Everything You Need In Your At-Home Manicure Kit

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.

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OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener Original Formula

Depending on the health of your nails, you may want to go back to basics before even going in with polish. Think of this strengthener as an intensive mask for your nails – apply two coats to clean nails, then add a fresh coat prior to your next manicure.
OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener Original Formula, $17.95 Buy
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Tweezerman Stainless Steel Fingernail Clipper

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.
Tweezerman Stainless Steel Fingernail Clipper, $7.00 Buy
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GERmanikure Crystal Glass Cuticle Pusher

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 Julie Kandalec 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."
GERmanikure Crystal Glass Cuticle Pusher, $12.56 Buy
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Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator 4-Way Nail Buffer

If you're a kit minimalist, look for a tool that can buff, shape, file, and smooth the nail surface all in one.
Deborah Lippmann Smooth Operator 4-Way Nail Buffer, $12.00 Buy
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Tenoverten The Foundation Base Coat

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.
Tenoverten The Foundation Base Coat, $18.00 Buy
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Nails Inc. Nailkale Superfood Base Coat

A good base coat won't just 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.
Nails Inc. Nailkale Superfood Base Coat, $15.00 Buy
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Olive & June "The Poppy" Bottle Handle

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 Buy
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CND Vinylux Weekly Polish

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.
CND Vinylux Weekly Polish, $10.50 Buy
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Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat 

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 Vite Seche Dry Fast Top Coat, $9.95 Buy
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Essie Matte About You Top Coat 

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.
Essie Matte About You Top Coat, $5.99 Buy
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e.l.f. Cosmetics Small Angled Brush

"Even the best DIY polishers make mistakes," editorial manicurist and Essie Global Lead Educator Rita Remark tells Refinery29. "Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Dip a rigid angled liner brush in nail polish remover and wipe away any mani mishaps." Voilà, a flawless result.
e.l.f. Cosmetics Small Angled Brush, $4.00 Buy
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Côte Takeoff Nail Polish Remover

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 travel-friendly wipes for on-the-go removal if you're on vacay.)
Côte TakeOff Polish Remover, $18.00 Buy
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Tenoverten Non-Toxic Nail Dryer

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.
Tenoverten Non-Toxic Nail Dryer, $18.00 Buy
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French Girl Organics Nail and Cuticle Oil

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 Buy
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Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream With Sea Buckthorn SPF 40

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.
Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream With Sea Buckthorn SPF 40, $14.00 Buy
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