How to Get a Cheap and Lasting Mani and Pedi

If you love a mani pedi, but not the price tag, this is how to make it an affordable luxury

Affordable luxury

“Would you like to add a pedicure to your services today?” I was six months pregnant with my sixth child in six years, and my husband had sent me to an afternoon at the spa for a facial and a massage. Reaching my toes would be impossible for the next three plus months, so of course I said yes! 

After my relaxing afternoon, every muscle in my back and neck tensed as they handed me the bill for my pedicure. $90 JUST FOR THE PEDICURE, not including tip! I nearly went into labor right then and there.

Cheap and lasting mani burgundy nails

My manicure habit started in high school, back when I didn’t know about cheap places to get nails done. One feature I’ve always loved is my fingernails. I have strong, beautifully shaped nails, and before I had kids I loved to wear them long and painted. 

Every Sunday night until I had kids, I pulled out my manicure set and did my nails, and they were painstakingly perfect. The quick-dry polishes weren’t quick enough, and I learned how to sleep without my nails touching the sheets so I didn’t wake up with sheet prints.

Even though I did a special four-step process, I still had to repeat the process weekly. This ritual continued until I had kids. After that, I didn’t have time or energy to do this every Sunday night. The little free time I had was reserved for spending time with my husband, a little mindless entertainment, and sleep.

The best thing since sliced bread

A few years ago I discovered gel polish and started going every few months to get my toes done because gel polish is so durable that it only comes off as you grow out your nails or remove it. It doesn’t scratch, dull or chip. Miraculous! 

Even though I had given up my weekly manicure routine, I had kept up with my pedicures because they last longer. Salon pedicures are pricey, so I only got them done every few months, once they were so grown out that I couldn’t disguise it anymore. A few times a year I splurged and got my fingernails done too, and it always made me so happy.

Three years ago for Christmas my friend invested in a gel manicure set (for her daughter, of course) and wanted to practice on more than herself and her girls, and asked if she could start doing my nails to get more experience. Are you kidding me? Where do I sign up? She started doing my nails every other week, and I got addicted again.

Cheap and lasting mani red nails

How to get an inexpensive and lasting manicure and pedicure

My friend loved doing nails so much that she decided to go to nail tech school and get a license to do this, so I started to go see her every other week at the cosmetology school to get my nails done.

Ladies, this is the best way to get an inexpensive and lasting manicure and pedicure. The services at the local cosmetology school here are $6. SIX. DOLLARS. for a mani or pedi. That’s less than a fast food meal! They are students, and they have teachers there to supervise and inspect, but really, what can go wrong? It’s just polish. If they mess up, they can remove it.

This is a fantastic way to pamper yourself and get a little self-care in. Gel polish is pretty indestructible and will last until you take it off. Even if you go twice a month that’s only $12 (plus tip)!! That even includes nail art. At a salon, you could spend $12 on nail art alone. 

The students are always looking for hand models (aka a live person to work on) because they have to practice and pass off their skills to graduate. If you have acrylic nails, they do those, too.

Cheap and lasting mani black and leopard print nails

Just a little patience

The only con is that it takes longer. Remember they are students and learning, so it won’t be as fast as the regular nail salon. Make the extra time into a pro by scheduling appointments for you and a friend at the same time and catch up during some serious self love time. Or take your tablet and read. Or listen to a book or your favorite podcast. 

For me it’s a chance to spend time with my really good friend. We are both so busy we have to resort to scheduling time together.

Cheap and lasting mani hot pink nails

The second way to get an inexpensive lasting manicure and pedicure is to buy the materials and do it yourself. My friend bought this lamp (which she still loves and takes to school with her) and some of the cheap gel polishes and started practicing. It is an investment up front, but will pay off quickly if you use it.

It’s not the same as applying regular polish. There are extra steps and supplies needed, as well as some techniques to learn, but she was ready to put in the work because she loved it so much. If you are willing to do that, it can be a fun hobby to get into and share with friends.

If you want inspiration for bold manicure options, check out my mani pedi Pinterest board. You can get regular manicures and pedicure, and the price tag won’t send you into labor.

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12 thoughts on “How to Get a Cheap and Lasting Mani and Pedi”

    1. Autumn Lindstrom

      You can remove it yourself at home if you have 100% acetone. You can find that at TJ Maxx, Target, Sally beauty supply and many others. How you will do this is: you will take a piece of foil just like you use in the kitchen, the sheets can rip into squares very easy. Then you douse a cotton ball ( the smaller cheaper cotton balls are better for this) with your acetone, you put the cotton ball on the fingernail and you wrap it in foil. It is best if you could put plastic gloves on is even better just to keep it warm. It works best to do one hand at a time, makes it easiest. Leave on a good 5 to 10 minutes, take the plastic bag off your hand. I would start at your pinky and work towards your thumb, unwrap the foil take the cotton pad off and scrape the nail starting at the cuticle and scrape to the free edge, you’ll keep scraping it off until you can feel there is not a film any longer. Finish by taking a fresh cotton ball with acetone and wipe any residue off and repeat. Just a side note: if you plan to go to the salon to have your gel nails removed and do not plan on getting them redone you’ll pay money to have this service done.

    1. Wow! The one I go to is a local beauty school housed within a tech school that teaches hair and some other non beauty vocations. If your town is big enough for an Aveda school, maybe there is a non-branded one around.

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