Manicuring, once considered as a luxury for the few, is now within reach of the general public. In fact, every well-groomed person resorts to regular manicures. Manicuring is not limited to the hands of women only. More and more men request the services of a manicurist when they visit the barber shop for their shaves and haircuts. The word manicuring is derived from the Latin "manus" (hand) and "cura" (care), meaning the care of the hands and nails. The purpose of a manicure is to improve the appearance of the hands and nails. If the patron pleased by a professional manicure, she is more likely to become a regular customer for manicuring as well as other beauty treatments.

A manicurist should have the following qualifications:

1. Knowledge of the structure of the hands, arms and nails.

2. Knowledge of composition of various cosmetics used in manicuring.

3. Ability to give a good manicure in a systematic and efficient manner.

4. Ability to care for the patron's manicuring problems.

5. Ability to recognize nail disorders which may be treated, and diseases that should be referred to a physician.

6. Ability to please and satisfy patrons.

The articles used in manicuring, that are more or less durable or permanent, are referred to as equipment and implements or tools. Materials refer to cosmetics and other supplies that are consumed and therefore, must be replaced from time to time.


The equipment needed in giving a manicure includes:

1. Manicure table and adjustable lamp.

2. Patron's chair and manicurist's chair or stool.

3. Cushion (8 by 12 inches) covered with washable slipcover or sanitized towel on which patron rests arm. A Turkish towel, folded and covered with a small sanitized towel, may be used instead of the cushion.

4. Supply stray for holding cosmetics.

5. Finger bowl (plastic, china or glass, with removable paper cup) for holding warm soapy water.

6. Container for sanitizing solution.

7. Electric heater for heating oil when giving a hot oil manicure.

8. Container for sanitizing solution.

9. Glass containers for cosmetics and accessories.


Implements include:

1. Orangewood sticks (2) – to loosen cuticle, work around nail and for applying oil, cream, bleach or solvent to the nail and cuticle.

2. Nail file (7 or 8 inches long, thin and flexible) to shape and smooth the free-edge of the nail.

3. Cuticle pusher – to push back and loosen cuticle.

4. Cuticle nippers or cuticle scissors – to trim the cuticle.

5. Nail brush – to cleanse the nails and fingertips with the aid of warm soapy water.

6. Emery boards (2) – to shape the free-edge of the nail with the coarse side and to bevel the nail with the finer side.

7. Nail buffer (with removable frame to permit replacement of the chamois cover) – to buff and polish the nails. (Some states do not permit the use of a nail buffer).

8. Fine camel's hair brush – to apply lacquer or liquid nail polish. (Camel's hair brush is usually attached to top of nail polish bottle).

9. Tweezers – to gently lift small bits of cuticle.

Proper Way to Hold Manicure Implements

Steel file – hold the file firmly in the right hand, with the thumb underneath it for support and the other four fingers on its upper surface.

Emery board – it is held in the same manner as the steel file.

Orangewood stick – it is held in the same manner as in writing with a pencil.

Steel pusher – it is held in the same manner as in writing with a pencil. The dull spade side is used to push back and loosen the cuticle.

Nippers – pick up the nippers by the handles and turn the cutting edges towards you; place the bent tip of the shank. Place the thumb on the side of the handle and the remaining fingers over the opposite side handle.


Nail and hand cosmetics vary in their composition and usage according to the purpose they serve.

Nail cleansers consist of some form of soap, flaked, beaded or caked.

Nail polish removers contain organic solvents and are used to dissolve the old polish present on the nails. To offset the drying action of the solvent, oil may be present in the nail polish remover.

Cuticle oil softens and lubricates the skin around the nails.

Cuticle creams are mixtures of fats and waxes (lanolin, cocoa butter, bees-wax, etc.) which are intended to prevent or correct brittle nails and dry cuticle.

Cuticle removers or solvents may contain 2-5% of sodium or potassium hydroxide plus glycerine. After the cuticle is softened with this liquid, it can be easily removed.

Nail bleaches contain hydrogen peroxide or diluted organic acids in a liquid form or mixed with other ingredients to form a white paste. When applied over nails, under the free-edge and on fingertips, stains are removed.

Abrasive is available as a pumice powder, and is used to smooth irregular nail ridges.

Nail whiteners are applied as a paste, cream or coated string. They consist mainly of white pigments (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). When applied under the free-edge of the nail, they keep the tips looking white.

Dry nail polish is usually prepared in the form of powder or paste. The main ingredient is a mild abrasive, such as tin oxide talc, silica or kaolin. It smoothes the nail and also imparts a sheen to the nail during buffing.

Liquid nail polish or lacquer is used to color or gloss the nail. It is a solution of nitro cellulose in such volatile solvents as amyl acetate, together with a plasticizer (castor oil), which prevents too rapid drying. Also present is a resin and color.

Nail polish solvent containing acetone or other solvent is used to thin out the nail polish when it has thickened.

A base coat is a liquid product applied before the liquid nail polish. With this application, the nail polish adheres readily to the nail surface. It also forms a hard gloss which prevents the color in the nail polish from staining the nail tissue.

A top coat or sealer is a liquid applied over the nail polish. This product protects the polish and minimizes chipping or cracking of the colored polish. Some manufacturers combine a base coat and a top coat or sealer in a one-bottle product.

Nail strengtheners are products designed to prevent the nails from splitting or peeling. These are applied to the tips of the nails only. They are never applied over polish. The nails must be thoroughly clean, free of oils or creams, and dry. The application is used before the base coat is applied. The product usually contains formaldehyde. Cuticle shields are used during the application to prevent the product from touching the skin or cuticle.

A nail drier is a fine spray which protects the nail polish against stickiness and dulling and can be used either as a spray over the top coat or directly on the nail polish.

Hand creams and lotions keep the skin soft by replacing the natural oils lost from the skin. They are recommended for overcoming a dry, chapped or irritated condition of the skin.

Hand creams are similar in composition to vanishing creams. Other ingredients which may be present are glycerine, cocoa butter, lecithin, or gums.

Hand lotions are dilute emulsions of stearic acid and water to which may be added mucilage of quince seed, gum lanolin or glycerine.


Materials include the following:

1. Absorbent cotton – to apply cosmetics to the nails.

2. Soap (liquid or any form) for finger bath.

3. Warm water – for finger bath.

4. Sanitized towels – use individual towel for each patron.

5. Cleansing tissue – to use whenever necessary.

6. Chamois – to replace soiled chamois on buffer.

7. Paper cups – to replace used paper cups in finger bowl.

8. Antiseptic – to add a few drops to bath; to apply on minor injuries to tissues surrounding the nails.

9. Disinfectant – to sanitize implements, to sponge the manicure table.

10. Spatula – to remove creams from jars.

11. Mending tissue paper and mending liquid – to repair or cover broken, split or torn nails.

12. Perforated adhesive tape – to hold compresses on injured nails or tissues or to cover broken nails.

13. Scotch tape – to repair or cover broken, split or torn nails.

Procedure for a Plain Manicure


Prepare manicure table. Sponge top with disinfectant, cover cushion with sanitized towel and place a bowl of warm soapy water to left side of patron.

2. Select and arrange required sanitized implements, cosmetics and materials.

3. Seat patron.

4. Wash your hands.

5. Examine patron's hands.


1. Remove old polish. Moisten a piece of cotton with the nail polish remover and press over the nail for a few moments to soften the polish. With a firm movement, bring the cotton from the base of the nail to the tip. Do not smear the old polish into the cuticle or surrounding tissues. (Alternate method of removing nail polish is to moisten small pieces of cotton with nail polish remover and press over old polish on each nail. Then moisten other pledgets of cotton with nail polish remover and use of removing the small pledgets on the nails. This acts like a blotter and does not leave a polish smear on cuticle.)

2. Shape nails. Discuss with patron the nail shape best suited for her. File the nails of the left hand, from the little finger towards the thumb, in the following manner:

a.) hold the patron's finger between the thumb and the first two fingers of the left hand.

b.) hold the file in the right hand and tilt it slightly so that filing is confined mainly to the underside of the free-edge.

c.) Shape nails into graceful oval tips, never extreme points. Use the file or emery board to shape the nail. File each nail from corner to center, going from right to left and then from left to right. On each side of the nail, use two short, quick strokes and one long sweeping stroke.

(Caution: never file deep into the corners of the nail. If the nails are permitted to grow out at the sides, they will look longer and wear better.

3. Soften cuticle. After completing the left hand, file two nails of the right hand. Then, immerse left hand into finger bowl (soap bath) to permit softening of the cuticle. Finish filing nails of right hand. Remove left hand from finger bowl.

4. Dry fingertips. Holding a towel with both hands, carefully dry the left hand including the area between the fingers. At the same time, gently loosen and push back the cuticle and adhering skin on each nail.

5. Apply cuticle remover. Wind a thin layer of cotton around the blunt edge of an orangewood stick for use as an applicator. Apply cuticle solvent around cuticle of left hand.

6. Loosen cuticle. Use the spoon end of the cuticle pusher to gently loosen the cuticle. Keep cuticle moist while working. Use the cuticle pusher in a flat position to remove dead cuticle adhering to the nail without scratching the nail-plate. Push cuticle back with towel over index finger. (In using both the cuticle pusher and orangewood stick, avoid too much pressure so that live tissue at the root of the nail will not be injured.