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It’s the perfect time to teach yourself how to ace a professional-grade at-home manicure, and while there are a few ways you can approach the task (French tips, gel finish, nail art) we’ve gone for a classic — the regular polish mani.

Armed with a manicure kit and an hour of your time, serving up your own DIY manicure isn’t just achievable — it might just be fun too.

Step 1: Prep time

Start by washing and moisturising your hands, and then running a cotton ball of nail polish remover over each nail (even if you don’t have any polish on, it will remove any grime that could warp your polish). Depending on the length of the manicure you’re planning, you could also clip your nails to prep them for filing.

Step 2: Shape up

First, make sure to use a soft nail file (i.e. nothing metal) and avoid filing back and forth — this will weaken the nails, making them more likely to spilt. It’s also best to avoid filing recently wet nails (such as fresh out of the shower or bath), as they’ll break more easily. File one side of the nail in one direction, the other side of the nail in one direction, and finish by filing the middle of the nail in one direction. Keep your strokes light and your pressure even. Depending whether you’re looking for a square, oval or squoval shape, adjust the angle of your file accordingly.

Step 3: Get buff

Buffing might seem like an optional step, but for pro-quality nails at home, it’s essential. It’ll help smooth your nails to give you a perfectly prepped base. If you’re skipping the paint, it’ll also given you brighter nails and a natural, healthy shine. The best way to buff is to hold the buffing side parallel to your nail and stroke it across each nail in an X shape.

Step 4: Cuticle caution

Use a cuticle remover to exfoliate and remove dead skin. Next, soften the remaining cuticles by massaging cuticle oil into each nail and the skin surrounding it. If you don’t have cuticle oil, another beauty-friendly oil, such as coconut or olive, will work too. You can also push back your cuticles using a manicure stick to keep them in place. It’s important to avoid cutting your cuticles –you’ll run the risk of bumpy skin, or worse, infection. If you have hangnails (those painful bits of jagged skin that jut out) use a cuticle nipper — just be sure to avoid those cuticles.

Step 5: Paint job

There are three components to painting your nails. First, start with a clear base coat, which will prevent staining. Wait two minutes then go in with colour. Start with one stroke in the middle of the nail, then make one stoke on each side, using the shape of the applicator brush to push towards the sides with clean edges. Wait another two minutes and seal it with a topcoat. Don’t forget to run the coat along the top edge of each nail to minimise chipping and extend wear time.

Step 6: Clean up

Dip a cotton bud into remover and run it around the edges of your nails to clean away the excess polish on the skin around your fingertips. Don’t have a cotton bud, or looking for a more sustainable option? A flat eyeshadow brush dipped in remover will work too.

Voilà! You’ve nailed it.