8 Surprising Household Items for Perfect Nails

Updated: May 13, 2021

You can get healthy, gorgeous nails at home, no trip to the salon required.

Gentle Natural Manicure, Hand Care. Soaking Finger Nails in Bath with Herbal Oil and Floral on White Wooden Table with Copy Spacemarinafrost/ShutterstockBath oil

Heat 1/2 cup bath oil mixed with 1/2 cup water in your microwave for 30 seconds, recommends celebrity manicurist Erica Marton. Place the solution in a deep bowl and soak your fingers or toes in it for 10-15 minutes to soften cuticles or calluses. After drying, use a pumice stone to smooth over calluses or a file to push down cuticles. Follow up by rubbing in hand cream until fully absorbed.

Glass bowl with olive oil on dark backgroundAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Olive oil

“Any time you can add hydration to the cuticles, it’s a great thing,” says Marton. You can raid your pantry for an effective nail treatment. Marton says olive oil is a great option to treat brittle nails and ragged cuticles. You can massage it on your cuticles as a moisturizing treatment. Marton also suggests trying coconut oil or mineral oil for other natural moisturizing options. The benefits go beyond your finger tip—try these other surprising benefits of olive oil.

diabetes friendly dinner cooking sprayiStock/HuntImages

Cooking spray

Keep lint from smudging your freshly polished nails and spray a light coat of cooking spray on your nails. While you let it dry your nails will get a bonus moisturizing treatment.

Prescription pill bottle with last two blue pills spilling onto wooden kitchen table. Close up view.Jennifer Tepp/ShutterstockEmpty prescription bottles

Create a small, spill-proof carry case for nail polish remover by tucking a small piece of sponge into empty prescription bottle. Saturate the sponge with polish remover and snap on the lid. For an emergency repair, or a quick method to remove polish, simply insert a finger and rub the nail against the fluid-soaked sponge and twist.

lemonsEvgeny Karandaev/ShutterstockLemons

Save yourself a trip to the nail salon and brighten yellowed nails with a squeeze of lemon. Marton suggests making a paste with a tablespoon of lemon juice and three tablespoons of baking soda. Spread it on your nails and let them soak for 15 minutes. Rinse and reveal brighter, whiter nails. If you have leftover lemon, be sure to check out the benefits of drinking lemon water.

Delicious sour cream or mayonnaise. Vegetarian mayonnaise without eggs from mustard, milk, vegetable oil and lemon juice.Julia Wave/ShutterstockMayonnaise

To condition your nails, just plunge them into a bowl of mayonnaise. The fats will moisturize skin and soften cuticles. Keep them bathed in the mayo for about 5 minutes and then wash with warm water. Learn other surprising uses for mayonnaise.

Hand with petroleum jelly on index finger on white backgroundBonNontawat/ShutterstockPetroleum jelly

The multi-tasking balm is also a potent cuticle softener. Petroleum jelly can help maintain healthy nails by keeping your skin hydrated and preventing cracking and peeling. Dab a thin layer along the base of your nails and along the edges. Marton warns, however, that you want to avoid doing this right before a manicure because the petroleum jelly will prevent the polish from adhering to the nail beds.

Pouring a quarter cup of apple cider vinegarMichelle Lee Photography/ShutterstockVinegar

Your nail polish will have a longer life expectancy if you first dampen your nails with some vinegar on a cotton ball and let it dry before applying your favorite polish. Marton says a quick swipe should dehydrate the bed so the polish can adhere better and last longer.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest