How I Prep for an At-Home Manicure…and Clue #1

Published in: Connor Claire Store, Makeup Tips/How To, Nails

Wearing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish in Lemon Heaven; iPhone case from

Wearing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish in Lemon Heaven (and there’s a clue in this pic about…)

So you know that super secret squirrel project I’ve been talking about and working on and hinting at for a while?

Well, this is the first official clue! — and it may or may not have something to do with pineapples…


Stay tuned this week for more hints and clues. I’ve been working very hard on this project for months, and I really think you’ll like it. It all takes place at, where you can sign up, and I hope you do.

Now, let’s talk nails. πŸ™‚

How I Prep for an At-Home Manicure

Hell, yeah, I do my own nails at home, although I do like to make it rain on occasion at the nail salon, because I don’t like to deal with my toes.

You don’t want to deal with my toes; I don’t want to deal with my toes; so sometimes I will go to a nail salon to have somebody else deal with my toes.

But seriously, nails. Come on, do them at home! It’s fun and easy, and here’s my nail-prep-at-home process. This is how I get my paws ready to paint.

1. Shower

I start by taking a shower (or soaking my nails), which moisturizes everything and loosens things up, including whatever nail polish I might be wearing.

It makes my nails soft and supple and less likely to split when I clip/file them.

nail soak

2. Remove any existing nail polish

Right after my shower I remove my old polish using Essie Naturally Clean Purifying Polish Remover ($6 for a 4-oz. bottle), which I love because it werks (even with glitters), and it doesn’t dry out my nails or smell bad (kind of important).

I thoroughly soak a makeup remover pad, then press and hold it on the nail for about 30 seconds before pushing and pulling it down, and the nail polish slides right off.


3. Use nail clippers

Next I clip my nails with these Tweezerman Clippers ($11 for two in a set) because they cut cleanly and never split my nails.

nails tweezerman clippers

4. File

Then I use a crystal file, and I love this Crystal File by Nailtek ($16.50), to smooth out any rough edges.

If you don’t have one, a crystal nail file might seem expensive, especially compared to emory boards, but they last years! I think the Nailtek one is the best, and it’s well worth the investment.


5. Apply cuticle oil

After filing I apply CND Solar Oil ($8.50) to my cuticles to help the overall look of my nails…because I don’t want my cuticles looking raggedy and distracting from my polish.

nails cnd solar oil

6. Clip any stray bits

Next, I use the Beauty 360 Comfort Hold Quarter Jaw Cuticle Nipper ($14.99).

I don’t cut my cuticles, but I do trim any stray bits of skin that hang off the edges, again, so they’re aren’t distracting.

nails trim

7. Remove any remaining product residue

This is when I use Sephora Formula X Nail Cleanser ($10.50) to remove any remaining residues, like from lotions or anything.

You don’t want anything left on your nails when you go to paint them because that’ll help your polish adhere better.

nails formula x nail cleaner

8. PAINT!!!

Or, rather, apply your base coat (if you want to use one to help your polish last longer), and I like Sephora Formula X Prime ($10.50).


THEN paint your nails. After that I finish with OPI Top Coat ($10).

nails lemon heaven 2

And that’s what I do to get my nails ready to paint. I’d love to hear what you do for yours. πŸ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 32 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Allison C says:

    I’m a very impressed! That is such a professional process compared to what I do. I don’t use clippers on my nails, or a nipper or cleanser. But I do want to get myself a glass file – I keep forgetting to buy one when I’m on Amazon coz I never see them at CVS.

  2. Danielle L says:

    What a tease! I’m so excited to see what’s in store for! I subscribed right away! Can’t wait to support your new venture, Karen. I wish you much success!

    Also…desperately need a mani! I usually do my own too (except my toes – they are too far away for me to do a good job, not to mention how tiny they are). I recently moved into a building with a nail salon on the main floor, so the temptation to pay someone to do them is oh so real. Then I look at how many nail polishes I have and I feel all the guilt!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Danielle,

      Thank you! I’ve been working on it for what feels like FOREVER and can’t wait to share it. I hope you like it!

      So… nails. You know what I do when I go in for a pedicure? I bring my own nail products! Yup, I take a base coat, color, top coat, drying drops… I even bring in my own tools. Sounds cray but I’m kind of a control freak like that, LOL. Maybe bring your polishes when you decide to hit up the salon? If there was one next to me I’d be so tempted to go every week.

  3. The nail cleanser is news to me! I might have to pick that up sometime in the near future…
    Love the clue! That pineapple is just too adorable. Can’t wait to hear more about the project and!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shannon,

      When I’m in big hurry I skip it, but when I do have time I find that it makes a difference. I tried it first in a set from Sephora and got hooked!

      Oh, and thanks for the nice comment on the pineapple. Did you know that they grow on the ground? For the longest time I thought they grew on trees.

  4. Chelsea says:

    That’s such a pretty color!

    Have you ever done one of the glove masks? They’re kind of fun. I need to do some hand and foot TLC tonight, this gives me some ideas.

    • Karen says:

      It makes me so happy when I see it on my nails. Thank goodness for yellow polish!

      OK, so glove masks… I’ve put lotion on my hands and then slipped them into soft gloves, but I don’t think I’ve done a glove mask. Is it a one-use kind of thing like a sheet mask? Now I’m so curious!

      • Chelsea says:

        Yup! Sephora has a few, the three versions I’ve tried were all really nice, about $5 each.

        Getting ready to pick QB up from his molar trim. He’s been out of the anesthesia for a while, so I’m sure he’s getting lots of pets from everyone at the vet (he’s quite popular, as you can imagine)

  5. Agata says:

    Is it a line of accessories maybe??? A clothing line?? I cannot wait to know what it is!!

    My nail routine is very similar to yours, in fact! I hate doing my toes though, it always seems to take forever.
    Agata recently posted … Are Beauty Subscriptions Boxes Worth The Money??

    • Karen says:

      Hi Agata,

      Stay tuned to find out! I really hope you like it… I’ve been working on it for months now.

      I feel the same way you do about toes. They’re SO NOT fun to deal with, LOL!

  6. Chris25 says:

    How do you like the CND oil? I’m looking for a new cuticle oil.
    Chris25 recently posted … The Organic Pharmacy Organic Glam Bronzer in Light Bronze

  7. Amber says:

    So excited about the new site! I see the Connor Claire logo on that phone case! Very sneaky…;) Signed up and can’t wait to see!
    I too love a good crystal nail file. Great mani tips!

  8. Syah says:

    Subscribed to Connor!! πŸ™‚

    I love the bowl in the beginning πŸ™‚
    Syah recently posted … Sewing Class at The Cutting Room

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Syah! The bowl is a part of a set I got from HomeGoods. I use them as my spring/summer dishes. Soon it’ll be time for the fall ones, ahhh!

  9. Tatiana says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the crystal nail file. I had one from Nordstrom that I loved, but this past weekend when I pulled it out to do my nails it was all in bits in the case. I must have dropped it or something because it was just the handle end and then a whole lot of crushed pieces.
    I use CNC Solar oil too, but lately I’ve been looking into Bliss Kiss nail oil. Not sure if it’s any better, but I’m willing to give it a try. Especially since my nails are super dry and peeling right now.
    I don’t usually soak my nails and for some reason I always remove my polish before I shower. I think I like the idea of the shower washing away the acetone residue that might be left on my nails.
    Looking forward to seeing what’s up with

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome. The Nailtek one is THE BEST I’ve ever tried. I’ve had several and none of them compare. Great thing about it is it should last you roughly until forever, LOL!

      Did you get to visit with your horse last weekend?

      Oh, and by the way, thank you so much for suggesting using a cold washcloth for teething. I did that for Connor Claire today and she was a very happy camper. πŸ˜ƒ

      • Tatiana says:

        Oh yeah! I’m glad the cold washcloth worked. I dunno what it was but my baby girl hated those plastic things.
        Didn’t see the horse. My daughter drove out with one of her work friends, so I thought I’d leave them to it. As much as I love her hanging out with us, she’s a bit of an introvert and I would prefer she made more good friends.

  10. Leah Rose says:

    Filing is something I always skip, feels so gross but it makes a huge difference to the shape.

  11. Jessica says:

    I’m so lazy bout my nails. If the old polish is all off I just put new polish on. The end. LOL
    Jessica recently posted … Positive Nonviolent Discipline (PRT)

  12. kwmechelle says:

    A. I WANT that nail polish
    (Ima sign up ☺️)
    C. I also take my own polish to the nail salon. I do it so I can repaint my nails if I get any chips. Never even considered the guilt-free benefit of using the countless bottles I already have (making the splurge totally worth it)

    Will be tuning in this week for more clues.
    East Coast homie 😎

    • Karen says:

      Hey Kwmechelle,


      I’ve been working on this for what seems like an eternity and seriously can’t wait for you to see it. I really do you love it as much as I do!

      Oh, and regarding nails, great minds think alike. Do you also bring your base and top coat? Sometimes I go so far as to take my own tools.

      Hope things are great on your end and that you had a wonderful weekend.

      • kwmechelle says:

        I’ve never taken my base & top coat but I shall from this day forward. Literally went to a post you posted maybe a month ago (?) so I could get the name of this polish when it originally made its debut here. Wouldn’t you know it? I wrote down the name but forgot to buy it. Thanks for the reminder πŸ™‚
        I’m sure I’ll love CC’s site. How can you not love a site named Connor Claire (and with a cute logo)? Your’s truly has already signed up. I’m sure Tab’s must be giving her modeling tips being the world famous kitty model that he is, yes? Toodles ☺️

        • Karen says:

          You’re welcome. Hope you get the color in your life soon because it’s so happy and fun. πŸ™‚

          And yeah, girl, take your base and top coat! Might as well go all the way, plus, you’ll know it’s something that will last. I’ve gone to several salons and left with a dicey top coat. Lesson learned!

          Oh, and I think Tabs has been giving Connor Claire lessons because she loves mugging for the camera. I took some pics of her the other day and she couldn’t stop smiling. I wish I could press pause on her baby-hood for just a little longer. Soon she’ll be six months! I can’t deal…

          It’s late on your end of the keyboard, isn’t it? Sleep well and sweet dreams!

  13. You really go all the way! For me it takes about 2 minutes total, oops, lol πŸ™‚ I should learn from you.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … My current skincare routine with (mostly) Clinique

  14. Sarah says:

    Awww phone cases!?!?!?! And other adorable items?! Can’t wait to see πŸ˜€

    Hmm, do you think that the cuticle oil should go on last or does the cleanser remove any excess oil that is on the nail?

  15. Agatha says:

    Good advice on removing the polish. For me, the polish remover is the most destroying thing of the entire manicure, making my nails extremely dry with fine crack lines. Yet, if I avoid polish altogether, my nails become very dry and cracked too. It gets frustrating. It’s inspirational to see your short, neatly trimmed nails. They look great! I prefer to keep mine trimmed short also.

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