As much as we love hitting the local salon for an end-of-day
mani date, sometimes, nothing is better than doing the DIY thing from the comfort of your couch, while catching up on episodes of . The Great British Baking Show
The thing is, no matter how close we are to being ambidextrous, getting a great-looking result isn't as easy as it would appear. However, armed with the right tools and nail care products,
nailing the at-home manicure is well within reach.
How are we sure? We tapped two of the industry's coolest nail artists to share their must-have tools and products, and let's just say that if it's good enough for backstage at
New York Fashion Week, you can believe it's the real deal. Whether you're a novice or basically a Paintbox artist, here are all the essentials you need to build an A+ at-home mani starter kit. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Investing in a nail clipper is like buying a bottle of Merlot: The cheapest stuff will do the job, but if you pony up for a slightly more expensive version, it'll reward you in spades. Tweezerman's $7 clipper is made of durable stainless steel and allows you to create a precise shape before filing.
Stainless Steel Fingernail Clipper, $7.00
If you've never used a glass or crystal nail file before, get ready to discover a whole new world of nail care. "It’s basically a cuticle pusher that’s made of the same material that a glass file is made with," New York City-based nail artist
tells Refinery29. "It's brilliant for pushing back cuticles efficiently, and removing the extra skin adhered to the nail plate, allowing for a crisp cuticle area."
Crystal Glass Cuticle Pusher, $12.56
If you're a kit minimalist, look for a tool that can buff, shape, file, and smooth the nail surface all in one.
Smooth Operator 4-Way Nail Buffer, $12.00
You don't need to search high and low for non-toxic nail care products. Case in point? Tenoverten's ridge-filling base coat, which goes on clear to perfectly prep nails for polish, and has all the ingredients you want in a base coat, minus all the ones you don't.
The Foundation Base Coat, $18.00
A good base coat won't
provide an even canvas for polish, but will actually help improve the health of your nails over time. London nail care brand Nails Inc.'s Nailkale base coat is packed with good-for-you ingredients like keratin and botanical extracts to help repair brittle, weak nails.
Nailkale Superfood Base Coat, $15.00
Los Angeles-based nail destination Olive & June is solving at-home mani woes with The Poppy, an ergonomic bottle handle designed to stabilize your polish application for quicker, more precise results.
Olive & June
The Poppy, $16.00
Whether you're doing your nails at home or getting them done at the salon, ensuring a long-lasting finish is key. CND's Vinylux polish doesn't require a base coat, yet grips onto the nail and stays chip-free for up to a week.
Vinylux Weekly Polish, $10.50
Chances are you've probably spotted bottles of the salon-favorite Seche Vite top coat, made famous for its insanely fast dry time and glossy, patent-like finish.
Seche Dry Fast Top Coat, $9.95
A shiny top coat will always be a kit staple, but an easy way to switch up your mani (without investing in a new shade) is to add a mattifying top coat for a velvety effect.
Matte About You Top Coat, $5.99
"Even the best DIY polishers make mistakes," editorial manicurist and Essie Global Lead Educator
tells Refinery29. "Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Dip a rigid angled liner brush in nail polish remover and wipe away any mani mishaps."
, a flawless result.
Small Angled Brush, $4.00
Chipped your nail mere minutes after your mani? Not to worry — start fresh (or expertly smooth out any nicks or bumps) with a clean, acetone-free polish remover that removes your lacquer while being kind to nails. (They're also available in
for on-the-go removal if you're on vacay.)
TakeOff Polish Remover, $18.00
Patience is a virtue, but if you simply can't wait for your mani to air-dry, speed things up with some quick dry drops infused with essential oils and nourishing vitamin E.
Non-Toxic Nail Dryer, $18.00
Treating your cuticles and nails with a nourishing oil is an easy way to keep your mani looking in tip-top shape. Simply roll onto your nailbeds, rub in, and admire.
French Girl Organics
Nail and Cuticle Oil, $22.00
The perfect finishing touch of any at-home mani is a nourishing hand cream to soften your skin — bonus points for SPF 40, which wards off premature signs of aging.
Forever Young Hand Cream With Sea Buckthorn SPF 40, $14.00