Advice For Doing Your Own Manicures & Nail Care

PolishingRegular manicures don’t have to be a pricey treat when done yourself.

Here are step-by-step directions to get you started along with a collection of tricks at the bottom of the page.

  • Remove old polish using remover.
  • Rest fingers in a dish of warm soapy water for about 10 minutes. For a gentle recipe, see below.
  • Use a soft brush and clean under fingernails.
  • Massage hands and cuticles with a favorite moisturizer.
  • Push back cuticles with a cotton tipped stick.
  • File fingernails into shape, keeping them all the same length.
  • Finish off with a favorite color.


Hand Soak:

1/4 cup honey
2 TBS liquid hand soap
1 TBS olive oil


  • Mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight container. Add half of mixture to a small bowl then add warm water, stirring until well mixed. Soak hands.
  • Makes enough for two treatments.

Cuticle Softener:

1 tsp Olive Oil or Jojoba Oil
1 tsp Vitamin E (oil)


  • Mix together then gently massage into cuticles.

Whitening Treatment:

1 TBS Hydrogen Peroxide
1 cup warm water


  • Dip fingers in mixture for 15 minutes two times a week until nails are white and then once a week to maintain.

First Published: February 9, 2007, moved here for better organization


Kate sent this in wondering if it was true, it’s an old clipping she found in her aunt’s binder:

Just pick a favorite drink and stir in Knox Gelatine

Brittle fingernails? Correct them the one way published medical research proved effective . . .

Drink one envelope of Knox Gelatine each day in fruit or vegetable juice, bouillon or water.

Published clinical studies show how with this Knox Drink at least 7 out of 10 women restored brittle nails to normal condition within 90 days.

I have notes that say eating lots of Jello helps or drinking Knox daily will help, but never posted that here on Tipnut after I did a bit of research and found this on Wikipedia:

For decades, gelatin has been touted as a good source of protein. It has also been said to strengthen nails and hair. However, there is little scientific evidence to support such an assertion, one which may be traced back to Knox’s revolutionary marketing techniques of the 1890s, when it was advertised that gelatin contains protein and that lack of protein causes dry, deformed nails. In fact, the human body itself produces abundant amounts of the proteins found in gelatin. Furthermore, dry nails are usually due to a lack of moisture, not protein.

So it looks like the answer to the question is: Nope, gelatin does not help them grow or grow stronger/healthier.

Honey Cuticle Cream: Made with beeswax, apricot kernel oil, honey and then poured into an altoids tin or other suitable container.

Toothpaste Trick: Yellowing a problem? Try scrubbing with whitening toothpaste and a brush.
Quick Dry: Advises to keep hands submerged in ice water for 3 minutes. Neat to know!

Removing Polish: In 5 minutes or less! A step-by-step tutorial.
Tea Bag Repair: Broken tip? Here’s how to fix that up with a tea bag.

Smudge Proof: Lightly mist a fresh coat with cooking spray.
Paper Hole Reinforcements: Use these to achieve a perfect french manicure.

Clever Technique: A clever way to do artistic designs.
Whitening Soak: Here’s another recipe similar to the one above, this one uses baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Clean Up In 6 Easy Steps: A technique using a small paint brush and acetone.
Affordable Wipes: Make DIY wipes by cutting felt into squares (cheap!).

Moisturizing Remover: Here’s a recipe using acetone and glycerin.
Custom Colors: Here’s how to mix colors using powdered eyeshadow and clear polish.

Professional Secrets: Here’s a tutorial showing how to give yourself a professional looking manicure.
Foil Trick: Each finger is covered with soaked cotton ball then wrapped in foil.

Peel Off Base Coat Easily: Here’s a nifty trick using Elmer’s School Glue.

Related Posts


    • nancy s

    Regarding the gelatin issue, we learned in college nutrition class that gelatin is an incomplete protein, that is lacking in all the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair of cells and tissues. Therefor, unable to ‘grow’ stronger, healthier nails. Animal protein contains all essential amino acids, therefor promoting growth and repair of tissues as well as a myriad of other functions. Hope this sheds some more light on the subject.

    • Lori S

    Unless it says “vegan” on the box, gelatin is made from crushed animal skin. We found gluten-free, vegan jello made by Natural Desserts at Whole Foods. It contains no artificial colors or flavors. Thought people might want to know.

    • Anna

    I have had brittle nails for years. Since I reched my 50th birthday I have been taking more calcium. I now have lovely strong nails. Coincidence or not, I intend to keep taking the calcium

    • TipNut

    This tip was sent in by Carol:

    Here’s another great tip for beautiful finger nails: Massage Olive Oil around the cuticle bed and over entire nail nightly …guaranteed in a short time you will see beautiful while nails and no more unsightly hangnails!!

    thanks a bunch Carol!

    • Shawn

    Gelatin is actually made from the bones.

    • Joyce

    For years I have been plagued by thin, soft and peeling fingernails. Nothing I tried seemed to make much difference including gelatin. I have been taking biotin capsules for several months now and have seen a big improvement in the strength of my nails. Also in how fast they grow.

    • Donna

    I don’t care what ‘science’ says about gelatin not working for nails. The proof is in my nails. I have the worse nails in the world, and the only way I can grow them at all is when I am taking gelatin regularly. I have gone off and on it for testing and other reasons (it takes months, each time, of course, because of the slow growth of nails). Each time I have been off the gelatin my nails start to crack, break, split, and I have to keep them cut down to the skin. After a couple of months on gelatin, I once again have long healthy nails. The difference is night and day. There is no question about it!

      • Mayme

      I have had the same experience! My nails are nice and strong if I take two beef gelatin capsules a day. It does take awhile for you to see the difference, months, but it works. My guess is that I am missing something in my diet that is in the beef gelatin. I am not a big meat eater.

    • susie

    Ditto! Scientific or not, I tried the OJ and Knox gelatin as a last resort to my problem nails and now they are gorgeous. I have never had strong nails before. I eat plenty of protein, moisturize, do not abuse my nails but they always have been brittle, split, weak, etc. Now, strong and long.

    No explanation, but half a glass of OJ with one packet of Knox gelatin per day did the trick. I am going to the store to buy my second box now!

    • Minnie

    For over 30 years my friend and I have been taking 2 capsules of MSM. It is the product that is used on horses hoves (sp?). Not only do I have very strong nails… hands and feet… but my joints do not ache. My friend has had rheumutoid arthritis in her knees since birth.. she started taking MSM daily and now she has no knee pain. I just take the plain MSM… no Glucosime or Condriten (sp?) My husband also takes it… we believe in it. There are books on the market about this

      • Kerry

      One doesn’t have “rheumatoid arthritis in her knees.” Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disorder that attacks the entire body, not just one or two joints, and MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin are useless against it. Osetoarthritis, on the other hand, can affect one or two joints, and there is some anecdotal evidence that MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin may help it. The two, though, are so very different, and misinformation hurts us all.

    • Kat

    Quick tip: to have a longer lasting polish job, always clean nails with polish remover (preferably acetone) right before polishing. Use a base coat, polish, then top coat. For an extra few days, reapply top coat every other day, making sure to cover ends of nails, too.

    • SereneBee

    I, too, have had success with gelatine re: nails but please what’s MSM? I’d like to try it for my osteoarthritc knees plus my left elbow.

    • Mary

    Biotin is one of the keys to strong nails. I use the liquid gels 5000 mg that I can get at Walgreens – 1 every day. They look like little pink or white footballs. It is amazing how hard and strong my nails are and how fast they grow. They use to peel all the time, but no longer. I have used powdered Biotin, but the liquid gels work much better.

    • Котенце

    I know a solution for strengthening brittle nails and helping them grow but I doubt many people would be willing to utilize it because of the appearance of nails during treatment. I will post it just in case…

    Every night before bed, for 2-6 weeks, cover your nails, including cuticles and under the nail tip, with iodine. This can be done for any time period really but results are noticeable after a month or so. I would suggest wearing gloves or wrapping your fingers while you sleep because the iodine stains a yellowish-orange. Here is the catch, that yellowish-orange stain doesn’t wash out of skin for a week or so. Your fingers will be stained yellow and not very pleasant to look at. The results are worth it if you can withstand the month.

    • Charlotte Brown

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. I completely agree with you that a healthy lifestyle and skin care routine reflects on your skin so it is necessary to take good care of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *