My Manicure Essentials

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post, Makeup Tips/How To, Nails

manicure essentials

I love doing my nails. It’s relaxing, and I always feel proud of myself afterward for saving a few dollars (so I can spend it on more makeup, obvs).  


That being said, I usually don’t have a ton of time, so here are my essentials to get the job done as quickly and easily as possible.

Nail Clippers and File

Pretty obvious choice, but nothing ruins cute polish like ragged nails.  I’ve bought more expensive nail files, but I always go back to these cheap ones that come like a dozen to a box.  I like being able to stash these at work, in my purse and in my gym bag.  I also use the nail file to clean up the polish around the edges of my nails.

Cuticle Remover

I felt like such a pro the day I incorporated Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover into my manicure routine!  I never had the patience to soak my nails in water before pushing back my cuticles, so this product is perfect.  I squeeze it around my cuticles, lightly, push them back with my fingers, and then rinse it off.  It’s easy and really effective.  Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover is available at Target for $5.

Base Coat

I’m always looking for the best base coat, and lately I’ve been reaching for Orly Bonder.  I think it works well with different polishes, and I love that it dries quickly.  

It’s an extra step, but my nails won’t last more than a day without base coat.  Orly Bonder is available at Ulta for $10.

Nail Polish

I’m usually choosing between a neutral and a bold color, but I almost always end up going for the neutral.  I’m really hard on my nails, so I like to pick something that won’t show the chips.  When I sat down to do my nails the other day, I debated between Golden Sand and Cashmere, both by Mineral Fusion.  

I ended up choosing the nude, of course!  Golden Sand is a neutral tan with subtle silver shimmer.  It’s a unique and really pretty shade.  I like how it’s close enough to my skin tone to be subtle but doesn’t look muddy or boring.

mineral fusion polishes

Top Coat

I’ve tried a few different top coats, but I’m not committed to one right now.  I’d been using Seche Vite for a while, but sometimes it makes the polish shrink, so I’ve been looking for something better.  


This time I tried Mineral Fusion Gel Top Coat, and I love how it gave my nails that plump and shiny look that you can only seem to get from a gel manicure. This was the closest I’ve ever gotten to achieving that same look at home, which is amazing.

And despite the thickness of this top coat, my polish dries crazy fast.  I was so shocked because I was fully expecting to wait a long time for my polish to dry, and my nails were completely dry in about 5 minutes. Mineral Fusion polishes are available now at Ulta for $8.

mineral fusion golden sand nail polish

Do you do your nails at home?  If so, what do you like to use?  Let me know in the comments!

Adia Goss

Adia is a lawyer by day and a beauty blogger by night. She believes that makeup should be fun and simple, but she also likes multi-step skincare routines (she’s complicated!). Adia loves the sight of a brand new highlighter, and she’s constantly looking for the perfect concealer. Follow her beauty adventures at Adia Adores (formerly beautyluxelife) and on Instagram.


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So far, 28 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. I recently realized the importance of having GOOD clippers and a GOOD nail file! 🙂
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | Canmake Smooth Skin Primer, Kiss Me Sunkiller Super Lasting Base 50+, Privacy UV Face Powder 50

  2. Jessica says:

    ……. I have not done my nails in several months……
    now i feel guilty.
    Jessica recently posted … My Psychedelic Glowing Toilet

  3. Erin says:

    I haven’t done my nails in so long. Life has been too crazy. I’m a big clipper user though but I use a toe clipper for my fingers it usually allows me to make only one cut. I also find that the angle of most is great for shaping the nail. As long as they are sharp, I rarely need to file.
    Erin recently posted … North by Northwest 2013 Reisling

  4. Allison C says:

    I love Mineral Fusion Cashmere that’s in your photo. It’s one of my favorite shades, and I love the wider brush that it has.
    Allison C recently posted … The Battle of the Balms: Lip Balms for Seriously Dry Lips & Giveaway Winner Announcement

  5. Tatiana says:

    I don’t have an Ulta nearby, so I’m not familiar with Mineral Fusion polishes. Need to check these out. Polish rarely lasts more than a day or two on my nails, so I don’t do my nails that often. I had pretty decent luck with the new Chanel gel top coat, it helped my last manicure last 4 days. Practically a record for me. My favorite quick dry top coat is Glisten & Glow HK Girl.

  6. Rachel says:

    I always do my own nails! I use Poshè now instead of Seche Vite since its 3-free. It doesn’t seem to have the shrinking issue.
    Rachel recently posted … NYX Wonder Pencil First Impression

  7. Eesha says:

    That Sally Hansen instant cuticle remover is my staple too! I can’t do my mani without it 😉

  8. christine says:

    I do maintenance on my nails but get a professional to tidy them up often. I use a set from crabtree & evelyn and absolutely love it!

  9. Kristen says:

    I’ve never heard of these polishes! I’ll have to check them out. I swear by Zoya. I can paint my nails and 5 days go by before I see a chip. I also love their fast dry drops!! You can literally paint your nails, put on the drops, and in like 10 minutes your nails are dry. It’s amazing stuff!

  10. Kimberly says:

    I always enjoy the guest posts on the blog and this post from Ms Goss is no exception. I’m going now to pick up a couple Mineral Fusion polishes as I’d not heard of them. So thx for great post and introducing me to a new nail care brand!

  11. Lorraine says:

    lovely nails and nice post! I am with you on the cheap nail files- I rely on those and Sally Hansen with Aloe Problem Cuticle Remover. My go to top coat is Out the Door, another cheap find but no shrinkage issues. It is a quick dry, high gloss finish.

  12. Kelsey says:

    Glisten & Glow by HK Girl is a popular top coat in the indie nail world. They carry it at I haven’t tried it yet, but it feels like everyone uses it!

  13. Jennifer says:

    I really like that nude polish. I think a nude is one of the hardest shades to find. I have a couple but I’m not totally enamored with them.

    I use either Nailtiques Formula 2 Nail Protein as a base coat or Orly Ridgefiller.

    I really like Deborah Lippmann’s Addicted to Speed top coat. I also really like her Gel Lab set, which makes my polish last a long time.

    I also use CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat, which is good but not as great as people say it is.

    I’ve used Seche Vite but it’s a little too thick for me and it seems to age quickly.
    Jennifer recently posted … Easter Treat Recipe Ideas

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