A 10 Minute DIY Mani For Race Day

Image credit Getty.

Save yourself dollars at the salon on Saturday morning and do your own nails instead (sigh).

We all know it, a day out to the races can add up, and curbing the damage to the bank account wherever possible on non-essentials is just plain common sense. As nice it is to recline in those red leather massage chairs, completely chill for half an hour, read trash magazines, enjoy the sensation of having a professional take care of your nails, walking out with them looking absolutely flawless and glossy at the end – OK I’ll stop. There’s just nothing like going to the salon. But if you don’t have excess budget floating around (and let’s face it, who does?) you have to triage, and ultimately a professional mani is a luxury that can be gone without. Besides, when you can do your own nails to a standard that’s just as good* as the salon, why spend the money? (*By just as good I mean a passable standard). Let’s do this!


What you’ll need

(Try to work with what you already have, if you need polish see the suggestions at the bottom of the article).

  • A nail polish in a shade that matches or compliments your outfit (if you need ideas for that by the way we’re here for you)
  • A bowl (or sink) filled with warm water (so you can at least pretend you’re at the salon)
  • Tweezers with a square/straight edge
  • Nail clippers
  • File
  • If you want to go the extra mile: Base coat and top coat. This one handily does both jobs
  • Have some cotton tips and nail polish remover too, just in case



1. Get completely ready. This means outfit on, makeup done, hair done, fascinator on. Definitely clutch or bag packed. Be strategic and leave your phone and anything else you’re likely to need soon afterwards out of it. Set out to give yourself the best chance of not ruining this whole enterprise you can possibly give.

2. soak the fingers of one hand briefly in the warm water –  a minute or two should do the trick. Dry off with a towel.

3. Use the square top of the tweezers to gently push the cuticles down on the nails of the soaked hand.

4. You can also use the tweezers to scrape out any dirt under the nails – this may sound a bit gross, but simply wash the tweezers in boiling water afterwards to sterilise them.

5. Clip your nails to the desired length, cutting as straight as possible across the top of the nail with only a little angle cut in each corner. Finish off by filing to give an even finish. If you don’t want to clip your nails, just tidy them up with the file instead.

6. Dip your hand back in the water to wash away any filings and dry your hand.

7. Repeat the above steps with your other hand.

8. Now you’re ready to paint! If you have base coat and a few extra minutes, paint your nails with base coat first – this will buy you an extra day or two of the mani looking fresh. If you don’t have it, just start painting your colour on. Some tips for this are:

  • You only need a small drop of polish on your brush for each nail.
  • Start near the bottom of the nail and push the brush down towards the cuticle, then sweep back up to paint the whole nail. You should only need two more brush strokes either side to cover the remaining ground.
  • If you accidentally end up with polish over the edge of your nail, fix it immediately with a cotton tip dipped in nail polish remover.

9. Paint your nails with a second (thin) coat of polish.

10. Finish with a quick coat of top coat, if you have it. Voila! Who needs a salon? Just make sure you don’t ruin your nails in the next twenty minutes. No reaching into that pre-packed bag!


Shop the article:

Check out our tips on making sure your race day look remains on point all day.

Signup to our newsletter
Get TheRaces Newsletter
for all the latest in fashion, lifestyle & racing in Australia.
The Latest on all the Race Action & Trends