A manicure set is a useful collection of tools to keep on hand for regular nail care, but these kits often have an extensive array of supplies that can be confusing to those who don't give themselves manicures very often. Using a manicure set is simple once you know how to use each tool. The results will be clean, well-shaped nails perfectly primed for a coat of polish, or equally attractive bare.
Remove any nail polish you may have on your nails and wash your hands. Begin your manicure with bare nails and clean hands.
Trim excessively long nails with a nail clipper. Trim the edges of the nail at a slight diagonal to create a smooth oval shape, then trim straight across the top. Use nail scissors to gently shape the edges of the nails. Your shaping does not need to be perfect in this step, the goal is to remove the length.
File down rough edges with an emery board. Begin at the corner of the nail and file to the centre, then switch sides and work on the other corner. File in one direction only, avoiding a back-and-forth sawing motion which can result in a split nail. Continue to file until you have the desired shape for each nail. If your nails don't need to be trimmed, you can begin your manicure at this step.
Clean underneath your fingernails with a nail cleaner. In many manicure kits, this tool has a slightly pointed nail cleaner on one end, with a cuticle pusher on the other.
Wash your hands again to remove any loosened dirt from beneath your fingernails as well as the fine dust created when filing your nails.
Soak your fingertips in warm water or slather with a cuticle cream to soften your cuticles. Wait a few minutes for this delicate skin to soften. Push the cuticles back gently with a cuticle pusher.
Wash your hands a final time to remove excess cuticle cream as well as any other reside on your hands and nails. For a bare look, you can end the manicure here or add a coat of clear polish for strength and shine. If you prefer polished nails, use a base coat, polish and top coat for the most professional look.
If you have thick nails, you may not be able to use the nail scissors to shape them. In this case you will simply need to take some extra time with the emery board to get the shape you want.