With a bit of practice and the right tools, you can easily save yourself $20-30 for a manicure at the nail salon.

What You Will Need

* Acetone-free nail polish remover
* Emery board
* Cuticle cream/oil
* Cuticle Nipper
* Orange stick
* Warm water in a bowl
* Base Coat
* Your favorite nail polish
* Top Coat

Basic How To

1. Start off by wiping any remaining traces of nail polish with an acetone-free nail polish remover.

2. File with an emery board so that edges are smooth and round. File towards the tip and only in one direction. Never file too deeply on the sides.

3. Apply a cuticle oil/cream to each nail.

4. Soak your fingertips in a bowl of warm water for five to ten minutes. You can also add in scented oils or salt. This will help soften the cuticles and remove any filing dust.

5. Gently scrub your nails with an old toothbrush and push back cuticles with an orange stick.

6. Using a cuticle nipper, gently remove all dead skin working around the nail.

7. Buff your nails to file the ridges and to add shine. Again, buff in one direction.

8. Apply a base coat to protect your nails from chemicals and help make your nail polish last longer. Do one stroke down the center of the nail then one on the right and one on the left.

9. Before you apply your nail polish, roll the bottle between your palms for a few seconds to warm it up for easier application. Paint the nail in three strokes – one down the center and two on the sides. Be careful not to paint the cuticle. Repeat with a second coat but make sure to let nails completely between coats.

10. Finish with a top coat and remember to cover the top edges of the nail to maximize protection. Let your nails dry for as long as you can. Follow up with a cuticle oil daily and touch up the edges and add an entire coat of top coat if the polish starts wearing off.

I picked up these babies at Meijer the other week. They were on sale for like $1.89 each! I got the following three:

Lasting Finish Lycra Wear Nail Polish in Black Satin – a true black with a creamy texture. I wore this for like a week and only had to do another coat after 4 days.

60 Seconds Vinyl Shine in Pulsating – a shiny hot pink with a tad of magenta. I have been wearing this for almost a week and there is barely any chipping. Thumbs up!

60 Seconds Vinyl Stars in Star Kissed – a pretty shimmery baby pink color with glitter that looks *so* pretty in the bottle. I still have not tried this but I can’t wait to do so. *Updates: I finally tested this and I did not like it at all. It is too gritty and does not go on as smooth (I blame the glitter). It also chipped pretty fast compared to the other two. I will not purchase this again.

Overall, I am really surprised at how good these nail polishes were. They are very true to the color and the texture is perfect – it is not too thick nor too watery. I only have to apply one coat and I’m good to go. Plus their longevity is amazing! I have never worn nail polish that stayed on for so long without chipping much and trust me, I have tried loads (Maybelline, Revlon, Red Earth, OPI, Essie, MAC etc.) I would definitely pick up more of these next time I go to the drugstore.

In the last few years, gel nails have no doubt become one of the biggest hot shots in the nail industry and I can totally see why.

With a similar chemical nature with acrylics, gels come pre-mixed in the form of a gel and are then painted thinly onto the surface of the nails before each layer is cured under an ultra-violet lamp. Gel nails also claim to be natural-looking, thin, clear, non-yellowing, non-porous, odorless and resist lifting.