From manicures to removing gels, how to do your nails at home during lockdown

With the nation in lockdown many of us are coming to realise that we’ll have to tackle our beauty routines ourselves – something that is challenging when most heavily rely on salons for haircuts, waxing and nail treatments.

Last week, we asked professionals how to cut hair at home, but now it’s the turn of our talons.

Nails have always been a beauty focal point, but demand for professional nail treatments has sky-rocketed over recent years – thanks to beauty influencers such as Kylie Jenner sporting picture-perfect claws on every occasion.

So how do you keep up your nail routine now the salons are closed? 

We asked the celebrity nail technician Michelle Humphrey to share her secrets to a perfect at-home mani – as well as tips on removing gel and acrylic nails.

DIY manicure

All of us now have a lot more time on their hands, so an at-home manicure is a great way to brush up on those nail-painting skills.

Michelle says there are some simple things to remember, to achieve a salon-worthy look at home.

She says: ‘Cut and file nails into desired shape. Then gently buff the nail plate and wipe clean with a cotton pad soaked in acetone-based nail polish remover. This will remove any excess oil and dust which is important for product adhesion.’

Michelle advises to always use a base coat when painting nails, as it anchors the colour down and prevents chipping.

She adds: ‘Paint your chosen colour in two thin coats and try to cover every part of the nail plate without going onto the skin. A top coat will protect and seal your polish and will also help to prevent chips.’

A drying spray does exactly what it says on the tin and can speed up the process. Michelle adds that oiling cuticles when nails are ‘touch dry’, will help to keep your hands looking healthy.

Shellac/Gel removal

For those who visited a nail salon earlier this month and are now unable to get their Shellac or gel nails removed professionally, fear not, the process can be done at home.

Michelle says there’s one very important think to remember when it comes to DIY removal – and that’s buffing.

She says: ‘If removal at home is necessary, begin by buffing the top coat off your gels – if you don’t buff them first you’ll find removal an absolute nightmare.’

Anyone looking to do it at home will need three products – cotton wool, an acetone-based nail polish remover and foil.

Michele adds: ‘Soak off using cotton wool saturated in acetone and foils, gently push off any gel that’s come loose using an orange wood stick, re-wrap if necessary, make sure you keep the cotton saturated in remover.

‘This process will probably take 30-45 minutes to do yourself. Never force any product off the nail plate.’

Acrylic removal

For those who are fretting about grown-out acrylics, Michelle says there’s a simple way to take them off at home.

All you need is two big bowls and two small bowls (such as ramekins), acetone, warm water and a wooden nail stick – but make sure the bowls are ceramic or glass as plastic ones could melt.

Michelle says: ‘Begin by protecting any surfaces as acetone can damage such as countertops or tables. Then file the surface of your enhancements, if they have gel polish over the top I would recommend getting most of it off or your soak off will take longer.

‘Once that’s done, place the two smaller bowls into two larger bowls, pour warm water into the larger bowls to surround the smaller ones and create some warmth (as the heat speeds up removal). 

‘Pour your acetone into the smaller bowls and soak nails – you can cover your hands with a towel to keep the heat in and help stop the acetone evaporating.’

Michelle then advises to push the product off as it breaks down, using a wooden nail stick. Afterwards, pop it back in the acetone to remove further bits, and repeat until all of it is off. Then buff to finish and smooth.

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