with lotion
Slather on a healthy amount of hand lotion. More is better. Let it sit for a few minutes to soften everything. And if you don’t have coconut oil, you can add a bit of olive oil to your regular lotion.
To me, this is way easier and more effective than soaking my hands in warm water or milk. Believe it or not, moisturizing the nails and surrounding skin frequently can help strengthen the nails.
Soaking hands can get a little messy, too—I love giving my hands a super thorough, relaxing massage while watching a movie! This is something you can do every couple of nights as well, to stop hands from getting too dry and the cuticles from getting too raggedy.
2. Push back cuticles
Use the cuticle stick to gently push back your cuticles. Go easy here—no need to get aggressive as this may cause damage to the nail plate!
And I don’t attempt to cut my own cuticles. I find that they stay in better shape and don’t grow as fast if I leave them alone. Pushing them in also leaves your cuticles’ natural shape intact and looking tidy for longer.
3. Shape nails
Snip any hangnails, and shape the nails with a nail file. A rounded shape looks good on short nails; plus, it means you don’t have any hard corners that are more likely to chip.
If you don’t have one already, a crystal nail file is amazing for filing nails down neatly and not leaving any rough edges.
Also, always remember to file in one direction instead of sawing back and forth—this helps to stop nails from breaking as quickly!
4. Buff nails
My buffing block is my new favorite thing. Your smooth and shiny nails will last for days. I love that they stay super shiny while looking tidier than just plain natural nails!
And if you’re just buffing, there’s no need to worry about any chips—even a clear top coat will chip, leaving nails looking a little weird and uneven after a while.
5. Brush on cuticle oil
End by dabbing on cuticle oil and massaging it in. I like to pop a bit of oil, like olive or sweet almond, into a cuticle oil pen to keep with me—it’s really handy to stash a few at my desk, on my bedside, and in my bag, so my cuticles (and nails) stay hydrated and strong. No peely cuticles here!
How do you take care of your nails? Are you a nail polish or a natural girl?
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Rina Mary Allawh, M.D., a dermatologist who practices adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer treatment, and cosmetic dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana Stanciu347