How to Save Money on Manicures and Pedicures

Woman doing nails
Jamie Grill / The Image Bank / Getty Images

If you were to add up how much money you spend a year on manicures and pedicures you might be appalled. For me, the cost is totally worth it. I live in New York City and my twice monthly pedicures are so cheap, it makes better sense (and cents) to pay someone to do the job rather than spending the time doing a poor job myself. That said, I still find ways to save on my manis and pedis.

Here are some of my best secrets to saving money on manicures and pedicures.

Learn to Do It Yourself

This one is obvious. If you want to save money on nail care, simply start doing your nails yourself. Depending on where you live, you could save yourself $100 or more a month by doing your own fingers and tootsies. I live in NYC, where cheap nail salons reign supreme, so I like to think my time is better spent NOT doing my own nails and paying someone else to do them.

Here's all you need to know on DIY-manis and DIY-pedis:

  • How to Give Yourself a Manicure
  • How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

Thin is Better Than Thick

When applying nail polish, thinner layers are better. Thick layers take longer to dry and are more apt to chip. Two layers are all you need. 

Get more tips in 30 of My Best Manicure/Pedicure Tips in One Spot and don't miss How to Keep Nail Polish From Chipping.

Skip the Fancy Salons, Try a Cheaper One

The discrepancy in prices among mani and pedi places amazes me. You pay twice as much at a fancy schmancy spa for a toe workup than you would at any number of Korean salons in NYC.

So why pay for the posh massage chairs and floating flower petals in your tub at the fancy places when you could be saving money at a cheaper place? There's no shame in strip mall salons.

Buffing: The Beauty Editor's Secret

My freshly painted manicures don't last long because I am a fidgety person by nature.

And then because I'm also a busy person who can live with nasty chipped nail polish, I tend to go far too long between manicures. This is not cool when one is a beauty writer by trade.

Hence, my addiction and supreme love for buffing. Buffing is the beauty editor's secret. You get shiny, gorgeous nails without the hassle of nail polish (and let's face it, unless you opt for a "5-Free Polish," nail polish is full of nasty stuff that you may not want flowing into your blood system). 

It can cost about $5 or more than getting polish, but buffing lasts a super long time and is a popular choice among my natural, organic-loving friends.

Read more about buffing in Should You Buff Your Nails?

Buy the Polish and Re-apply Weekly

I like to buy my own polish because I prefer polish that's free of chemicals (most polish contains formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin and camphor). If you buy your polish and keep it with you after a salon visit, you can reapply a coat after a week and save yourself a few days.

See this list of "5 Free" Nail Polish: 14 Brands Worth Your Money for the very best chemical-free(-ish) nail polish. 

The Shorter, the Better

Short, rounded nails are less apt to chip than long nails or those cut into a square.

"When a flat tip hits a hard surface, the polish is more likely to chip and crack," says NYC salon owner Jin Soon Choi in Allure Magazine.

It's All in the Topcoat

I like to pay $1 extra at the salon for a long-lasting top coat. If you want your manicure to last longer, apply a coat of topcoat once every 3 days. Seche Vite is an excellent topcoat. 

Also, check out:

  • How to Keep Nail Polish From Chipping
  • 8 Secrets to Making Your Manicure Last Longer

Skip the Full Mani, Ask for a Color Change Instead

Why pay for a full manicure every time your polish needs to be changed? Ask for a color change in between full manicures and pedicures. These can cost as little as $5. A big savings that adds up over time.

Protect Your Investment

When it comes to cleaning, opening up soda cans or removing price stickers from wine bottles, think twice before using your nails.

Wear gloves when cleaning and use the pads of your fingers to open up cans.

Loved this? There's more! Check out:

  • How to Save on Skincare
  • How to Save on Haircuts and Hair Color