Natural Lifestyle

DIY All Natural Polish-Free Manicure

Learn how to give yourself a chic polish-free manicure

I have officially adopted the polish-free manicure.

For years I envied friends, family, and colleagues who were great at maintaining beautifully manicured nails (how on earth did they find the time/energy?!). Sure, there were short spurts where I tried committing to weekly manicures but I always grew irritated by the amount of time and money I was spending on something that barely lasted 6 days (if I was lucky!).

Then I read about recent studies showing that many mainstream nail polish brands contain dangerous chemicals that seep into our bodies via polish application. For instance, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) might cause negative impacts on our reproductive and developmental health (source: EWG) and formaldehyde has been classified as a probable human carcinogen (source: As someone who hopes to start trying for babies in the near-ish future and hopes to live a long, healthy, and cancer-free life, this information makes me nervous!

But even with all of that said, my true lightbulb moment happened when I met a coworker who was SUPER chic – great haircut, awesome style, always looked put together. She was the type of girl who you would expect to sport perfectly polished nails, but no! She never wore polish. She was able to pull it off and still appear professional because her bare nails were so naturally well kept (nicely shaped, buffed, and clean cuticles).

Her example + my laziness + my desire to remove as many hormone-disrupting chemicals from my life as possible inspired me to master the polish-free manicure, and you can too! Here are the tools you will need:

  1. Nail Clipper
  2. File
  3. Orange Stick
  4. Buffer
  5. Cuticle Trimmer
  6. Olive Oil
  7. Sugar
  8. Small Towel

5 Simple Steps to a Polish-Free Manicure

  1. Soak nails and cuticles in olive oil for 10 minutes then rub the oil into the rest of your handsThe most important step in a no polish manicure is moisturizing the cuticles
  2. Clip and File – I prefer a slightly rounded shape that follows the shape of my nail bedAn important step in a no polish manicure is clippingFor a chic polish-free manicure, file your nails to mimic the shape of your nail beds
  3. Scrub with a mix of 1 part sugar and 1 part olive oilUse half sugar half olive oil to create a moisturizing cuticle scrub for your chic polish-free manicure
  4. Wrap hands in a warm, damp towel to loosen cuticle skin then wipe off the excess scrubUse a warm, damp towel to clean hands and cuticles for a no polish manicure
  5. Use an orange stick to push cuticles back and use the towel to wipe any excess skin off the face of the nailAfter moisturizing, push cuticles back using an orange stick for a polish-free manicure
  6. If stubborn hangnails remain, use a cuticle trimmer to clip them away
  7. Buff the face of each nail then go out and show off your pretty handsAn important step in a polish-free manicure is buffing!

Bonus tips:

I store olive oil in a small glass dropper with the rest of my nail tools so I don’t have to go to my kitchen each time I want to moisturize my cuticles.

One intriguing tip that I haven’t tried yet from Self is to combine and refrigerate three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, one egg yolk and three teaspoons of olive oil. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to the surface and surrounding areas of your nails then let it sit for an hour before washing your hands and moisturizing. According to the Self article this mixture is magic for nails so I want to give it a try!

If you still want to have a bottle or two of polish on hand for special occasions, Wellness Mama put together a comprehensive nail polish guide for some safer options that might be worth trying.

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  • Reply
    August 4, 2019 at 6:52 am

    Stumbled upon this while looking at your other posts! I stopped using nail polish a few months ago and my nails are SO much stronger now. No splitting, no accidental breakage, it’s pretty incredible!

    I’d add: I use a glass file, which I read can be kinder to nails but is still zero waste 🙂 It also doubles as a buffer for me. And (especially on my toes), I’ll use a reusable makeup removal pad soaked in hydrogen peroxide to brighten the nails a little. Makes ’em look like they’re still *done* even sans polish.

    • Reply
      August 4, 2019 at 8:00 am

      Marian! Coming in with the good stuff – I have had the same metal nail file for YEARS but have always been curious about glass (they’re prettier too…). Also need to try your hydrogen peroxide tip! <3

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