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¥100 Beauty: Mani-fique

By 3 min read 3

By far, the physical feature I’m most insecure about are my hands. They’re bony and veiny. My fingers are shaped like skinny cigars. For years, this affliction has kept me having almost weekly manicures. I don’t know where you’re from but in San Francisco that means $10 per manicure.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a basic manicure — no gel, no gold-encrusted-crab-claw action — cost a minimum of ¥3800 ($38.00) here in Tokyo. I tried it, because I wanted to see if there was some magical difference in technique or product, (not to mention my Crypt Keeper hands were beyond haggard after a month) but no. No special sauce. No magic formula. It was just a good manicure.

Since I’m on a much smaller budget in Japan, weekly manicures at the day spa are not exactly happening anytime soon. Until I find a new beauty pit crew that fits with my budget I’m doing a lot more home maintenance. So my lovelies, I give you my new routine for the least expensive home manicure ever. Enjoy.


Step 0: Lemon Brown Sugar Scrub.

It’s step zero because you do this the night before you do the actual mani. Trust me it’s worth it. Unless you have awesome-looking hands. In which case you can skip this step, and I hate you and your beautiful hands. 😉

Step 1: Ingredients

There are a million recipes for this online, but I found one that contains ingredients you can buy at your nearest ¥105 shop.

  • Sugar: You can use white, I like the golden brown because it has some moisture to it already which is good for binding the mixture.
  • Lemon Juice: Most recipes use the bottle, which I used, but fresh is always lovely.
  • Olive Oil: I buy good olive oil for cooking, and keep a ¥105 bottle for beauty stuff and about a million other things… the stuff is handy.
  • Container: I use a glass container. Daiso has mason jars if you’re still into mason jars. I’m not still into mason jars so I just bought a container with an airtight lid that is WAY easier than dealing with a mason jar.


Step 2: Lemon Brown Sugar Scrub.

Take two and a half parts sugar, one part oil, and enough lemon to scent the mixture.

  • 11oz sugar
  • 12oz olive oil
  • 3oz lemon juice

I use this mixture in the shower before I go to bed, and not just on my hands… it’s a great exfoliator and is super refreshing. The lemon helps even out on hyperpigmentation and it a natural antiseptic, so your hands are super primed for moisture.

Speaking of moisture: I bought night gloves at the ¥105 shop because I clearly have issues. I slather on cream and wear them to bed before I do my nails. No, not every night because I’m not Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest.


Step 3: The Procedure

  • Cut/shape: Tools you can buy at the ¥105 shop.
  • Cuticles: You can push them back with an orange stick or trim. I brought my tools from home for this part.
  • Buff: Daiso has awesome buffers. I use mineral oil but you can just buff bare if you like. Just don’t go bananas and thin out your nail beds… they’ll break like crazy later.
  • Polish: This is my nightmare. I have the patience of a gnat waiting for my nails to dry. But after chatting with a makeup artist friend, I learned that light polish dries faster than dark. And light, shimmery/pearly polish dries faster than any polish other than clear. Plus when it chips it hardly shows. I picked a pale pink so you can see it, but I usually wear nudes with a little fairy dust.

Total Cost:

  • Sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, container = ¥420
  • Polishes, remover, buffer, file = ¥420
  • Therapy gloves = ¥105

¥945 for enough stuf to get me through the summer. When did I become such a freaking miser?

¥105 nail polish? Seriously? Yep- last mani I did lasted a week without a single chip. One coat of each plus a top and base coat. Check it out. Just don’t look at my hands.

Tah dah! Finished!

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  • Cynthia Popper says:

    Thanks doll! Used it tonight… love love it. 🙂

  • Elizabeth says:

    Good tips and very funny 🙂

    …. um, the description not the manicure. That was just great & not a laughing matter.

    • Cynthia Popper says:

      Ha! Thanks lady! And yeah… both my hands and I need therapy. But this scrub is the bomb- I’m going to experiment with some other ingredients so I’ll keep you posted. 🙂



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