My Manicure Must-Haves

I’ve had quite a number of you guys email me asking how I do manicure clean-ups, how I give myself a proper mani and what products I use when I give my fingertips a good pamper session.  I thought I would answer your questions by doing a blog post covering all of the questions I have received.

I enjoy treating myself to a manicure but I hardly EVER go to a salon for a mani / pedi because most of the time I leave quite disappointed.  The manicurists either flood my cuticles and don’t do any type of cleanup or they clip my cuticles into non-existence.  I never clip, snip or bite (ew…) my cuticles because I have never had any issues with them & I also don’t push them back with an orange stick (I find one can damage the nail bed if you are not careful).  Oh, and by ‘treating’ I actually mean giving myself a proper manicure – clip, file, buff, paint, oil, mask, you name it – the whole shebang!

Let’s get down to business, shall we?  I’ve numbered the items in the sequence I would use them whilst giving myself a manicure.

1.  Woolworths Dual Textured Cotton Rounds – to remove your existing nail polish.  Retails for R 19,99 at Woolworths but loads of other brands i.e. Dove also make these.

2.  Foil – to remove your glitter nail polishes.  Not sure what I’m on about?  Check out this blog post.  Retails for R 14,99 at most grocery stores.

3.  Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover Jar – this is a time- and energy saving method to remove your nail polish (plus there’s no need for cotton rounds).  The Bourjois one pictured above retails for R 79,95 at Clicks stores but you can also get a super affordable one at Dis-Chem, check out this post.

4.  Essence Nail Art Nail Polish Remover – I use this baby to remove my nail polish (when I’ve run out of my trusty Bourjois or Concord nail polish remover jars mentioned in number 3 above) & clean up around the cuticles after I have painted my nails.  This stuff is industrial strength and makes nail clean-up a breeze.  Retails for R 19,95 at selected Clicks & Dis-Chem stores.

5.  Manicure set – to cut, clip and clean those nails.  I generally only use the nail clippers, scissors and metal orange stick tool to clean up under the nail.  I have this exact set and it was super cheap on eBay – R 80,00 (plus free shipping).

6.  Essence Studio Nails 4-in-1 Professional Nail File – this is my favourite nail file of all time.  I find other nail files start to split or peel after a while, this Essence nail file lasts for so long and you can use it to shorten, shape, buff & polish the nails for added shine.  Retails for R 22,95 at selected Clicks & Dis-Chem stores.

7.  Essence Precise Eyeliner Brush – I use this to clean up around my cuticle area once I have painted my nails.  There is nothing worse, to me, than seeing a flooded cuticle area – if you are unsure of what a ‘flooded cuticle’ is, this is when you have applied too much nail polish to the nail and it pools around the cuticle area (it kind of looks thicker there).  If you take the time to just do a quick cleanup after you have applied you nail polish (wait for it to dry a bit first), your mani will look like a professional did it – promise!  That’s how I get my nail polish to look so perfect around the edges.  You can take a look at my Instagram photos here (and while you’re at it, you can follow me too).  All you need to do is dunk the eyeliner brush in your nail polish remover, shake off the excess polish remover and run the edge of the brush around your cuticle area.  Then clean the brush by patting / rubbing it onto a cotton round – easy peasy!  Retails for R 22,95 from selected Clicks & Dis-Chem stores.

8.  Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Base Coat – best base coat EVER!  It strengthens the nail whilst creating a protective barrier between your nail and the polish (this means no stained nails, ladies).  If you have soft, fragile & chipping nails, this base coat is for you!  Retails for R 99,99 at Clicks and Dis-Chem stores.

9.  Essie Nail Polishes – my number 1 favourite nail polish brand because they have such an incredible selection of colours.  Retails from R 110,00 upwards at selected Clicks, Dis-Chem & salon supply stores OR online from Takealot, Zando & Rubybox.  I buy my Essie polishes on eBay because they work out to about between R 80,00 and R 100,00 per bottle (including shipping) plus you have access to all the new collections too.

10.  Nails Inc Nail Polishes – I love the names of their polishes, they all sound so posh!  Plus I have found the polishes to last for a good 3 to 4 days on the nails without chipping.  Retails for R 109,00 at selected Edgars & Red Square stores.

11.  OPI Nail Polishes – another firm favourite of mine, I have to commend OPI on always releasing the most interesting collections and coming up with truly incredible textured polishes.  Retails for between R 130,00 and R 160,00 at selected salon supply stores, Clicks & Stuttafords stores and from Twincare South Africa.  I personally buy my OPI polishes on eBay because they work out to about R 100,00 per bottle (including shipping) plus you have access to all the new collections too.

12.  Mavala Minute Quick Finish Top Coat – super fast drying top coat, this one dries within minutes and prevents your freshly painted manicure from smudging.  Retails for R 59,95 at selected Clicks & Dis-Chem stores.

13.  Essie Good To Go! Top Coat – I alternate between the Mavala top coat and this one, both work equally well by drying your mani in a couple of minutes.  Rather opt for quick drying top coats, ladies, because the only time we’re completely helpless is when our manis are wet.  Retails from R 169,00 upwards at selected Clicks, Dis-Chem & salon supply stores OR online from Takealot & Zando.  But remember, the Mavala top coat is only 5ml, this one is 15ml.

14.  LUSH Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter – I’ve mentioned this cuticle butter here and here.  I still use this cuticle cream very religiously as I find really does a great job of nourishing and moisturising the cuticle area.  I tend to suffer from dry cuticle areas, this means even the area above the cuticle is dry and dehydrated.  Rub this super rich butter all over your cuticle area, let it soak into the skin and after a couple of uses you will definitely see a difference – the result?  Soft, supple & moisturised cuticles.  Retails for R 105,00 from LUSH stores or the LUSH SA online store (currently out of stock online though – booo!).

15.  OPI Avoplex Nail & Cuticle Replenishing Oil – another firm favourite in my manicure routine.  I alternate between Lemony Flutter and this cuticle oil as I find both give me the same result – smooth, healthy cuticles.  Avoplex is enriched with Vitamin E, avocado, sunflower, sesame and kukui nut oils to lock in essential moisture.  Retails for over R 300,00 at selected salon supply & Stuttafords stores and from Twincare South Africa.  This is one of those items you HAVE TO buy on eBay, I paid just over R 100,00 (including shipping) for my bottle.

16.  Soap & Glory Hand Food Hand Cream – I apply this luxurious hand cream after every mani AND every night before I go to bed.  The scent of this hand cream is truly something special – if you know what Miss Dior Cherie smells like, then you will recognise the top notes immediately.  There’s a reason everyone and their auntie have raved about this hand cream – the relatively light consistency packs a punch when it comes to nourishing & moisturising the skin without leaving your hands feeling greasy / sticky.  I even have a sizeable back-up stash of this too, just in case…  Retails for R 169,95 from Rubybox.

Would you guys like to see a ‘Manicure Routine’ blog posts with photos?  Kind of like a step-by-step tutorial?  I’d be happy to try do something like that for you, so let me know in the comments section below.



  1. Melissa ❀ 19 March 2014 / 12:55

    You’ve basically just made me add like 16 items to my shopping list now – heheheh

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:28

      Bwahahahaha!!! They’re all worth it! 😉

  2. Ronel Marais 19 March 2014 / 12:58

    Yes yes, please do a blog post on your manicure routine. I love “routine” blog posts; and after that you can do hair care routine, skin care routine and so forth. 😉

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:29

      Ok cool, will do that for you (the hair care & skincare routine posts too!). 😀

  3. Elmarie Pienaar 19 March 2014 / 13:26

    Pls do a post like that, I would really appreciate it. This blog post has already helped me alot. Thank you. x

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:27

      Great stuff, Elmarie! Will most definitely do a post like that for you – thank you for leaving a comment. x

  4. Prettiful Blog 19 March 2014 / 13:28

    I love the soap and glory hand cream! And the bourjois remover is my staple! I also like the essence nail polish corrector pen, it allows you to clean around your nails for a perfect looking mani!

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:26

      I’ve seen that pen, Azraa, and I always wonder whether I should get it… Next time I’ll definitely pick it up, thank you for the recommendation! :)

  5. Anye 19 March 2014 / 17:33

    Love this post. Please do a step-by-step Essence has the best nail files! I like the ones that come in the plastic case – perfect for your hand bag.

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:23

      Will definitely do a step-by-step for you guys, Anye. :) This one came in a plastic sleeve, but I have seen the one in the case too – will pick it up next time I’m at the shops. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

  6. Ali 19 March 2014 / 17:54

    Great post Luzanne! I’m going to give number 7 a try.

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:20

      Great! You won’t be disappointed in the Essence eyeliner brush, much easier to work with than other clean-up brush sets you get on eBay. :)

  7. Sibahle 19 March 2014 / 18:05

    All these items are important.

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 07:21

      You are 100% correct, Sibahle! Thank you for popping by and commenting. 😉

  8. Sasha Martin 20 March 2014 / 18:42

    Hi Luzanne

    Love this post. We would love to read about the step by step manicure with pictures. Have a fabulous weekend.

    Lotsa Love

    • Luzanne 20 March 2014 / 21:19

      Awesome, I will most definitely be doing a manicure routine blog post for you guys. :) Enjoy the meetup on Saturday, I hope you guys have lots of fun! x

  9. Lily 20 March 2014 / 23:25

    This is WONDERFUL! Thank you SO much for sharing! I always have some serious nail envy, you have the most perfect nails and always have such a perfect mani to go along!
    I love Essie’s Good To Go top coat…it dries so quickly!

    I need to buy that base coat…I hate when my nails stain and I have pretty weak nails. Will definitely keep an eye out for that base coat!

    Thanks again, Luzanne!

    • Luzanne 24 March 2014 / 12:36

      Thanks, Lily! :) Your comments always bring a smile to my face.

      And thank you very much for your kind words about my nails. *blush* x

    • Luzanne 24 March 2014 / 12:37

      Great stuff, Abby! So glad you found this blog post to be helpful, let me know how the eyeliner brush works out for you. :)

  10. Martie Lightley 9 April 2014 / 19:36

    This is one of the BEST blog posts in the HISTORY of blog posts!!!! I love it… Thank you so much for sharing all these lovely tips with us. Yes please, do share your manicure how to step for step with us, as you always boast with the most amazing nails EVER. How about maybe doing a nail art “manual” for us to buy complete with pictures, tips and how to’s? I would definitely buy it!!!!! :-) Oh yes, and could you maybe share some tips with us on how to shop for the Essie nail polishes on Ebay for all us Ebay newbies? 😉

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