How to Do a Male Manicure

Updated on November 10, 2019
Jayne Lancer profile image

A beauty consultant and former hairdresser by profession, Jayne has been helping men and women improve their appearance for almost 20 years.

These three easy steps will keep your hands in shape!
These three easy steps will keep your hands in shape! | Source

Get your hands into shape and keep them that way with this easy, three-step male manicure. If you’re really daring, you could go a step further and add a touch of nail polish.

As a man, you don't want hands as soft as a lady's glove. You need a few calluses for protection, especially if you do a demanding manual job. In fact, some would say that strong, hard-working, callused male hands are extremely attractive, but that’s no reason not to take care of them.

Dry, chapped hands are not attractive. Nor are dirty, jagged nails and unchecked cuticles. If this describes your hands, it’s time for a manicure.

Once you’ve got your hands in tip-top condition, which is as easy as one-two-three, it takes just a minute or two each day to keep them that way.

How to Do a Male Manicure

  1. Shorten and Smooth Your Nails
  2. Push Back Cuticles
  3. Apply Hand Cream

But, before we get started...

What You Need for a Male Manicure

  • Nail clippers (due to nail size, toenail clippers are usually more appropriate for men, as illustrated in the photo below)
  • Emery boards
  • A nail brush
  • Cuticle remover, available at all drugstores as either a cream, gel or liquid (alternatively petroleum jelly or coconut oil)
  • A rubber cuticle hoof
  • Tweezers
  • Hand cream


Step 1: Shorten and Smooth Your Nails

Shorten With Nail Clippers

If your nails are a little on the long side, you'll need to cut them. Use clippers rather than scissors. Because a man’s nails are usually larger than a woman’s, toenail clippers work best.

Shorten With a Nail File

If your nails aren’t too long, you can shorten them with the coarse side of an emery board. Always file from the outer nail to the center; a back and forth movement can weaken the nail, causing it to eventually split.

Smooth Nails

Whether you’ve used clippers or a file to reduce length, even out any rough edges with the fine side of an emery board.

About Nail Files

There's a metal nail file in every male manicure set, but it will cause untold damage.

If you want to keep your nails healthy, choose one made of glass, diamond, sapphire or ceramic. Otherwise, the disposable emery board is the most convenient and hygienic.

There's a metal nail file in every male manicure set, but it will cause untold damage.
There's a metal nail file in every male manicure set, but it will cause untold damage. | Source

Step 2: Push Back Cuticles

Basically, the cuticle is hard, dead skin that grows up the nail, making hands look scruffy and unkempt. If you want to appear well-groomed, it's important that you keep your cuticles pushed back.

How to Push Cuticles Back

  1. Begin by scrubbing your nails with a nail brush.
  2. Soak your fingers in warm, soapy water for about ten minutes.
  3. Dry your hands.
  4. Apply cuticle remover and allow it to work for five to ten minutes. In case you don't have cuticle remover, use petroleum jelly or coconut oil instead.
  5. Using a rubber cuticle hoof, gently push your cuticles back.
  6. Carefully pull away any remaining strands with tweezers.

Why You Should Never Cut Your Cuticles

If you cut your cuticles once, you might have to keep cutting them for the rest of your life. Apart from that, it makes them grow faster as well as leaving nails prone to infection.

Step 3: Apply Hand Cream

Finish by massaging hand cream into your hands and nails.

Hand Maintenance

If you push back your cuticles with a towel once a day after washing your hands, and apply hand cream every night before bed to keep cuticles soft and skin in good condition, there’ll be no need to do a complete manicure on a regular basis. All you’ll have to do is shorten your nails once a week with an emery board.

If you dare, go a step further...

Nail Polish for Men

You may want to go a step further and apply nail polish, but be careful—not all men can pull it off. If you’re unsure, think in terms of David Beckham and Johnny Depp.

Some stylists advocate a matte product for men, but if you choose a traditional masculine color like black or a vivid blue (as opposed to pink or red), it really doesn’t matter. There is, however, a brand called ManGlaze that produces countless matte finish colors with men in mind. Or you can use a special top coat that mattifies glossy nail polish.

You might want to go a step further and apply nail polish.
You might want to go a step further and apply nail polish. | Source

What You Need

The following products are available over the Internet and at drugstores:

  • Nail base coat
  • Nail polish
  • Nail top coat
  • Cotton swabs
  • Lint free cotton pads
  • Nail polish remover

How to Apply Nail Polish

Don’t use hand cream before applying nail polish, and make sure your nails are completely dry; moisture or fat will cause the polish to split.

  1. Apply a colorless, ridge-filling base coat. Brush on from the base of the nail to the tip. This levels off the nail surface for a smooth finish, helps the polish adhere to the nail, and prevents nail discoloration caused by colored polish.
  2. Wait about five or ten minutes for the base coat to dry, then apply the color. Paint a vertical line of polish on the center of the nail working from base to tip, then do the same again to fill out the sides. You should be able to cover the whole nail in three strokes. Load the brush only once for each nail.
  3. Wait five or ten minutes before applying a second coat.
  4. If you get nail polish on your skin, carefully wipe it away with a cotton swab soaked in nail polish remover.
  5. When the second coat is completely dry, apply a clear top coat to help protect the polish from knocks and chipping.

How to Remove Nail Polish

Apply nail polish remover to a lint free cotton pad and wipe the nails from base to tip until all color is removed. Then wash your hands and apply hand cream, massaging well into the nails.

Quick Poll for Male Readers

Do you wear nail polish?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Jayne Lancer


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    • Jayne Lancer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayne Lancer 

      5 years ago from West London, UK

      Mine wouldn't wear it, either, tlcs. Not even for a photo for this hub. Sigh. :)

    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 

      5 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      Interesting hub, I don't think I could get my hubby to put nail polish on though, in fact I know I couldn't!


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