Get a Perfect At-Home Manicure in 7 Easy Steps 1. File Your Nails. Make sure they are completely dry. 2. Apply a rich hand cream. Then, soak your nails in warm, soapy water for five minutes. 3. Push back your cuticles with a wet nail stone. If you have a hangnail, trim it. 4. Apply a Basecoat, It helps the color go on smoothly and last longer. 5. Brush on two thin coats of color, waiting a couple of minutes after each hand. 6. Apply a Top Coat. 7. Clean Up Any Smudges