DIY Nail Polish Buying Guide

Nail polish is an easy, affordable way to add colour and flair to your appearance. This DIY nail polish buying guide will help you create great looking nails in the comfort of your home.

DIY Nail Coverings 101

You don’t have to live at the nail salon or pay salon rates to have professional looking manicures and pedicures. From easy-to-apply nail polish to acrylic nail kits and creative nail art, the DIY nail technician has more options than ever before. Change up your colour every few days with a traditional nail polish or experiment with nail extensions for long-lasting artificial nails. Whether you favour a classic French manicure or crystal-adorned neon nails, today’s home polishes and nail kits let you have the look you want, when you want it, at prices you can afford.

Types of Nail Coverings


Nail Polish

Nail polish (including nail lacquer, nail enamel and nail paint) is an easy, affordable way to coordinate your look or make a bold style statement. The range of colours and finishes is almost limitless, and application is a breeze, even for novices. Simply paint directly on your nails and let dry. For a sleek look, start with a base coat to fill in grooves and strengthen nails. Then add a top coat to preserve colour and prevent chipping. A basic nail-polish manicure won’t last as long as artificial nails but has the benefit of easy removal. Just a quick wipe with a nail-polish remover, and it’s gone. Look for an acetone-free remover to avoid the strong odour and dehydrating properties of traditional acetone removers.

Gel Polish Manicures

Gel polish manicures wear considerably longer than regular nail polish, allowing for greater intervals between applications. These also dry instantly when cured under UV or LED light, avoiding any smudges and track marks. Gel systems consist of three distinct products: a base coat, a colour coat and a top coat. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and UV and LED light curing times in order to guarantee a flawless look. Removal requires soaking in an acetone-based nail polish remover for about 10 minutes.

Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are the most traditional, and still the most popular type of artificial nails. You can apply acrylic nail mixture over your full natural nail or use it to form a new nail tip. This type of artificial nail lasts about two weeks before new growth has to be filled in. To remove your acrylic nails, just soak them in an acetone-based nail polish remover for about 10 minutes, or use a remover specially formulated for acrylic nails.

Artificial Gel Nails

Artificial Gel nails are thinner and more flexible than acrylic nails, which gives them a more natural look. After prepping, simply paint an even layer of nail gel onto your own nails. Once the nail gel is applied, you hold your nails under a UV or LED light to cure the gel. UV lights are more affordable and work on all types of gel nail products, but curing takes a little longer. LED nail lamps cure the gel faster, but work only on gel nail products formulated for LED technology. Gel nails are best left to grow out naturally to avoid damage to your natural nail.

Press-On Nails

If you’re not ready to commit to more permanent artificial nails, press-on nails are a cost-effective, temporary solution. Available in a range of shapes, sizes, colours and designs, press-on nails are pre-formed artificial nails that adhere directly on top of your natural nails. You can also buy press-on nail kits that contain everything you need (nails, file and glue) for DIY application. For best results, be sure to trim, clean and file your natural nails before applying the press-ons.

Nail Art

If you’re looking to express yourself through your nails, consider doing nail art. From hand-drawn polka dots to adhesive rhinestones and crystals, there are many creative ways to rev up your natural or artificial nails. You can also experiment with easy-to-apply pre-printed decals and sand-based polishes that add artistic flair to your nails with a simple swipe.

Essential Nail Colours



Every nail polish rack should feature at least one classic red. From warm orange-tinted hues to cool blue-toned shades, this timeless nail colour suits both work and play.


An all-time favourite, pink can range from soft and light to strong and bright. This feminine hue is great for spring and summer months, or any time you want to soften your look.


Basic but never boring, neutral nail colours fit in just as well in a conservative office environment as at the beach. Whether you favour a simple nude polish or a classic French manicure, sweep it on and enjoy the clean, natural look.


The luxe look of metallic shades provides eye-catching shimmer and shine. Your choice of hues includes gold, silver, bronze and pewter. Whether you go with a glossy or matte finish, metallics are a fun way to glam up to your manicure.

Dark & Dramatic

For a rich, romantic effect, pick a dramatic shade like deep purple, glossy black or dark brown with a hint of red. These colours are the ideal complement to fall and winter fashions.

Bright & Fun

When you're feeling adventurous, try adding a pop of colour to your nails. From canary yellow to neon green to bright fuchsia, there are many bold nail colours to choose from that will brighten up your overall look. 

Nail Care Tips:

  • Regularly moisturize your nails and cuticles to reduce risk of cracking or chipping
  • Avoid excessive hand washing and use protective gloves when in contact with cleaning chemicals
  • File nails in one direction only with a smooth fine file to prevent damage
  • Use acetone-free nail polish removers on dry or brittle nails
  • Avoid shampoos that strip natural oils from your hair as they will also dry out your nails

Shop Accessories & Related Products:

Essential Nail Care Tools:

  • Cuticle nippers for easily cleaning up hangnails
  • Orange sticks (or toothpicks) for applying nail art and cleaning up mistakes
  • Four-way nail buffers to quickly file, buff and polish nails
  • A quality nail file to shape and maintain nails (glass files are easiest on nails)
  • Moisturizer, cuticle cream  or cuticle oil to prevent your nails from drying out
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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