How to care for your nails at home, according to nail pros

Get an at-home manicure in no time.

At-home nail care tips

Can I be honest for a moment? Even if COVID-19 wasn't here, I have to admit that maintaining my nails at home is a challenge. If you're anything like me, your nails are prone to breakage, splitting, and when you're under pressure, you bite them. Sure, at-home nail kits are great for maintenance, but sometimes I need advice from the professionals.

How can I get the "fresh out of the salon" look after being quarantined with two kids under the age of four for months? And, how can we present my best self at home without spending tons of money and time?

I asked a few top nail professionals how to maintain the health of our nails (and even how to create the best mani) if you don't want to go to nail salons. Here's what they had to say:

On filing properly:

"Filing and shaping nails may seem like a mindless activity, but it can weaken and break your nails if done improperly. To prevent damage, never 'saw' back and forth on the tip of the nail. Instead, gently run the file across the nail in one direction." — Deborah Lippmann, celebrity manicurist + brand founder

Editor pick: Butter london nail file, $2

On removing gel nail polish:

"First, buff your fingernails with a nail file, removing the shiny coating of the gel polish. Then, soak a cotton ball in acetone. Place the soaked cotton ball on top of your buffed nail and wrap your finger in a small piece of aluminum foil to keep it in place. Once you have soaked for about 10 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and cotton. Use your cuticle pusher and VERY gently nudge the gel off the nail. If it doesn't lift right off, do another round of soaking saturating cotton with acetone and wrapping aluminum foil. Resist the temptation to 'file the gel off' that is where you can damage your natural nail." — Lippmann

Editor pick: Onyx Professional 100% acetone nail polish remover, $16.90

Note: Acetone nail polish remover is great for removing gel nails, but when removing regular nail polish, a non-acetone remover is best.

On cleaning your cuticles:

"Our cuticle acts as a barrier to keep free radicals and bacteria from entering the body. It's ideal to give ourselves a proper manicure once a week. I recommend using cuticle remover and a cuticle pusher to gently nudge your cuticle back toward your knuckles. Push the skin back on the sidewalls of the nails, then wipe the nail clean.

If you have any pieces of skin that are not connected, place your cuticle nipper exactly on that piece of skin—close it and reopen it without pulling. Keeping the cuticle intact is key. The next step is to hydrate your cuticle with cuticle oil to nourish and protect the skin." — Lippmann

Editor pick: Tweezerman dual sided pushy, $16

On creating ombre nails:

"Ombrè designs might sound difficult to create, but you can create the look with simple sponging techniques. First, apply a base coat, then apply a thin coat of a nude color. Next, apply the nude color to the base of a beauty sponge. Then apply preferred shade to the beauty sponge directly above where you've applied the nude color. Next, gently dab the beauty sponge onto the nail with another preferred nail color at the top of the nail. Finally, apply a top coat and let dry." — Sigourney Nuñez, OPI North America Education Manager

Editor pick: JINsoon nail polish, $18

Côte founders Mary Lennon and Leah Yari offer tips for creating the perfect at-home manicure:

  1. For starters, don't be in a hurry. Take your time, find a clean, well-ventilated space and lay out all your items. Make it your own little home-spa oasis.
  2. Make sure your nail plate is clean. Use a non-acetone remover, then follow up with a quick wipe of rubbing alcohol.
  3. Don't skip the basecoat. Even though the color is the fun part, the base coat is important if you want your color to last. But don't overdo it—a thin coat on each nail will suffice.
  4. When applying polish, start with one swipe down the middle, then follow up with swipes to the sides to spread the polish.
  5. Wait at least 5 minutes before applying another coat of polish. Waiting between coats does wonders for helping the overall drying process.
  6. When it's time for the dreaded non-dominant hand, make sure you anchor your hand against something, like a table. This will make those wobbles disappear and give you control of where your brush goes.
  7. Finish with a top coat to seal it all up. Have fun with this part, consider a matte finish just to mix it up.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play