Fashion Money Saving Tips

Manicure on a Budget: 10 Surprising Ideas

Manicure on a Budget: 10 Surprising Ideas
Written by Oana Schneider

For most women, one of their must-have beauty treatments is a manicure. Even if you’re only wearing a plain t-shirt and a pair of jeans, having perfectly polished nails will make you look very well put together. Manicures are especially important when you’re attending a formal event, or if you simply want to look a bit more glamorous or gain more self-confidence when you’re feeling stressed or down.

However, maintaining beautifully manicured fingernails takes a lot of time, care, and effort. It especially costs a lot if you are getting manicures from professionals at nail salons or beauty spas. Try getting a manicure on a budget and you’ll feel twice as happy!

To give you an idea about how much money women are spending on professional manicures, take a look at the following figures from

  • From January 2013 to March 2014, statistics show that approximately 24,000 adults in the US have gotten a professional manicure in the last 6 months.
  • Around 4% of the respondents have gotten a professional manicure twice or three times in the past 6 months.
  • From 2008 to 2013, the average price of deluxe manicures at nail studios in the US was around $27.

Considering the average, you are bound to spend more than $600 for twice-a-month professional manicures over the course of one year! What if you would like to keep the costs down but still have perfectly polished nails?

Read on to find out what our top ten tips are to save money on manicures. Choose a manicure on a budget instead!

Top 10 Ideas for a Manicure on a Budget

To save money on manicures, here are the top ten ideas that you can borrow:  

1. Learn how to DIY.

Nail polish costs at least a couple of dollars per bottle, more if you will get ones with a quick-drying formula or a unique finish. Add to this the cost of clear nail polish and the tools that you need to do your own manicure, and you will be saving a lot of money when doing your nails yourself.

Of course, you would have to forego that feeling of being pampered when visiting a professional nail salon – but the cost savings in the long run should be well worth it.

Check out these steps for a do-it-yourself manicure solution. 

Steps for a DIY manicure on a budget:

  • Trim, file and buff your nails.
  • Apply one coat of a first base coat polish.
  • Apply the first coat of your preferred nail polish color. Let dry, then apply a second coat.
  • After the second coat has dried, apply a top coat nail polish.
  • Spray on a Rapid Dry formula and allow the freshly painted nails to completely dry.

2. If you like gel manicures, use a kit.

Gel manicures generally last longer than traditional polish, but they are also more expensive.

To save money and have the long-lasting effect of gel nail polish, purchase a gel manicure starter kit from brands like Sally Hansen. Such kits typically cost one visit to the salon, but you can use them multiple times. Each set contains a UV light gadget which you will use to dry your nails, a base coat, a gel color nail polish, a top coat and other accessories like an alcohol pad or an acetone nail polish remover.

Gel manicures last for two weeks or more, depending on the tasks that your nails usually handle. Just make sure your manicure on a budget doesn’t turn into a real fiasco!

Manicure on a Budget: 10 Surprising Ideas

You Don’t Have to Pay Big Bucks to Have a Cool Manicure!

Steps for a DIY gel manicure on a budget:

  • Trim, file and buff your nails.
  • Use an emery board to achieve the desired nail shape.
  • You can apply sunscreen to your hands to protect your skin from the rays of the UV lamp, although this step is optional.
  • Make sure that your nails are completely free from oil by using an alcohol swab for cleaning.
  • Doing one hand at a time, apply the base coat then place hands under the UV lamp for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on what’s indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Apply nail gel color, then place hands under the UV lamp for the same number of second.
  • Do the same thing using a second coat of nail gel color.
  • Clean up any excess polish using a cotton swab dipped in acetone. If the polish goes over the skin, it will easily chip off and you’ll have to repeat the process all over again.
  • Apply the top coat and repeat the same set of steps on the other hand.
  • Use an alcohol swab to remove any polish residue.

The more you practice doing your own manicure on a budget – be it the traditional or gel nail polish – the more adept you will be at it, and the more money you will save.

3. Bring your own polish.

If you simply cannot say no to the pampered feel of having your nails done at a salon, you can cut costs by bringing your own nail polish. The good thing about this is that in case your manicure gets chipped, you can simply fix it at home because you get to take the polish with you. It also cuts the costs of a professional manicure at a nail spa or a beauty salon.

4. Skip the fancy nail salons.

Be on the lookout for new salons or ones which are holes-in-the-wall. The lesser known, the better because these are the establishments that will not charge you an arm and a leg for the service. This is especially true if they are just starting out. Ask about promotions for new customers, percentage off for loyal customers, or two-in-one specials.

For more tips on how to get a manicure on a budget, keep reading!

5. Purchase the polish and re-apply the color weekly.

If you weren’t able to bring your own polish, you can simply ask the nail technician if you can purchase the same bottle so that you can retouch your manicure at home. Instead of paying for a full manicure after two weeks or less, you can simply apply a fresh coat of paint yourself at home.

Manicure on a Budget: 10 Surprising Ideas

You Are Free to Try on Many Nail Polish Shades!

6. A long-lasting topcoat is a good investment.

There are nail salons which will charge you just a dollar or two extra for a long-lasting top coat. Although regular clear nail polish is perfectly acceptable, you can make your manicure look flawless for a longer span of time by opting for a long-lasting topcoat.

If you’re going for a DIY manicure solution at home, purchase clear nail polish with a long-lasting formula. If you are crafty, you can actually do your own professional manicure on a budget at home!

7. Go for a polish change instead of a full manicure.

You can save almost half of the cost of a full manicure by opting for a polish change. Just make sure that your nails do not yet need a full soaking, trimming or cuticle cutting. A polish change after one or two weeks and maintenance at home will make your manicure last longer.

8. Use coupons.

If you’re looking for a manicure on a budget, you may want to consider coupons. Most of the independent nail salons offer coupons or early bird specials to clients.

Majority of the coupons or promotional events are given directly to the client instead of distributing actual coupon print-outs, so always ask the staff or the manager. Even a few dollars off the regular price of a full mani will give you big savings in the long run.

9. Buff your way into exquisite manicures.

Beauty editors swear by the effectiveness of nail buffing. If you need to always look very well put together but your line of work or your tasks at home always cause you to have chipped, cracked nails, you can opt for buffing. This costs around $5 more than a professional mani, but it will make your nails look gorgeous without the need for chemical-based polish or frequent trips to the salon.

10. Take active steps to make your manicure last longer.

Finally, take active steps to make your manicure on a budget last longer. You spent a lot of time perfecting a DIY manicure, or paid a good amount on a professional mani from a salon.

Here are the top ways for you to make those perfectly polished nails last longer:

  • When doing the mani yourself, file your nails into a shape that mimics the shape of your cuticles. This will make your nails less likely to break.
  • When buying your own polish, use a sticky base coat to make the colored polish last longer.
  • Don’t shake the nail polish bottle up and down. Instead, roll it between the palm of your hands to prevent air bubbles from altering the original state of the polish.
  • After getting a full professional mani, skip the housework. If you must dirty your hands, use a glove to protect your nails. Also skip other tasks that will chip or break the polish like opening soda cans or removing price stickers from canned products or bottles.
  • To make your gel manicure last longer, cover the base of the nails with glitter to create an ombre effect. You can do the same thing on traditional manicure, and it will look as if you have gotten a fresh one.
  • Two or three days after getting your manicure on a budget, reapply one layer of a clear topcoat. This will enhance the shine and prevent your nails from chipping.

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Manicure on a Budget: 10 Surprising Ideas

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About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois and was part of our team as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget and has a degree in Communications.


  • It’s true that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a professional manicure. You can get the same results through some unique DIY options, and I’d have to say that I like most of the ideas presented here if you do want to go to a business to get the manicure done. Far too many people think they need to spend a fortune each trip, though.

    • That is true that too many people anticipate spending a fortune on a manicure. These DIY options are extremely helpful and should be seriously considered. Some of them seem obvious yet I have never thought or heard of it being doing. One such example is bringing in your own nail polish. I can see how this would cut the cost drastically. I am definitely going to tell people about this article!

  • I think that there are indeed a lot of things that you could do yourself at home that you just don’t need to see a professional for, if I’m being honest with you. So for that reason, if you just do your research and learn how to do certain things for yourself, you should find that you are able to save a lot of money and make a difference with things. I think that it is worth learning how to look after your nails after you’ve had a manicure as well, because if you take care of them it means that they will last longer and you won’t have to waste any more money getting them done again.

  • My wife does her own nails and our kids’ nails as well. We have two daughters and they’ve just recently taken interest in manicures. Imagine the money we’d have to spend if my wife didn’t do all of these things on her own.

  • I only get my nails done for formal occasions. It costs way too much otherwise. If I want to just dress up for fun, I do it myself or ask my sister to do it because she’s amazing at nail art. The internet has tons of tutorials and advice for doing your nails on your own.

  • Thank you for these useful tips. One thing I have found, as I can rarely afford to pay for a manicure anyway, is that Poundland here in the UK sells Sally Hansen nail products. I have also discovered that if you go to certain places, where the clientele is not European, you get great deals on both eyebrows and nails. Before my daughter got married I had an amazing time in such a place at a fraction I would have paid in the high street. My only regret at having to do nails on a budget is that I am hopeless at putting the nail varnish on and usually end up with the clear sort for that reason.

  • My wife enjoys doing her nails but has never had a professional manicure done. While being pampered by a professional feels good (naturally), she finds it relaxing to do her own nails once a week or so, and agrees with the article that a quality topcoat is essential. It’s a little more pricey but gives a nice professional finish that lasts longer. Her tip: paint one coat in the evening, then the next coat in the morning while you drink your coffee. Individually, they dry in 15 minutes or so. Whenever she does them in the same night, it takes hours before she can do anything without messing them up.

  • I’ve never actually had a professional manicure, I’ve been doing it myself all these years. I’ve gotten better at it, but I’m still not exactly great at it, haha. There are a number of hole-in-the-wall salons where I live, so I’d like to treat myself to a manicure every once in a while. Will definitely keep all these tips in mind when I do. I especially like the idea of bringing my own polish to the salon. I have so many colors that would look so much better on my nails if someone else applied them.

  • There are some good tips here. I’ve been doing my own manicures for years. It’s really easy to keep your hands looking polished on your own. Another tip that I think is really beneficial is moisturizing your cuticles. That is one step that really takes nails from looking amateur to professional. You don’t even need a fancy cuticle treatment, coconut oil or olive oil work just fine. The tip on coupons is great. Places like Groupon and LivingSocial offer some great deals for mani/pedi’s!

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