Equipment

The equipment you need will depend on what type of manicure you want. I have separated each type of manicure and listed what is needed underneath, along with pictures and links to purchase them if you need to.

Picture of all the main equipment for the most popular manicures

Picture of the main equipment for the most popular manicures

 

The menu below is a quicker way to skip to where you want to go – just use the back button on your browser to return to this menu:

Decorations

Nail Varnish Manicure

Preparation for Applying Full False Nails, Artificial Nail Tips, UV Gel and Acrylic

Full False Nails

Artificial Nail Tips

Gel Nails

Acrylic Nails

Final Recommendations

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Decorations

These decorations can be used in any manicure. I have found that the best way to secure them on to your nails is with UV gel. I have just written the most popular ones (and my favourites) here because there are tonnes of different decorations you can use.

Bows – Can be big or small. They are a really cute decoration and they work well with all sorts of designs.

Cute bows - you can buy them in many sizes and colours

Cute bows – you can buy them in many sizes and colours


Crystals – Small sparkly little diamonds that are best applied with your dotting tool or with your cuticle stick (just put a dab of clear polish on the end of your tool to make it sticky). These are definitely one of my favourite decorations; they can make any manicure look amazing! They often come under different names such as rhinestones, gems or diamantes.

Big crystals, but they come in all sorts of sizes and colours.

Big crystals, but they come in all sorts of sizes and colours.


Glitter – Comes in all sorts of colours and shapes. This is the decoration I use the most, I love it *_*! Glitter can be added to most designs to make them really sparkly. It’s the perfect decoration to use over the Christmas period!

Glitter - there are all sorts of colours.

Glitter – there are all sorts of colours and sizes


Nail Striping Tape – This is a really thin tape, used for creating small straight lines. They are available in all sorts of colours (my favourite being the metallic range) and they can make nails look really professional.

Gold metallic striping tape

Gold metallic striping tape


Nail Art Pens – These make it so much easier to design your nails. They are much better to draw with and come in a variety of colours. I use them here in this snowman design tutorial.

Black, Pink and Gold nail art pens

Black, Pink and Gold nail art pens

 

Caviar Beads – Tiny beads that you sprinkle over your nails. They are so easy to use and they make your manicure really stand out.

Caviar beads - really pretty and easy to use

Caviar beads – really pretty and easy to use

 

Nail Stamper – A tool used to stamp a pattern onto your nail that would be difficult to create freehand. This video explains it in more detail. It takes a while to get the hang of this – well it did for me anyway V_V

STAMP :)

STAMP 🙂

Nail Varnish Manicure

The preparation for this manicure is slightly different to all the other manicures, and is a lot quicker and easier to do 🙂

For the preparation you will need:

A nail file – you will need a nail file to smooth down and shape the free edge of your nail. There are several ways you can shape your nails as you can see here. Shaping your nails is a great way to get your manicure looking even more gorgeous!

Nail files :)

Nail files 🙂

 

Cuticle pusher – The most common types are the orange wood stick and the metal cuticle pusher. Both have a flat side used for pushing the cuticle back and a sharp side used for scraping away any leftover cuticle.

You can use an orange wood cuticle stick or a metal cuticle stick

You can use an orange wood cuticle stick or a metal cuticle stick

It comes down to personal preference for which one you should buy. The metal ones last longer so are a one off purchase, but they are usually more expensive. I have a metal one but I prefer to use my orange wood sticks because they are smaller and sharper, making them easier to use.

 

Optional preparation equipment:

Nail cutters – In case you have long nails but want them short (filing takes a while v_v). If you do cut your nails then it’s a good tip to give your free edge a quick file down afterwards to smooth them over and remove any sharp bits.

Cutting in small snips is less likely to cause damage to your nails

Cutting in small snips is less likely to cause damage to your nails

 

Equipment needed for the actual manicure:

Nail varnish – In your chosen colour

Rimmel 60 seconds blue nail polish

Rimmel 60 seconds blue nail polish


Nail varnish top coat – This really helps in making your manicure last longer whilst also making your nails really shiny ^_^! I usually apply several coats for extra protection. Top coats wear off just like nail varnish does, so applying more top coats every few days will really help in making your manicure last.

Sally Hansen top-coat - can be used as a base-coat too!

Sally Hansen top-coat – can be used as a base-coat too!

 

Optional:
Extra brushes/tools – The standard brush included with your nail varnish is good enough for those just wanting one colour. If you are designing them however, then having different size brushes/tools is a great idea. My personal favourite is the dotting tool – so easy to use and makes gorgeous looking nails (here are the ones I make).

All the brushes you really need - but there are loads you can get.

All the brushes you really need – but there are many more

Dotting tools - these things are awesome for fine detail.

Dotting tools – these things are awesome for fine detail.

Preparation for applying Full False Nails, Artificial Nail Tips, UV Gel and Acrylic

The preparation is the same for all the manicures listed in the above subheading. It’s very similar to the equipment needed for the nail varnish manicure with slight variations. Here’s the list:

A nail file – Probably the most important tool for the preparation. It is used to dehydrate your nail plate through gentle filing. This helps everything adhere to your natural nail.

Pink nail files

Pink nail files =)

The nail file can also be used to smooth down and shape the free edge of your nail. There are several ways you can shape your nails – check them out here.

Cuticle pusher – The most common types are the orange wood stick and the metal cuticle pusher. Both have a flat side used for pushing the cuticle back and a sharp side used for scraping away any leftover cuticle.

You can use an orange wood cuticle stick or a metal cuticle stick

You can use an orange wood cuticle stick or a metal cuticle stick

It comes down to personal preference for which one you should buy. The metal ones last longer so are a one off purchase, but they are usually more expensive. I have a metal one but I prefer to use my orange wood sticks because they are smaller and sharper making them easier to use.

 

Optional:

Dusting brush – The leftover dust from filing needs to be removed before you apply anything to your nail, and using your fingers may add moisture back on to your newly filed nails. Getting rid of the dust is important because if it gets trapped under your manicure it can cause it to lift off v_v!

Dusting-Brush

Nail Dehydrator – This is a thin clear liquid which is applied to your natural nail only. Some people like to use this to help dehydrate their natural nail so that the UV gel or Acrylic will adhere better. When applying tips or full false nails, do not apply a dehydrator as it stops the glue from working properly. Once your tips are secure you can then apply the dehydrator, but only to the part of the natural nail that is still visible, not the tip.

Nail dehydrator - dries out your nails to help the sticking process

Nail dehydrator – dries out your nails to help everything bond together

 

Full False Nails


Full false nails – They are available in tonnes of different designs, or you can buy plain ones to decorate yourself. They also come in a variety of sizes. The most common and the ones I choose to sell are short-medium.

False nails from my shop

False nails from my shop


Nail glue – Applied to the false nails before applying them to your natural nails.

Nail glue :)

Nail glue 🙂

Optional:

Nail holder – If your nails are plain and you want to decorate them, but they are loose and not attached to a stick, they can be really difficult to design (as your fingers get in the way). If you’re like me and want to save money however, you can create your own holder at home using cotton buds and blu-tak. To do this, place some blu-tak on either end of the cotton bud, then stick a nail on to the blu-tak ^_~.

My version of a nail holder.

My version of a nail holder.

 

Artificial Nail Tips

Artificial nail tips – Applied to the end of your natural nail to enhance the length. You can get these with designs on and in different colours. The most popular is the plain white tip.

A finished manicure with artificial nail tips

A finished manicure with artificial nail tips

 

Nail glue – Applied to the false nail tips before placing them on to your natural nails.

Nail glue once more :)

Nail glue once more 🙂

 

Acrylic Nail Cutters – Using one of these is the best way to cut down your artificial tips. Your normal nail clippers will do the job if you cut across in small snips, but this may take a while 🙁

Acrylic nail cutter

Acrylic nail cutter

 

Gel Nails


UV Gel Primer – A clear liquid that is applied first to your natural nail to help the next layers of UV gel adhere to your natural nail, overall making your manicure more solid.

UV gel primer

UV gel primer


UV Builder Gel – Another clear liquid that is applied after the primer. This is the main part of the UV gel nail. Its main purpose is to strengthen your natural nails by forming a protective layer, making your manicure durable and shiny. It can be used on both natural and artificial nails.

UV builder gel - the base for your UV gel nails

I only use clear, but some people like to use a natural pink as well


UV Gel Top Coat – Applied last to secure your whole design and adds a beautiful shine.

UV Gel top-coat - adds a beautiful shine to your manicure :)

UV Gel top-coat – adds a beautiful shine to your manicure 🙂


UV Lamp – Used to cure (dry) the UV gel. I have a 36watt lamp which cures the UV gel in 2 minutes (approximately). The 9watt lamps are cheaper, but take longer to cure the gel. I have never owned a 9watt lamp before so I can’t say for sure exactly how long a 9watt lamp takes to cure the gel, but from what I have gathered you should triple the time it takes for the 36watt lamp. If anyone has any experience with the 9watt lamps then please feel free to comment below for others to see :)!

36 watt UV lamp

36 watt UV lamp with 2 minute timer


Cleanser Plus – A liquid used to remove the residue (stickiness) left after the UV gel nails have been cured. It is recommended that you apply it to lint free wipes so that no little bits come off and get stuck to your nail/brushes, but you could use cheaper alternatives e.g. household tissues, cotton pads etc.

Cleanser plus with lint free wipes

Cleanser plus with lint free wipes

Medium Sized Brush – Used to apply the UV builder gel. The UV gel primer and top coat usually come with their own brushes.

Medium sized brush

Medium sized brush

Optional:

Pink UV Builder Gel – Some people like to just put the clear UV gel over their tips, and the pink one on the rest of the nail to give it a more natural look. Personally, I prefer to just use the clear UV builder gel over the whole nail to save time 🙂

Pink UV builder gel :)

It looks bright, but comes out rather clear

Acrylic Nails


Monomer – The acrylic liquid that when combined with polymer (the acrylic powder) creates the acrylic blend.

Acrylic liquid a.k.a Monomer

Acrylic liquid a.k.a Monomer


Polymer – The acrylic powder to be mixed with monomer (the acrylic liquid).

Acrylic powders a.k.a Polymer

Clear, Pink & White (the clear powder looks white until mixed with monomer)

Medium Sized Brush – Used to apply the acrylic blend to your nails.

Medium sized brush

Medium sized brush

Container for Monomer and Polymer – I found a nice plastic one on eBay used specifically for holding monomer and polymer, but in general a glass container is recommended.

Plastic container from eBay

Plastic container from eBay

Similar to the UV gel nails, a Primer and a Topcoat are also needed. They don’t have to be UV gel ones, any will do in case you don’t have access to a UV lamp. If using the UV gel primer and UV gel topcoat you will also need a UV lamp, cleanser plus, and lint free wipes (refer to the UV gel equipment for more information)

 

Final Recommendations

Nail Files – For when you’re filing your free edge – if your nail file feels rough, it’s recommended that you only file in one direction so you don’t damage your nail. You can soften your nail file by rubbing two together until they feel smoother – then you can file in both directions, which speeds things up.

More nail files!

More nail files!


Cuticle Cream – A lot of people like to apply this at the end of every manicure. It hydrates and softens your cuticles and the surrounding skin. This is a good way for your skin to recover from any damage that may have happened during your manicure. I always use the Apricot Sally Hansen Cuticle Cream – the smell makes you want to eat it!

Yummy.

Yummy.


Nail Polish Remover – This is always a good thing to have handy. Before starting any manicure your nails need to be nice and clean to get the best results :]

Nail polish remover - for cleaning your nails :)

Nail polish remover – for cleaning your nails 🙂


Cotton bud – These are so helpful! When doing UV gel nails, I use them to remove any UV gel that may have ended up on the surrounding skin before curing my nails. Also, at the end of a nail varnish manicure, I dip the cotton bud in some nail polish remover and use it to remove any unwanted nail polish from around my nails.

Cotton bud - simple but effective!

Cotton bud – simple but effective!

Nail Buffer – A block, generally with three or four sides of varying roughness, used on your natural nails to make them smooth and shiny. Using one of these is a great, healthier alternative to a manicure. Buff your nails (the free edge and nail plate) starting with the roughest side and ending with the smoothest side.

Nail buffer with 4 sides of varying roughness

Nail buffer with 4 sides of varying roughness

 

 

 

All the family :)

All the family 🙂

This is all the main equipment. If I have forgot anything, or if you have any of your own recommendations then please do leave a comment below ^_^

Emily xo