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 Stanciu450
The graphic with the long polished nails was a weird and off-putting choice for natural nail care.
Paulette Woolums says
Would you mind letting us know the brand of your buffing block is, or where to get it?
Thank you so much for the great information. 😍
Vancouver Pedicure says
Thanks for sharing such a great tip for nails as nails is best part which women likes to make it more attractive besides making it they need various supplies for making it as you can’t imagine to make it without proper supplies.
My friend got me a buffing block for my birthday. I don’t think I’ve put it down since. I absolutely love the way it makes my nails shiny.
Oh… I’m so going to try this tomorrow!!
Thanks so much for sharing at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!! :)
I need to do this to my nails! I always have my toes done but my fingernails get neglected… I like the natural look!
Oooh sounds luxurious! I think it’s time for a manicure!!
Thinking of you often with Gerber baby coming soon! Can’t wait to hear the good news when it’s time! Yay!
Mrs. K says
Great post and idea. As a musician and visual artist, I keep my nails quite short as well. I use coconut oil to cleanse and moisturize my skin (as well as cooking and a supplement) and have for years, so I know how good it is. I stopped using shampoo about three and a half weeks ago – just baking soda and a vinegar rinse twice a week, and use the tiniest dab of CO, rubbed into my hands, on the ends of my hair – excellent conditioner! The added plus, besides how great nails, skin, and hair will look, is that this is SO much healthier than all the chemicals-laden commercial products. Eat some coconut oil – it does a great job inside and out!
I need to do this. I DO polish my nails, but I use Scotch Naturals and your nails need to be in really good shape for it to stick. Mine aren’t. I think with a few weeks of this, I might actually be able to keep nail polish on my nails for more than a day or two!
I’m so obsessed with Mad Men. :)
My nails are usually a mess of chipped polish, so a buffing manicure sounds far more practical!
yes! when I just want a simple shine I absolutely LOVE buffing my nails!
I need to start using my coconut oil for moisturizer though. My hands are awfully dry!
Sigrid Rogowski says
Again another great post. Stephanie you always have excellent ideas.
Great idea, I actually just painted my nails for the first time in what seems like years! I get manicures every now and then for special occassions but I really should take better care of them hands. Thanks for the tips!
What a fab post, I have been wondering if I was the only no polish, short nails girl in the world!! I must get a nail buffer!
visiting from Someday crafts
I love this post! I don’t have any cuticle oil, but I do have everything else. I’ll have to give it s shot. I love pretty looking fingernails, but I’m kinda terrible at it.
Tonia @TheGunnySack says
Sound delightful! I need to take a little time to do this for myself!
haven’t heard of the coconut oil trick
will have to give it a go
This is so awesome! I need to do this asap actually. :) Thanks for sharing your pretty nails!
Thanks so much! I love shiny fingernails without the polish. I like your natural do it at home manicure. I will have to try that soon.